This floral print, sheer silk overgarment (thawb), has a striking fuchsia (busi) pink base printed in a repetitive branch motif, where one rose is in blue and the other is in purple, with leaves in dark green and the whole is outlined in white.
The overall simple shape is derived by plainly folding a length of fabric and cutting an opening (halj) at the center of the fold to allow the head to pass through, creating the neckline (bidhah) and the central axis. The two outer edges of the folded fabric are then stitched from the hip line down to the lower hemline, on both sides, creating two large openings for the hands to pass through forming the quintessential wide sleeves (jinan).
The neckline and central axis are adorned with silver embroidery (khwar_tulah). The embroidery is in simple geometric lines that feature a dense silver base (tulah) highlighted in red silk thread (brisam) in repeated cross motif called (bu_slib), a style very popular in the Emirates from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Light white calico cotton is typically used as lining to enforce the fabric and enable the compact machine embroidery on the relatively sheer fabric, with raw-cut outlines remaining clearly visible from underneath as the gown is worn.
This garment represents a physical example of the traditional Arabic saying (zinah_wa_khazinah), meaning ‘beauty and wealth in one.’ The silver was employed to demonstrate style and reflect social status, but could also be melted down and sold in times of need.