Afghan Dress

“A Baluch beggar – ‘Dato obolum Belisario.” From the photograph album of Benjamin Simpson, 1879-1880. “A Baluch beggar – ‘Dato obolum Belisario.” From the photograph album of Benjamin Simpson, 1879-1880.
Published in Afghan Dress

5. Baluchi traditional dress

The Baluch live in southern Afghanistan near the borders with Iran and Pakistan. Other Baluch live in Pakistan and Iran, and along the opposite coast of the Persian Gulf (especially in Oman). Traditionally their lands are known as Baluchistan. They settled in this part of the world in the medieval period, having migrated from what is now northwestern Iran.

Many Baluch still live a nomadic or semi-nomadic life. In the past, Baluchi men were wearing white or indigo dyed trousers under a long shirt (jama), normally buttoned on the right shoulder. Over this was worn the kurti, a cotton robe of Indian origin, densely pleated at the waist and tied on one side with strings. Nowadays the main outfit for men consists of the shalwar kamiz, well-known from other ethnic groups living in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is made up of trousers (shalwar) and a long shirt (kamiz) with a  front opening. They often also are donned with a large, cotton shoulder scarf (pushti). In colder weather, they may wear an overcoat (qaba), a waistcoat (sadri), and a woollen blanket (sal).

2008.0229 2Detail of a Baluchi woman's dress from Afghanistan, early twenty-first century (TRC 2008.0229). For more information, click on the illustration.The headgear consists of a snugly fitting cap (topi) and a turban (pag; sometimes called a lungi). Baluchi caps are often made of cotton with fine silk or cotton embroidery, in floral or geometric patterns. They sometimes incorporate minute mirrors (shisha). The front of the topi is often shaped, because the Baluch are Sunni Muslims and require their foreheads to touch the ground when praying. Such caps are also worn by the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan (especially in the Kandahar area). Baluchi turbans are normally wrapped in numerous, large rolls and the final appearance is quite different from the turbans worn by Pashtun men.

Women’s outfits all over the Baluchi world consist of ankle length trousers (shalwar), which are gathered at the waist; an ankle-length, loose fitting dress (paskh), and a large shawl or outer cover (chador). A feature of Baluchi women’s clothing is the embroidery, which once was largely hand worked, but in contemporary times made by machine. This decoration consists of four panels of embroidery, namely a large yoke covering the chest, two panels on the sleeve cuffs, and a large, narrow, rectangular pocket that runs from the waistline to the hem of the dress.






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