Siwa Bridal Trousers (Egypt)

Bridal trousers, Siwa oasis, Egypt. Bridal trousers, Siwa oasis, Egypt. Courtesy Textile Research Centre, Leiden, acc. no. TRC 2008.0494.

Bridal trousers (srawelin khatem) form part of the distinctive outfit traditionally worn by brides in the Siwa oasis, Egypt. They are made of white or black cotton and very wide around the waist and hips. The lower part of each trouser leg are decorated with panels of embroidery. The embroidery yarns used to be floss silk, but by the late twentieth century a rayon imitation of pure silk, perlé cotton or cotton threads were used.

Siwa embroidery uses a range of stitches and embroidery techniques. In particular, couching is used with various stitches, such as a blanket stitch worked over Roumanian stitch, or a couching thread held in place with a couched cross stitch (producing a form of laidwork).

The designs on the trouser cuffs are normally heavily decorated with a series of squares, divided into four parts. Seven or more of these trousers are made, one pair for every day of the wedding celebrations. After the festivities the trousers become part of the woman’s everyday dress.

The trousers are normally held in place at the waist with a cloth band (dequet), which is decorated at both ends with small bands of embroidery and tassels (jeshushet).

See also the TRC Needles entries on Siwa bridal outfit; Siwa bridal dress; Siwa head and body coverings; Siwa oasis embroidery and Siwa bridal footwear


  • ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM (1986). Égypte, Oasis d’Amun-Siwa, Geneva: Musée d’Ethnographie.
  • MEHREZ, Shahira and Gillian VOGELSANG-EASTWOOD (2016). 'Embroidery from Egypt,' in: Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood (ed.), Encyclopedia of Embroidery from the Arab World, London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 264-293, esp. 284-292.
  • VALE, Margaret Mary (2011). Sand and Silver: Jewellery, Costume and Life in Siwa Oasis, York: York Publishing Services Ltd.

TRC online catalogue (retrieved 17th April 2017).


Last modified on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 11:02