Girl’s veiling garment or paranja, Uzbekistan

Made by Uzbek people in Turkestan, c.1920.

This veiling cloak or paranja for a young Muslim girl is a miniature version of those which her mother and grandmother would have worn in Central Asia before the advent of the Soviet era in the 1920s. Until then the paranja, which was worn over the head with a horsehair face veil or chachvan, was mandatory street wear for all urban Uzbek and Tajik women, from girls of marriageable age to elderly matriarchs. Given that the vestigeal sleeves that hang down the back of a paranja are full length, it...

Summary

Object No.

2003/227/3

Physical Description

This small paranja or veiling cloak is made from satin-weave silk ikat (atlas) in red, yellow, green, black and white, and has been lined with three different factory-made printed cottons. The front is ornamented with cross stitch in black, green and red silk, decorative machine stitching, woven blue and black silk braid, black tassels, white buttons and tiny metallic discs stitched down with a small glass bead in the centre. Cross stitch embroidery in black, orange, white, red, burgundy, green and grey silks decorates the neck band and the front edges are bordered with woven zeh edging in black silk.

At the back long, narrowing false sleeves fall well below the hemline. These are feather-stitched together for most of their length with black silk and heavily ornamented with inverted Vs of blue and black silk braid with additional button and tassel ornamentation. The ends of the 'sleeves' are decorated with cross stitch embroidery in green, black, red, blue, orange and white silks.

Dimensions

Height

1155 mm

Width

685 mm

Production

Notes

This veiling cloak or paranja for a young Muslim girl has probably been cut down from one of her mother's or grandmother's and is what they would have worn in Central Asia before the advent of the Soviet era in the 1920s. The design is typical, with long false sleeves that hang well below the hem at the back. These false sleeves have a long tradition in Central Asia and, as they are common to both male and female costume historically, probably did not originally denote membership in Islam. They are stitched together side by side for most of their length, and are elaborately ornamented with woven silk braid, tassels, different-sized white pearl buttons, decorative machine stitching, cross-stitch embroidery and tassels.

The paranja is made of silk satin ikat (atlas) in shades of brown, yellow, green and pink, and the front is similarly decorated. Paranjas for younger girls were often brightly coloured like this example and elaborately embroidered with traditional, stylised floral or geometric designs, many of which are ancient and have symbolic meanings. On the front of this example, a stylised form of the popular tree-of-life motif has been extensively used. The tree-of-life, one of the oldest symbols known, supports the sky and provides a path from earth to heaven. The decorative braid (zeh or dziyak) around the front edges was an indispensable addition as a magical obstacle to evil spirits.

Unlike other items of women's dress, paranjas were not made at home but commissioned from women who specialised in their production. The measurements were therefore probably standardised. The cloth is a satin weave silk ikat called atlas which was probably woven in the Fergana Valley. The striped nature of the ikat pattern was composed by alternating narrow, differently-coloured and patterned bands of ikatted warp threads on the loom prior to weaving.

The body and sleeves of the garment were lined prior to construction and the two layers held firmly together and strengthened by working the decorative machine stitching and embroidery through both layers. The cross stitch head band was worked separately and inset into the garment before working directly onto the front edges of the paranja itself a narrow band of black silk zeh or dziyak braid. Woven or plaited braid in dark blue and black silk has been used to ornament the false sleeves and false pockets. The making of this braid was an independent craft and would have been added to the paranja at a specialist braid workshop.

Made

Uzbek people c.1920

History

Notes

The paranja or veiling cloak was worn by urban women and young girls of marriageable age in Russian Turkestan, in conjunction with a horsehair face veil or chachvan. Although the paranja was arguably more a symbol of modesty and respectability than of segregation, a good Muslim woman could not leave her home without wearing her paranja over dress and drawstring trousers, coat, cap and scarf. The broad collar-band sat on top of the head from where it hung down in heavy folds to the ground, while her face was concealed by the chachvan.
The young girl's paranja is part of a small group of textiles and dress collected by Christina Sumner, curator international decorative arts and design, while on-duty overseas in Central Asia in March 2000 and November 2002. The paranja was purchased for US$25.00 from a textile dealer in the covered market in old Bukhara, Uzbekistan in March 2002.

Used

Uzbek people

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 2003

Acquisition Date

22 December 2003

Cite this Object

Harvard

Girl's veiling garment or paranja, Uzbekistan 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 November 2018, <https://ma.as/319866>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/319866 |title=Girl's veiling garment or paranja, Uzbekistan |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 November 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

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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