Chadar, or burqa, from Afghanistan, 19th century. Chadar, or burqa, from Afghanistan, 19th century. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, acc. no. IS.23:1-1889.

The chadari, also often called a burqa, is a form of head and body covering, often decorated with hand or machine embroidery, worn by many women in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two names, chadari and burqa, have been used for this style of garment for a long time. Basically, burqa is the Pakistani term, while chadari is used in Afghanistan. However, most Westerners use the term burqa for both forms.

The garment consists of a cap, a cape section (body covering) and a front panel that incorporates an eye grid. The cap, panel and grid are usually decorated with embroidery. In particular the eye grids are traditionally worked using pulled thread work, although modern versions are usually machine embroidered.

The Pakistani version (burqa) has many gathers at the top of the body covering, which are used to control the excess material. These are made using a drawn thread and then sewn in place to the cap. The folds at the junction between the cap and cape may be smocked to create a honeycomb effect.

The Afghan version (chadari) has a body covering with hundreds of narrow pleats that are gathered together and then sewn into the cap. The pleats are not normally smocked.

Source: VOGELSANG-EASTWOOD, Gillian, and Willem VOGELSANG (2008). Covering the Moon. An Introduction to Middle Eastern Face Veils, Louvain: Peeters. pp. 184-191.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 7 June 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 03 October 2016 17:53