Tajik woman’s veiling garment or paranja

Made by Tajik people in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, c.1900.

Robes with false sleeves like those on this woman’s paranja have a long tradition in Central Asia, and over time have been worn by both men and women. While this style of garment probably did not originally denote adherence to Islam, by the end of the nineteenth century paranjas were mandatory street wear for the urban Muslim women of Central Asia. Uzbek and Tajik women, from young girls to elderly matriarchs, always wore the paranja with a horsehair face veil called a chachvan when venturing ou...


Object No.


Physical Description

Veiling garment (paranja), womens, embroidered, ikat lining, silk / cotton / metallic ornaments / beads, made by a Tajik woman in Bukhara, Russian Turkestan, c. 1900

This woman's veiling garment or paranja is made of white watered silk with an extremely fine black pin-stripe. At the back, long narrowing false sleeves fall almost to the hem. On either side of the front opening are slits for the hands. The paranja is heavily ornamented with purple braid and rows of black embroidery around all edges and four elaborate toggle closings at the front. The 'sleeves' at the back lie flat and are edged with coloured braid and hung with dozens of colourful, finely-made tassels. The paranja has been lined with two different ikat-patterned materials.



835 mm



Robes with long vestigial sleeves, worn over the head and shoulders, have a long tradition in Central Asia. A garment with very narrow long decorated sleeves was amongst the finds in the 2500 year old grave site at Pazyryk in Western Siberia. Evidence of similar costumes can be found on some bas reliefs and sculptures at Persepolis, on the Oxus treasure and on terracotta figurines from Afrasiab (ancient Samarkand). As this style of garment predates the Arab invasion of the 8th century CE, it also clearly predates Islam in the region.

Early (19th century) paranjas were quite sober in appearance, being mostly made from blue or silvery-grey and finely-striped cotton fabric like this example. With the availability of new materials, paranja design became rather more adventurous and a fashionable woman might wear one made from bright ikat, velvet or brocade. The form however remained very much the same. Decoration also changed as tassels, buttons, metallic ornaments were lavished on the paranja to enhance the simple black braid and black embroidery of earlier times.

Unlike other items of women's dress, the paranja was not made at home but was commissioned from women who specialised in their production. It appears that the measurements were standardised. The extraordinarily even black embroidery is hand done, while the bright tassels that ornament the back of this paranja have finely-woven petal-shaped tops, and many are additionally embellished with tiny glass beads.


Tajik people c.1900



Paranjas were worn by urban Tajik and Uzbek women in Russian Turkestan in conjunction with a face veil (chachvan) whenever they left the confines of their own home. The broad collar band rested on top of the head from where the cloak hung down in heavy folds to the ground, with the edges meeting at the front. Underneath the woman wore her regular dress of kurta and drawstring trousers, coat, cap and scarf. Although the paranja and veil were more a symbol of modesty and respectability than one of strict segregation, a good Muslim woman could not leave her home without wearing both articles of body cover.
Purchased by Christina Sumner in Bukhara during an overseas-on-duty visit to Central Asia in October 1999, and sponsored for the Museum collection by the Oriental Rug Society of New South Wales.


Uzbek people c.1900


Credit Line

Purchased for the collection by the Oriental Rug Society of New South Wales, 2003

Acquisition Date

29 October 2003

Cite this Object


Tajik woman's veiling garment or paranja 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 15 October 2018, <https://ma.as/319779>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/319779 |title=Tajik woman's veiling garment or paranja |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=15 October 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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