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Menswear in Iran, Qajar dynasty (1789–1925)

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Welcome back to my channel, friend!

I’m Phu, founder of Aventail.

In today’s video, I’ll introduce you to the menswear system in Qajar dynasty (1789–1925), which is the last powerful imperial Iran dynasty before western influence overrun the country.

So, please tighten your seat belt, and enjoy the ride!

  • Brief history about Qajar dynasty in Iran

Qajar (قاجار) is an Iranian dynasty with Turkic origin. It was created when Qajar tribe overthrown the Zand dynasty and Afsharid dynasty, those that ruled over Iran for a short period of time. During Qajar dynasty, Iran regained its position as a powerful empire, re-created the wealth and glamour of the former Safavid dynasty. However, with the Russian and British encroachment, Qajar lost territories and influence over the centuries. Also, modernization process was killed prematurely, lead to poor development in the late 19th century. The Qajar was overthrown by the Pahlavi, another short-lived dynasty, eventually was overthrown themselves by Iran republic.

  • Casual wear

Most of Iran at this time still depended on pastoral economy with a small scaled crafting industry. Their clothes reflected that by having elaborate layering of different elements. Depending on the weather and personal taste, they may wear these items:

zīr-jāma: undergarments, made of silk or cotton, little details are known about this one

jūrāb (جوراب): stocking

čāqšūr (شلوار): trouser. Can be a tapered trouser worn under long rope or long jacket, or wide trouser worn with transparent shirt

ḵaftān: a long tunic, usually worn with belt or sash

pīrāhan (پیراهن): transparent shirt

qabā-ye dāmandār (قبای دامن دار): robes with skirts

arḵāloq (جلیقه): cotton waistcoat

qabā (قبا): three-quarter-length robe

courdy = kordī (کردی): sleeveless jacket robe

cadebi = kātebī (یک نیم تنه با آستین بلند): long-sleeved jacket robe

  • Formal wear and court dress

In courtly dress robes were primarily of plain or brocaded silk or cotton. They were in bright colors, and gold embroidery was also used for scalloped collars and as decoration around the neck or front opening. Coats with gold braid across the chest and buttons covered in gold or silver thread were also worn. Robes and coats could be quilted or lined with contrasting materials for both warmth and beauty. Fur-lined outer robes and sheepskin mantles were worn in winter. Robes can also be used as gifts to foreign royalties. Some notable robe types:

ḵaḷʿat (خلعت): robe of honor

čahār ḏaṛʿīs: robes 6 foot long

Jobba: silk and brocaded wool rope with long wide rolled-up sleeves and a front opening

Frock coat based on Turkish models with pleats at the waist and wider sleeves.

In later years, western clothes were adopted into court dress, while traditional dress remained popular in the civilian wear.

  • Footwear

Upper class men had legs covered in long stockings, which rose above the knee, and were fastened with cord. Peasants wore strips of cloth wound around the lower legs. Footgear consisted of pointed, flat-soled shoes, clogs, or short boots or riding boots. These boots were probably made of shagreen dyed red or green.

Gīva (گیوه‎): a casual footwear, mainly consisting of an upper part made of twined white cotton thread sewn up on the edges of a cloth and leather or rubber sole

  • Headwear

As other hierarchical societies, headwear in Qajar dynasty indicated not only gender but also religious and political allegiance. Turbans and caps are available in a wide variety of styles and materials, but the system to classify them is not yet understood. The headwear of the shah or king indicated dynastic change from one shah to another.

Kolāh (كلاه): a mandatory Qajar court hat, which is a tall black astrakhan cap angled at the top and covered along the angle with striped fabric

  • Headdress and grooming

In early years, men hair style was shaved head, though younger men retained a ponytail and light side-whiskers. In later years, short hair became popular following western style. About facial hair, older men had well-trimmed moustaches and beards. Upper class men cultivated lush beards and moustaches painstakingly dyed black.

  • Accessories and jewelry

Ropes had tassels of pearls. Armbands, collars, and hems were encrusted with gems. Even cushions and carpets were decorated in this fashion. Carpets were a major Qajar exports in later years.

Aigrettes with gold chains and plumes were attached to turbans, and flowers could be tucked into their folds as well. Jeweled armbands(bāzū-band) and belts were worn. Penboxes, daggers, swords, kerchiefs, bags, seals, and rings were attached to the belts.

  • Clothes material

The Qajar produce domestically fine cotton, silk, velvet, wool. Silks were weaved into polychrome design, with birds, flowers, lions, tigers, horses, and human figures decoration. Kashmir silk brocades were famous with flowers decoration, sometime old dresses were cut just to reuse old brocades. Kermān wool was a locally produced fabric, usually added to high end robes. The ropes increased in value and were treated as a currency.

I hope through this video, you can have an overview of menswear in Iranian Qajar dynasty. I’m making this video not as an insider but an outsider trying to understand, If I have incorrect information, feel free to comment down below.

On an unrelated topic, can you see this beautiful belt?

Aventail belt is a holeless size adjustable belt made of full grain vegetable tanned leather. You can watch the belt introduction video link in the description. The belt is available in dozens of colors, link in the description.

Have a nice day and see you in the next video!

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