April 15, 2021
It is no secret that Iranians are protective of their traditional heritage. Qashqai nomads are no exception. They wear their colorful garb proudly, showing off the many-layered clothing that is a constant mark of an ancient culture in an ever-changing world.
Qashqai women are far from the traditional, stay-at-home type, actively taking part in the same tasks as the men of their families. Their clothing has been designed to offer them freedom of movement in accordance with their many duties.
The arkhalig, reaching from the shoulders to the ankles, fully covers the body. This item of clothing has been slashed at the sides to make moving around easier.
The tunban is a kind of ruffled skirt which has been designed to keep covering the body even when a hard wind threatens to unfold the skirt. Being the most magnificent and beautiful part of a Qashqai woman’s attire, the women sometimes even wear two on top of one another to allow more coverage in addition to multiplying the beauty and grace of their movements.
The charghad, a kind of scarf, is used to cover the women’s hair. Another piece, called dastmal, is used to cover the charghad, to keep the cold weather at bay, and symbolically, to protect the head and the brain, which are the most valuable parts of the body in Qashqai culture.
The clothes of Qashqai men have been subject to change due the political climate of Iran in the 1920s. In an effort to westernize Iran, Reza Shah banned Qashqai men from wearing their traditional clothing. That was until he was forced to resign in 1941.
After Reza Shah’s resignation, Naser Khan Qashqai introduced a new item of clothing, called Kolah Do Gooshi, which was a kind of hat. Do Gooshi later on went on to become a symbol of Qashqai power and individuality in the face of dictatorship.
Not wearing a hat is considered a sign of rudeness in Qashqai Culture, therefore, Qashqai men are required to don a hat at all times. Kolah Do Gooshi, introduced in mid-20th century, is a kind of hat made of soft wool. This item is rather heavy, which keeps it from falling off a person’s head when a sudden wind blows.
Qashqai men also wear arkhalig, but theirs only comes down to the knees, with a shawl fastened mid-waist. This shawl is up to 6 meters long, and usually comes in colors such as white or brown. It helps with alignment of the spine in quick movements, or when heavy-lifting in the event of migration. It is also used as a pocket for keeping money, cigarettes and pipes.
Chogheh is the last item of clothing worn by Qashqai men, which is worn on top of arkhalig. Its purpose is to add to the beauty of Qashqai traditional garb.
One of the nomads of Fars, the Qashqai have preserved their way of life through their traditional clothing for centuries. The women, who actively take part in many duties, wear clothes such as arkhalig, tunban and charghad to offer the coverage and easy movement. The men don hats that are a testemant to their individuality and defiance.