Ghalib al Inizi is an antique dealer, based in Kuwait. In 2018, he reached out to Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli through The Zay Initiative’s Instagram account and expressed great interest in supporting The Zay Initiative’s activities. To date, he has helped The Zay Initiative source numerous articles of dress, not just from Kuwait, but from many other areas across the Arab world.
This overgarment (Thawb bu_nunah) as it is known in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Iraq, or (bu_nafah) as it is commonly referred to in the UAE, is made of a coarse, loose, black reticulate cotton net in point d’esprit style tulle (tur) and is woven in clusters of spots, creating seven-petal flowers, neatly arranged together in vertical lines.
Sewn-in Kuwait in 1972, in vertical and horizontal panels creating an overall traditional T-shape, with small side gussets (ibt), of the same fabric, separating the wide upper and lower sleeve (kmum) panels.
The round fitted neck opening, sports a V-shaped slit down the front. It is cut further down the fold of the central panel, and so, when the thawb is worn, it sits off the shoulder and the back end hangs longer than the front end, creating an elegant train (thayil).
It is devoid of any embroidery or embellishment and in this fashion is customarily worn over underpants (sirwal) and a tunic dress (dara’ah) or a waist-cinched dress (nafnuf) at home for daily chores or to receive family members.
Large oval-shaped necklines, be it plain or embellished, are characteristic of the early 1920s -1960s overgarments (athwab) worn in Iraq, Kuwait, and by the Bedouins of the levant as well as Egyptian peasants. Bahraini overgarments (athwab) are recognised by their fitted round neckline with a central slit that soon became widely imported by most of the Arab Gulf region from as early as the 1980s. While in the UAE, overgarments (athwab) are distinguished by their square-shaped neckline.
Traditional women’s dress in Kuwait, Salwa al Maghribi, 2006