Folk dresses in Yemen [Archives:2004/761/Community]

August 5 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
The folk dresses in Yemen vary; every Governorate's original citizens have their own uniforms according to hot and cold weather, and which form the dresses of Yemeni folklore. Yemeni dress is a simple feature but with beautiful color and decorative design reflecting the roots of its origin. The Yemeni people, since ancient times, used to put on dresses as a protection for the body.
They used to make it with cotton and silk materials to protect the body from the heat or the cool of the weather. Thenceforth, the Yemeni people innovated in developing clothes with colored silks, sea corals and artificial pearls; beads and drawings were used in embroidering the dresses. It is noted that the Yemeni people suffered in making and decorating their dresses, in which they expressed emotions, choices and meanings – the dress is an important means of clarifying the ethics of the society. The folk dresses are of historical importance, and distinguish the civilization of each governorate of the Yemen Republic according to its climate. For example, the people in Aden incline to put on cotton and soft silk dresses as a result of much heat fromthe sun. In the colder northern areas, the people put on al-zannah which is a womens dress made up of wool, cotton and silk, and the men put on long Arab qamees, made up of cotton in addition to putting on their janbiah in the middle of the body which has become the symbol of popular traditions. The folk uniforms acquire an historical depth within society due to the evidences of folklore and history they contain.

Variety of Folk Dresses in Yemen
There are a multitude of folk dresses in Yemen, which exist due to the climate variations from one governorate to another, and according to geographical undulations and different raw materials found or grown in the governorate. Yemeni women were interested in jewels such as gold, silver and diamonds to ornamenting the breasts, the ears and the hands.

Yemeni textiles
The most important source for the fabrication of Yemeni textiles is long-seed cotton, natural silk, artificial silk and wool. In addition to good fabrication of textiles, is the marvelous decoration and perfected embroideries. Yemeni fabrication is of closely related to the history of Yemeni customs and traditions. Thus, Yemeni society is distinguished in originality by the preservation of culture in Yemeni dresses that make them proud to be worn and striking to wear. The Yemeni people hate imitation and do not look to outsiders as models. And the women, as a complement to their clothes, put on different titled jewels, which is a custom extended from historical folklore of the Yemeni civilization in which clothes were ornamented by rings and precious stones such as corals, onyx, corundum, pearls, amber and emerald.

Popular dresses and uniforms embroidering in Yemen
Yemeni women are famous for embroidering and decorating women and childrens dresses. There are also special workshops for drawings on men's dresses such as al ma'waz, koofiah (hats on men's heads) as well as on men's belts, and shoe fabrication. In embroidery, they use the separation and the colors. But, as regarding the embroidery and its types, there are two ways of fabricating and embroiding dresses: traditional fabrication, which is set up in homes, and modern industrial, which is in factories connected with yarn and textiles. So, embroidery has grown in a way extracted from the natural and geographical Yemeni environment.

Technical specifications in manufacturing Yemeni textiles
The type of textile materials used in the manufacturing of men's and women's clothing varies from one city to another depending on the type of weather and local tradition. In hot spots such as Aden and Hodiedah, for example, clothes are usually made of cotton and silk, while in much cooler areas, they are made of thicker materials such as wool. The design also depends on the condition and type of climate.