Afghan Dress

Pointed Uzbek-style skull cap, Afghanistan, 1990's. Pointed Uzbek-style skull cap, Afghanistan, 1990's. TRC 1997.0153.
Published in Afghan Dress

11. Uzbek traditional dress

The Uzbek are a Turkic people of Central Asian origin, and they live primarily in modern Uzbekistan, but there are large populations in northern Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. A feature of both male and female Uzbek clothing is the use of ikats and embroidery.

In the past, Uzbek men were wearing cotton trousers and a long cotton tunic. The trouser legs and cuffs were often embroidered. One or more kaftans (chapan), often in ikat, were worn on top. The kaftan reached to just below the knees, so exposing the decorated parts of the trousers. The outer kaftan was fastened with a sash. The headdress consisted of a pointed skull cap with a (white) turban.

Modern Uzbek dress for men is basically a Westernized outfit consisting of a shirt with trousers. However, on special occasions, an Uzbek festival outfit is worn consisting of shirt and trousers, over which is worn an ikat or embroidered coat. The traditional Uzbek skull cap, which still often has a pointed crown, is characterised by its embroidered decoration.

“Oosbegs of Mooraud Beg” Plate 20 of 'Afghaunistan' by Lieutenant James Rattray (1847/8).“Oosbegs of Mooraud Beg” Plate 20 of 'Afghaunistan' by Lieutenant James Rattray (1848).There are two main types of outfits traditionally worn by Uzbek women in Afghanistan. The first consists of a pair of ikat trousers and an ikat dress. The head covering for girls usually consists of a small cap, often in velvet. The headdress of a married woman is slightly more complicated and consists of headscarf or a cap covered with a large shawl, often of white or a pale colour. On special occasions a coat is worn over the dress, which is made from either ikat cloth or a plain material decorated with embroidery.

2016.1802 2Embroidered crown of an Uzbek-style skull cap for a man, Afghanistan, 1950s-1970s (TRC 2016.1802). For more information, click on the illustration.The second, more conservative outfit consists of baggy trousers and a wide dress embroidered with large, colourful floral motifs. This is worn with an open fronted coat with a defined waist. The main outer garment is a long coat with false sleeves that is draped over the shoulders. The outer coat is often embroidered, but not as vividly as the dress. A large shawl (chador) is used to cover the head and body.

For a TRC Needles entry on Uzbek embroidered clothing, click here.



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