Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli was initially contacted on Instagram by Mariam Khalfan Mohammed Khalifah al Maydi al Badwawi, who offered to volunteer and help source old artefacts from the northern Emirates for the Zay Collection. Mariam has been an invaluable addition to our team, as she connects easily with people and patiently explains our role, convincing others to help the cause. This gold embroidered overgarment (Thawb Khwar_Zari) is one of her finds.
The overgarment comes from Wadi Qor, one of the ancient inhabited valleys of Ras al Khaimah, close to the Omani border. The owner was Ruwayah Mohammed Hashil al Qaydi, married with three boys and six daughters. She wore this Thawb on many family and social occasions before passing it on to The Zay Initiative.
Before the 1980s, it was common to employ contrasting colours and techniques within the components of UAE traditional dress. Women used to wear an overgarment (Thawb) that was distinct and in contrast to the tunic dress (Kandurah) underneath. Soon this evolved into matching sets known as (Thawb_wa_kandurah), where the two garments were made of the same or matching fabrics and colours. By the late 1990s, this evolved further, as the two separate articles were merged into one and became attached at the neckline, utilising the inner tunic as lining and creating a combination overgarment tunic (Thawb_kandurah).
This example appears to have been part of a Thawb_wa_kandurah ensemble, it’s tunic dress Kandurah has since been lost, possibly given away.
The Thawb is simply made of a cut length of silk fabric, printed in green and blue abstract floral design, folded with an opening created at the center of the fold for the neckline (Halj), it is then machine stitched on the lower portions of both edges of the fabric to create the openings for the arms (Jinan).
The neckline is decorated with arabesque and floral motifs created by machine embroidered metallic gold and teal (Khwar_Zari) on a dense metallic silver base covering the whole neckline and central axis (Bidhah).