When thinking of the Middle East, stereotype images of bearded men and veiled women tend to come to mind. But this neighbour of Europe is far more diverse than we think. In the past few years, media coverage of the Arab Spring and the dramatic war in Syria and Iraq has placed groups such as the Copts and Kurds in the limelight, but there are many more ethnic and religious groups that are similarly not defined by national borders.
This exhibition showcased the rich dress traditions of some of the groups living in the Middle East, highlighting the intricate history of this region. They included Copts, Bedouin, Palestinians, Druze, Orthodox Jews, Samaritans, Kurds and Zoroastrians. The dress traditions of these groups were displayed and discussed in relation to 'mainstream' Middle Eastern dress. The exhibition displayed more than forty complete outfits for men, women and children, together with individual garments, footwear, headgear and prayer beads. It also included an historical section on Ottoman-style clothing, such as the kaftan and the fez, which so often has influenced contemporary clothing traditions in the Middle East. Many of the items on display encompassed traditionally woven and embroidered decorative forms.
The exhibition formed part of the Fitting In / Standing Out project of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.
For a photographic impression of the exhibition, click here.
The exhibition was on display from Monday 3rd April until Thursday 29th June, from Monday to Thursday, from 10.00 - 16.00.