The way of dressing presents a significant proof to the cultural and historical ties and international relations and is a phenomenon which is influenced by the geographical environment of the nations and economic standards. Therefore, the way of dressing is closely related with the history of a nation and reflects interaction more than other elements of material culture. The way of dressing can reflect all the social, cultural, artistic and even political phases of a nation just a like a mirror.

Apart from the richness in style and ornaments, the garments in Southern Azerbaijan also attract attention with the fabrics they are made out of. The abundance and cheapness of raw material in the region has caused silk and wool industry to develop. The most important fabrics produced in Southern Azerbaijan were satin, taffeta, brocade, muslin, termeh, velvet and various types of cambric. Besides being consumed in the country, these products were also exported to foreign countries.

While the clothes for women were usually made out of silk, termeh and velvet, men?s clothing was made out of woolen fabrics, which were indigenously produced or imported. Linen and cotton were used in both the underwear of men and women while rich people preferred silk. In the past the ceremonial garments in Southern Azerbaijan are said to be made out of more expensive and more ornamented products and that the way of dressing made it easy to distinguish the age and family. For example there are some evident differences between the dressing style of single girl and a married woman. While young women prefer bright and vivid colors, elder women preferred less ornaments on their clothes. The shape of children clothing is similar to that of the adults? but some small differences can be seen due to their height and age.

It can be derived from sources that the women?s clothing in Southern Azerbaijan in the 19th and early 20th centuries consisted of underwear and outer clothing and both were separated as clothes that were worn on the shoulder and those that were worn on the waist. Based on the information received from sources, we will try to give examples of the national Azeri women clothing and explain their characteristics.

The koynak, which is one of the outer clothing, is generally made out of silk and seamless on the shoulders, has loose square sleeves and an extra piece below the arms to allow freedom of movement, is crew necked and has a slit in the front. It is a short piece of clothing and is called ?Goynek? in most of the regions.

Another outer wear, which is worn over the koynak is Jabken (a short embroidered jacket with full sleeves). This piece of clothing is tight and has a lining. The most important feature of the Jabken is its sleeves. The sleeves are extra-long and have different shapes and they loosely dangle down the arms. The seams on the lower part of the sleeves are not sown, only the ends of the sleeves are stitched. It is made out of silk brocade or velvet and its edges are cleanly lined with bias tape.

Another outer wear seen in Southern Azerbaijan is ?Arkalik?. It comes in different models, colors and flowered patterns. This piece of clothing is adored in Azerbaijan and is a tight piece of clothing, which reaches up to the waist and from the waist further widens down with pleats. It has long sleeves and the sleeves also widen further down from the elbows. It has a scoop neck and buttons up in the center front. The Arkaliks, which are of dark red color and which are made out of silk velvet and are embroidered with flower patterned needlework, are worth a sight. This Arkalik covers up the body until the waist, has a scoop neck, buttons up in the front and loosens down from the waist with pleats. It is derived from the sources that the Arkalik was worn over the koynak by the women in Southern Azerbaijan until recently.

Another outer war, which is worn on the shoulder, is the ?labbadah?. It reaches further down the waist and is open in the front. It has wing-shaped pieces beside it. The sleeves finish at the elbows and they have slits under them.

The sleeveless, short vest worn by the women in winter is called ?kurdu?. Kurdu is made out of dark red velvet and has a padded lining inside it. Rabbit fur lines the collar, sleeves and shirttail. It is winter garment embroidered with silver ribbons. The costumes, which they wear as official garments, are longer outer wear and are cut from the waist and the lower piece is sown to the upper part by a pleat.

The Azeri women wore ?tumans? under their outer garments, which are long, pleated and loose skirts, which reach down all the way to the ankles. They usually wore five or six tumans on top of each other and the tumans, which are in between the tuman and the outer skirt, are called ?middle tumans?. Moreover, women, while going out, wore ?jakshirs? over their skirts, which resembled a trouser leg. Tumans are usually made out of silk. The loose and wide skirt is narrowed at the waist by free pleats and is tied with a tufted waistband.

From the old pictures we can see that the Azerbaijani women liked decorating themselves and made extensive use of jewelry for this purpose. They had some very valuable and precious jewelry. Golden or silver belts are worn on the Arkalik and jabkan. Another type of belt, which is commonly used in Azerbaijan, is a leather one with silver pieces sown on it.

National clothing is complemented by a cap (?bork? in Southern Azerbaijan), various sandals and shoes. Socks, which are knit with woolen or silk threads in various patterns, are worn on feet. The women living in rural villages used to tie ?yashmaks? round their heads and use webbed veils over the eyes.

The way of clothing in Southern Azerbaijan has repeatedly changed throughout the political developments in our contemporary history. In other words the way of clothing in Southern Azerbaijan clearly reflects the social and political changes. The clothing of the Azeri women mentioned above consists of the clothes they wear inside their homes and when they are only together with those they are intimate. However the Azerbaijani women have spent their lives under veils for a very long period of time. The dissolution of the Ghajar Kingdom (the name of a kingdom in Iran) and the establishment of the Pahlavi order brought about a great deal of agitation regarding the dressing style in Southern Azerbaijan. Reza Shah Pahlavi tried to imitate the great leader Ataturk, who had made some serious reforms in the Turkish Republic, and has implemented a so-called clothing revolution called the ?Kashf Hejab?. This so-called forced revolution caused a great change in the style of clothing of the later Southern Azerbaijani generation. The Southern Azerbaijani women instantly got rid of their veils and men began to wear modern clothes. After this incident some of our women had to stay indoors for years. The women of Southern Azerbaijan could now go around without having to cover their heads just like their western counterparts. After the Second World War Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, the son of Reza Shah Pahlavi took over the kingdom. During the time of the pro-Western Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, people were now completely like the westerners. In an era when Southern Azerbaijan was on the verge of being forgotten, those who still wore the traditional outfits meant that they were either reactionary or villagers. With the so-called Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the clothing of especially the women was subject to the reforms. However, this time the color of the revolution was black and the women of Southern Azerbaijan had to cover themselves up in veils once again just like the rest of the Iranian women living in other parts of the country.

Despite all these developments, the women of Southern Azerbaijan has never given up dressing in a classy manner and will always have a taste for clothes.


(Our South Azerbaijan)