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16 From Baghdad to Calcutta: 19th and early 20th century clothing

Changes in Clothing over Time

“…Middle class Baghdadi women in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century wore wrappers (in their homes). These loose cotton gowns flowed from their shoulders to the ankle, much like a kaftan, with wide gathered collars and elbow length sleeves, often trimmed with lace. They wore a petticoat and drawers under the wrapper. Married women covered their heads with yasmas (scarves) that were fastened around gathered knots of hair or knotted at the forehead. When they went outdoors, their wrappers were covered with shawls….”

For formal wear the women wore “gowans” which were elaborate long dresses that were current fashion in the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

“Iraqi Jewish men in the middle and late nineteenth century also wore Arabic style clothing both at home and outside. Their clothing was loose and flowing. They wore a dagla (long coat), kamsan (long shirt), lasban (undershirt) and sadaria (outer vest). Many men also wore turbans and comfortable slippers. It was not till the turn of the century that the dagla gave way to the suit, the wrapper to the dress. By the early twentieth century affluent Jewish men wearing ties, and buttoned-up shoes to the synagogue presented a different image from the older generation with their flowing regal robes and elaborate slippers. Other classes of Jews followed their lead and wore Western clothing, though it was less formal. With regard to language, too, Arabic and Hindustani yielded to English.”

From Jewish Portraits, Indian Frames: Women’s Narratives from A Diaspora of Hope”, by Jael Silliman.