Jordanian Traditional Costumes

Traditional women’s costumes in Jordan are quite unique.


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As with Palestine and Syria, there is a great deal of regional variation within a small geographic area, which reflects different styles of living (for example, the agricultural societies of northern Jordan, and the bedouin nomadic and settled communities of the south).

In the 19th century the majority of textiles used for clothing in Jordan were purchased in Syria or Palestine. By the early 20th century handwoven indigo dyed cloths were preferred, with these later being replaced, in about 1920, by black cotton.  Most Jordanian costumes are recognizable by the long rectangular opening slit or decorative panel on the front of the dresses.

Costumes in the north of the country usually were made up of one length, with long tight sleeves and a low neckline, and were called a shirsh. Decoration came in the form of embroidery around the neckline, hem and the sides of the costume.

The dresses of central and southern Jordan were sometimes of double length, with long pointed sleeves. These double dresses thob 'ob (or "folded dresses") are particularly fascinating seen out of context - whether hung out a window in a Jordanian village to dry, or as seen in displays such as this - where their length makes them almost impossible to imagine as a garment. One story was told was that the dress should be as long as the living room of it’s wearer (thus revealing social status - the longer the dress, the bigger the house).  There are several different styles - some, featured an enormously bulky body with huge sleeves that were often worn draped over the head or used as shopping baskets.  Others, with long likes of embroidery running from chest height to the folded hem and with mush smaller (normal sized) winged sleeves were known as berame. 

Thob 'ub were popular among some of the Jordanian bedouin tribes as well as being found in the Salt and Kerak region.  They are usually worn with a rectangular black or red silk and metallic brocade scarf 'asbe harir worn rolled up and wound around the head with the tassels falling down the centre of the back.

Jordianian costumes are beautifully displayed in the Museum of Popular Traditions in Amman , in the Dar el Tifl Museum in Jerusalem and in the Tareq Rajab Museum, Kuwait.

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