The owner of this tunic dress (Kandurah) was the late ‘Inayah bint Salih al Muhairi, the wife of the late Al Said Abdullah al Hashmi, the director of private affairs for the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan.
The Kandurah was made for her by a renowned tailor called Khalifah at the time, one of the first tailors to open in Dubai.
‘Inayah’s was known for reciting poetry but was also skilled in (Talli) and (Badlah) making.
Growing up in the 1950s she became part of the entourage of the family of Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan al Nahyan’s daughter, Shaikhah Mozah. She then became a close confidant and part of the entourage of Shaikhah Fatimah bint Mubarak, wife of the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan.
On ‘Inayah’s death in 2013, the Kandurah was inherited by her niece and daughter-in-law, the Emirati poet Fatimah al Hashmi. She donated the garment to the Zay Collection in memory of ‘Inayah.
Fatimah attained a high school degree. She became wife to her maternal cousin, and mother to a son and daughter. She was one of the UAE female poets of the eighties, who began publishing her poems and literary writings under various pseudonyms, such as Abu Dhabi Nights, Um Khaled Nights, Wanat Alam or Layali. However, in her most recent four publications in 2019 and 2020, she opted to use her full name.
This type of ankle-length, long-sleeved tunic dress (Kandurah_arabiyah), is particular to the UAE. It sports a vertical slit (Shaj) located on the left side of the neckline (Halj) that extends down the chest. Its origins are believed to lie in the Punjabi Kurta. Cut from silver and gold repetitive palm-size leaf motifs brocaded (Mzarai) on a royal purple Indian silk, locally known as (Manarasi).
In this example, the neckline (Halj) and sleeve cuffs (Hyul) are both machine embroidered (Khwar_Zari) in repetitive floral motifs of green, red and royal blue silk thread (Brisam), on a dense metallic gold background (Zari).
The neckline and sleeves are fastened using metal snap-press studs (Siq_w_biq). At the time it was made, these metal studs were seen as a sign of modernity, trendiness, and social stature. On other similar garments, cotton thread buttons (’igam) were used. While in later examples, transparent plastic ones became the norm.