The complete hinnah ceremony outfit was worn by Sheikhah Mariam bint Said bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi on her hinnah night (laylat_al_hinnah) before her marriage to Sheikh Marwan bin Rashid Al Mualla of Umm al Quwain in 2010. It has only been worn on this one occasion. The outfit was designed, commissioned, and presented to Sheikha Mariam by her aunt Sheikhah Moza bint Hamdan al Nahyan.
Dr. Reem Tariq el Mutwalli has known Sheikhah Mariam from birth, as she is a childhood friend of her mother Sheikha Fakhira bint Mubarak al Nahyan. We are fortunate to have a few of the young Sheikha’s gowns from her youth in The Zay collection.
Before the advent of oil wealth in the Gulf region, an Emirati hinnah night called laylat_al_hinnah had traditionally been a modest affair, attended mainly by close friends and family. The increase in wealth and the subsequent rise in social competitiveness, along with the use of the colour green for hinnah ceremony clothes, appeared in the UAE from the 1980s imported from neighbouring countries. Not only did these new traditions lead to greater pageantry and displays of opulence, with music, food and singing, but the number of attendees increased to include at times hundreds of people, now including more distant relatives and a wider circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The clothes that concealed the bride while sitting on a small raised stage, became the centrepiece of this desire to display as manifested in the pieces from this ensemble.
The entire hinnah night ensemble is a reflection of the amalgamation of old and new, local and imported customs. While honouring the tradition of hiding the bride, more elaborate approaches were devised to highlight her during the ceremony.
The undergarment is a testament to the sophisticated craftsmanship reached locally, when compared to work from the past century.
The cuff embellishments are now elaborate, and match the rest of the ensemble. The floral motifs are hand embroidered (shak) in gold and crystal multi-shaped glass beads and sequins (folak) on to an emerald green mesh or tulle (tur) fabric. This is then cut to shape and the tulle is applied to key sections of the garment, as evident on theses ankle cuffs (badlah).
The baggy waistline is gathered and fixed in place with elasticated band replacing earlier more traditional cotton cord (nsai’ah). The more tapered legs with embroidered ankle-cuffs are opened and closed with the aid of a zipper. Earlier versions used traditional cotton thread ball buttons (igam) and more recent, metal snap studs (siq_w_biq).