77th Independence Day calls for traditional Jordanian attire

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AMMAN — Today, Jordanians are celebrating the 77th anniversary of the Kingdom’s independence. To commemorate the celebration, many Jordanians opt for donning their traditional attire, a homage to the country’s national identity.اضافة اعلان

This sartorial legacy, a mirror of their unique identity, culture, and the historical essence that permeates the Jordanian soil, tells tales of their civilization evolving over centuries.

It's fascinating to observe how human societies, in their historical tapestry, have curated diverse forms of attire influenced by their geographical and psychological landscape, eventually growing to signify their cultural wealth.

These creations of clothing are the societal reflections of aesthetic grace and cultural opulence, harmoniously unifying culture, tradition, and heritage.

A growing national imperativeConsequently, experts and enthusiasts alike have expressed a growing sentiment in designating a national day to celebrate traditional Jordanian attire, a tribute to the narrative of a nation and its people.

The Jordan News Agency, Petra, journeyed into the history of Jordanian traditional dress, exploring its popularity in local markets.

The traditional garb is sought after for celebrations and weddings, as gifts among fellow citizens, and even foreign dignitaries, as it paints a portrait of the nation's cultural ethos.

The madraqa One striking example is the madraqa, a women's dress rich in variety - from length to embroidery to colors.

Despite the differences, each madraqa adorns the wearer with a charm and originality that modern fashion often fails to capture.

Many experts and enthusiasts have come to a consensus for the need to dedicate a national day for this dress, emphasizing its importance as a cultural insignia of the nation.

A surge in demand for traditional wear Shop owners have noticed a surge in demand for traditional Jordanian attire over recent years, worn with pride on various occasions, even presented as gifts to international figures.

Hind Khleifat, a journalist passionat about traditional Jordanian attire expressed her adoration for the traditional As-Salt dress, viewing it as the ideal ambassador for the Kindgom’s heritage and national identity.
For her, Jordanian dresses are grace and originality.

Meanwhile, Tharwa Abu Darwish, a devotee of Jordanian heritage, perceives a rising enthusiasm among women to acquire and don these dresses on various occasions.

She described the components of the hormozi dress, a bridal attire, which exudes beauty and decency through its intricate elements.

Tradition is trending Manaf Obeidat, a traditional fashion designer, noted that vintage embroidery is trending in contemporary weddings and events.

She believes that when one wears an embroidered piece, they are donning a narrative of dedication, evening labor, planning, color coordination, and hard work.

She revealed that the prices of these handmade masterpieces vary between JD200 to JD700, depending on the extent of workmanship.

The dress, embroidered with special "embroidery rolls" made of French silk, requires the labor of at least three skilled women and can take between two to four months to complete. The ultimate product represents not just a garment, but an enduring symbol of heritage, craft, and passion.

Human history in each stitch Dr. Muhammad Barakat Tarawneh, Professor of Archaeology at Al-Hussein Bin Talal University's Petra College of Tourism and Antiquities, illuminates the rich tapestry of human history as woven by the ancient Near East.

He outlines the region's pivotal role in humanity's metamorphosis into agricultural societies and the domestication of animals since the dawn of the Neolithic era.

Sheep, in particular, began a long and partnership with mankind by providing wool, a sustainable, affordable material that took a liking to dyes.

Becoming the cornerstone of the textile industry, a reign unbroken from Neolithic times to the present day.

Evidence during the stone age He explained that while the ebb of time has led to the decay of these textiles, crafted from organic material, the sands of archaeology have presented us with a treasure trove of evidence related to the textile industry during the Stone Age.

For instance, textile spinning tools, vestiges of a civilization over 9,000 years old, have been discovered in numerous Neolithic sites scattered throughout the Kingdom.

According to Tarawneh, people of the Stone Age, much like us, held a certain fascination for embellishments.

Colored stones, bones, and various seashells from far-off lands like the Mediterranean and the Red Sea were gathered and transformed into ornate necklaces.

Fast forward to the Chalcolithic period, archaeological finds illustrate the evolution of the textile and clothing industry.

Compelling evidence includes artifacts from the warrior cave near Ariha in northern Karak, notably a large piece of cloth used for the funeral wrapping of the departed.

Furthermore, the discovery of exquisitely made sandal leather shoes, devoid of any nails or adhesives and comparable to modern craftsmanship, is a testament to the industry's advancement.

Cotton threads, a significant discovery
Tarawneh highlights one of the most significant discoveries by archaeologists - the oldest cotton threads in the Near East, hailing from the Jordan Valley region and dating back over 7,000 years, discovered in the northeastern Badia, specifically at the site of Dhuila.

These cotton threads, preserved within a plaster fracture over 5,000 years old, are solid evidence of early human interaction with cotton and the variety of materials used in clothing manufacture.

As humanity entered the Bronze Ages, the clothing and textile industry blossomed further. From humble beginnings nearly 10,000 years ago, the art of spinning and weaving, once limited to domestic production, evolved into a specialized industry.

Key evidence of this evolution includes the sketches found in the Bani Hassan cemetery in Egypt, over 4,000 years old, depicting visitors from the southern Levant visiting Egypt.

Difference between men and women’s clothing
Tarawneh noted interesting differences in men's and women's clothing. Men sported shorter attire than women, occasionally featuring skirts, and donned sandals.

Women, on the other hand, wore longer clothes and shoes that enveloped the entire foot. A riot of colors and decorations was apparent in both men's and women's garments, ranging from white, blue, and orange hues.

This colorful display highlights the growth of the dye industry and an increasing interest in pattern diversity.

Women's hair ties were a common feature. This fascination for varying motifs and colors echoes in modern traditional clothing, with women taking particular pride in multicolored, pattern-rich embroidery.
Researcher and writer Nayef Al-Nawaisa noted that Jordanians possess a distinct style in their attire, visible across genders and age groups.

Traditional attire for every occasion
This style sets them apart from other cultures, serving as a heritage identity or 'sign language'. This unique aesthetic is most evident during events like weddings, funerals, and holidays, where these occasions act as stages for showcasing each society's deep-rooted national heritage.

He added that considering the fabric and colors of these traditional costumes, one can't help but wonder about their origins, their journey to Jordan, and the process of tailoring them.

Whether arriving by train from Damascus to Amman or from southern stops at Mafraq, Zizia, Qatraneh, Al-Hasa, and Maan stations, the provenance of these materials, largely from Syria, is a fascinating tale in itself.

Al-Nawaisah highlighted the exquisite craftsmanship a man poured into sewing his kimbaz (cloak) and trousers, which would be tailored to harmonize with his abaya and headgear.

He pointed out how social standing dictated the style of attire; a shepherd's clothes would vary significantly from those of the sheikh he served, distinguished by the quality of the fabric and the craftsmanship of the stitching.

In a similar vein, the women's attire varied according to age and marital status. Elderly women would don play dresses, whereas young women preferred the madraqa. Special ensembles were designated for brides and grooms, further illustrating societal nuances in fashion.

Al-Nawaisah explained that ceremonial attire contrasted with daily wear. A woman would typically adorn a dracaena for occasions like weddings, but for daily chores like harvesting, fetching firewood and water, milking sheep, and making dairy products, the practicality of an abaya and a council cloth would be favored. Men followed a similar sartorial principle.

Currently, however, there has been a transformation in clothing styles, particularly due to the advent of sewing associations, with the risk of some traditional costumes disappearing, and being replaced by new styles.

Al-Nawaisah shared a fascinating anecdote of women seamstresses, who would sometimes prepare a bride's attire in installments, awaiting the season's harvest due to limited cash reserves.

Sometimes, their sewing fee would be paid in grain or sheep, highlighting the monetary challenges faced by the less fortunate. In contrast, affluent farmers, sheep owners, and merchants faced no financial constraints.

Al-Nawaisah emphasized that our ancestors treasured these traditional costumes, passing them on through generations as they formed an integral part of their identity.

They were apprehensive of change, whether in the fabric or color of their attire. Men's clothing, including the kimbaz, dishdash (thobe), trousers, and headdress, retained their traditional hues and design, while women's attire predominantly featured black, with the sight of a woman in a white or red veil being a rarity.

The Jordanian shemagh
Dr. Amer Abu Jabla, a history professor at Mutah University, expressed his admiration for the Jordanian keffiyeh (the shemagh). It is adorned with fringing that adds to its charm and splendor and is worn over a headband made of goat hair.

In the past, it was considered indecorous for both men and women to venture out without a head covering. Men of high status and beauty, in particular, boasted a transparent white shemagh and headband as a mark of pride.

Al-Nawaisah noted that a key element of Jordanian women's traditional attire lies in their sartorial commitment to complete modesty, with loose garments covering the entire body except for the face, hands, and feet. This aligns with religious teachings or societal norms, and black seems to be the dominant color in women's traditional dress.

A woman's head covering is usually made of gerjit fabric. The band of a woman from Karak closely resembles that of a woman from As-Salt or Ajloun.

Not just a dress, but a story Anthropologist and author, Hind Suleiman, shared an insightful perspective on women's attire. She posited that a woman's dress isn't just a garment, but a storyteller. Far from a product of fashion designers, it was conceptualized, hand-sewn, and embroidered by the women themselves, encapsulating authentic artistry and powerful social connections.

A single pair of hands wasn't sufficient for the task, leading women to convene and collaborate on creating the dress.

She elaborated that Jordanian women posses two types of dresses - a simple, light-colored one for daily work and agricultural tasks, and a beautiful, heavily embroidered dress, called the madsoos saved for joyous occasions.

For such occasions, the Tals dress, resplendent in its heavy embroidery and vibrant colors, was another popular choice.

For somber occasions, particularly mourning, a dress with light embroidery and moderate colors was designated, reflecting the mood of the wearer or the community.

Suleiman explained that women used their embroidery to depict flora, fauna, and landscapes, employing threads in earthy greens and sky blues.

The affluent incorporated gold and silver threads into their garments, while women of modest means utilized cotton threads. Regardless of their economic status, every woman sought to own an embroidered dress that would command admiration among her peers.

Despite regional variations in clothing, all outfits shared a common structure, comprising an upper chest part from which descended the 'frontal body.' Embroidery adorned the right and left sides of the garment in linear patterns, possibly featuring flowers, leaves, or bird motifs, often a hoopoe, believed to bring good luck.

The sleeves of the dress or garments, known as the singular ones, varied depending on the region. These sleeves served multiple purposes, from wrapping a woman's head, hiding her smile out of modesty, offering comfort during pregnancy, or even providing temporary storage for grape harvests.

Suleiman also shared a fascinating detail about women in financial hardship who would burn wheat to extract and sell the gold or silver threads in their dresses. The hattah, a headdress that could be up to four meters long, was usually saved for special occasions due to its weight.

She noted that the northern dress, extending from Ar-Ramtha through Jerash to the Irbid governorate and Ajloun, was the most common and diverse.

Its defining feature is the embroidery with red, blue, and green cotton threads, symbolizing the earth and its fertility.

Ar-Ramtha notable featureHe continued to remark about the distinct dress of women from Ramtah was a the colors utilized in its design. From white embroidery to the colored German headscarf, it was a story about clothing adorned with flowers, was brought back from
Germany by men who had traveled there for work.

Madaba In Madaba, women traditionally wore a black dress embroidered with a belt around the waist. The sleeves were long and wide, but the right one was the longest and was typically draped over the shoulder. The bride's dress was similar in design but stood out due to its vibrant colors like yellow, green, and blue.

Karak Southern women, particularly those from Karak, were renowned for their expertise in designing, embroidering, and fabric selection.

The typical dress could be made from a variety of fabrics, reflecting the woman's economic status. Embroidery threads varied from cotton to silk, and some designs even incorporated colored Czech beads.

The Karaki dress was typically sleeveless and worn over a brightly colored shirt that matched the embroidery. This was the typical attire for young women, while older women wore a black or lightly embroidered dress with a dark shirt underneath.

Women from Tafilah had similar dress styles to the women of Karak, likely due to the geographical proximity and intermarriage between the two regions. The bride in this region wore a cloak on her head and adorned her forehead with ostrich feathers, which was a distinguishing feature of the time.

Ma’an In Ma’an, however, the dress style differed significantly in terms of fabric, colors, and design. The Hormozidress was worn by women across all economic strata.

Sociologist Dr. Hussein Al-Khuzai highlighted that Jordanian folk embroidery was considered a fine art, and one of the most significant historical arts in Jordan.
Through this art, Jordanians have been able to document their history and express their beliefs and social thinking patterns.

Jordanian traditional attire reflects social, religious, economic, and geographical norms and connotations. For instance, the colors of traditional Jordanian dress can indicate a woman's age; a red band for a young woman, a black band for an older woman.

Furthermore, a married woman would wear a differently colored dress compared to a single woman, each region having its own customs. Each occasion also has its own specific dress and decorations; work, joy, sadness, and especially weddings have specific dress specifications.

Al-Khuzai also noted that recently, some travel companies, hotels, and other institutions have begun to use Jordanian folk dress as an official uniform for their female employees to showcase the traditional attire.

What distinguishes the traditional Jordanian dress, according to Al-Khuzai, is its color palette, which closely matches the Jordanian flag with the predominant use of black and red.

These colors symbolize pride, and they also reflect the link between the country's attire, heritage, and identity, reinforcing an individual's connection to their history and culture. This pride in their shared identity is a significant part of life in Jordan.

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