Bukhara’s costume of the 16th – 17th centuries in miniatures of Movarounnahr

Issue #4 • 1575

The oriental miniature is a unique source for the study of history of the ancient costume. The miniature gives not just models of the costume, which had lost because of its temporality but, moreover, allows defining of aesthetic taste of the people, their local originality and behavior.

Thanks to this source, the national costumes of Near East, India, Turkey and Central Asia of different historical periods have been successfully studied as well as have been revealed the missing links in costume’s evolution, which could not be defined because of ethnographic data missing.

Particularly this concerns the Bukhara’s costume of the 16th – 17th centuries, which the museums of Uzbekistan and collections of foreign museums seek while the samples of the latest period (the 19th – early 20th cc.) are numerous enough. Another reason of the interest to Bukhara’s costume of the earlier period is that this issue became vital after Uzbekistan obtained Independence and public performances became a tradition. Materials from Bukhara’s miniature painting of the 16th – 17th centuries, in some degree, give the opportunity to reveal social and age features of male and female costume, a form and style of headwear, gives a picture of hairstyles, jewelry, etc. The other sources prove reliability of their pictures (for example, written sources).

In the 16th – 17th centuries, Bukhara had a status of a capital. It was a center of art and crafts, construction works were of a wide scope. Streets and markets were crowded with arrived merchants. In Shaybanid and Ashtarkhanid Bukhara, costume making was a separate field of production, which, according to kazi documents, engaged weavers of denim and silk – bofandagon and shohibofon, dyers – sabogon, tailors – darzioyn, weavers – chalm – futabofon, cap and tuybeteika makers – takiduzon, bootmakers – kafshduzon, jewelers – zargaron, what proves the existence of professional specializations of Bukhara’s artisans. Their products were on sales at specialized markets where each craft occupied a special section. Some of them have still preserved (Taki tilpak-furushon and Taki – zargaron).

Manufactured in Bukhara denim, silk (shai) and semi – silk fabrics (adras, alacha), velvet (bahmal), brocade (zarbafot) and others including cotton print (chit) were produced for domestic needs and for export. Besides the fabrics, Bukhara’s tailors and boot makers were exported too, in particular, to neighboring Russia (4, p. 175-197).

Popular subjects of Bukhara’s miniatures were scenes of palace receptions and feasts on meadows as well as subjects from classic literature. They give pictures of various male and female costumes. By miniature pictures, male and female costumes consisted of similar components slightly varied in cutting style. This is a wide, a tunic – shaped shirt making comfortable in hot weather, long trousers, required by a manner to sit on a quilt – kurpacha covering the floor, and an over robe saving equally from the bright sun and autumn-winter cold. Distinctions between male and female costumes were in different cutting of headwear, different fabrics and in such units of specific costume as was mursak, worn just out, or veil. Male and female costumes consisted of over and under clothes and were daily and gala. In miniatures we usually can see over clothes but under clothes often look out the first ones.

The costumes of feudal aristocrats were branded, first, by grandeur of over robes, by fabrics from which they were sewed, riches of decorative embroidery, different accessories – expensive belts, buttons, aigrette on headwear and weapon. So, in miniatures of the 16th century khan often is drawn in a form fitting over robe – faradji decorated by ornamental embroidery on the back, breast, shoulders and along the hem. Faradji usually had very long sleeves, almost ankle-deep, and if to settle hands in them the sleeves would form numerous folds round the wrist. Probably, to wear such robe in this manner was uncomfortable and more often they flung it over shoulders and freely settled a hand just in one sleeve while another one hung down empty. At forearms faradji had cuts, through which the hands could be settled. In this case sleeves became just a decorative detail. Faradji had a liner sewed from different fabric – “astar”, sometimes a liner was from sobol, fox or squirrel which the miniaturist drew in a correspondent color. Faradji was sewed from the most expensive fabrics – satin and silk.

Another kind of over costume – “kaba” was put on a semmit and was sewed in a form of dress-robe, wraparound from right to left and forming bias collar with long wrist-deep or short elbow – deep sleeves. Kaba could have a front central cut going up to the kaba’s edge and having V neck and buttons. In miniatures, kaba is always drawn belted by kushak or leather belt with gold shields – kamarband to which were fastened richly decorated weapon: sword and dagger, knife as well as a small bag for money.

In the 16th century, a main headwear of a Bukhara’s man was a turban from white thin transparent fabric with gold or silver threads. It rolled over tyubeteika and was worn leaving forehead and ears open. Khan for great occasions put on a crown – tadj in a form of a conic cap with a gold button on the top and gold diadem at its base. As footwear, were used soft black or yellow boots of leather.

In the mid – 16th century, costume of the Bukhara feudal aristocrats became more exquisite, closer – bodied; its length shortened up to mid – calves, more often are used colorful brocade whereas in the first half of the century the costume was primarily monochromic. Having kept up to the mid – 17th century, this fashion began to change under influence of Indian costume towards more decorativeness that was reached not by gold embroidery but in account of various fabrics: with small pattern, plaid or striped. More popular became velvet, which texture the artists interpreted simply: deep blue or black kaba was contoured by a white line and so they reached an effect of velure play. Over robes and kaba after Indian style became closer-bodied in upper part and puffier, forming small pleads at the belt, probably, in account of special cutting. Kaba obtained small, well – rounded or rectangular collars, double stitch going up to the belt in front and a wide border of gold embroidery along the edge. Khan’s kaba as ever was belted by kamarband and aristocrats’ one – by fuga (kushak – waist – belt). In the first half of the 17th century, a turban was puffy and had a bandelet from different colored fabric, probably, brocade.

From the second half of the 17th century, among aristocrats a la mode was a small turban rolled around so that its coils crossing above the forehead left open a quarter of a low conical kulokh decorated in addition by aigrette. The bandelet became extinct. Again, under influence of Indian fashion a turban was styled from colored fabrics: lilac, red and stripped, which by means of coiling formed parti – colored or chequered pattern. Male costume of common people differed by less number of simultaneously worn dresses, by monochromic cheaper fabrics and headwear: they were small colorful turbans – futa for citizens and various felt caps with black flaps as well as caps with fur bands.

Costumes of Bukhara’s women of the 16th – 17th centuries were even more decorative, various and multilayer. Aesthetic and ethic criteria of the female costume were determined by sheriat standards, which required it to be easy and not close-bodied. By words of Alisher Navoi, a body of a woman was as if within “a prison of dresses”. Having their revenge, women used expensive embroidered fabrics of bright colors and decorated themselves with jewelry, making up eyes and brows, blanching and rouging cheeks. The aesthetic ideal was a white, slim and at the same time stacked woman with rounded moon-shaped face, small mouth, almond-shaped eyes and brows joined together in a form of a bow.

Such her portrait was poetized by poets, such image she had in miniatures. Noble dames put on simultaneously several clothes to accent their welfare: white tunic – shaped undershirt with long sleeves, vertical or horizontal neck cut called in written sources “kurta”. Underwear ankle – deep pants – ezor, lozim – were tucked in elegant boots with conical toe caps or set on above scuffs – kafsh, kavush. Above, they put on also tunic – shaped colorful dress – kuilak, pirokhan with long sleeves and horizontal neck (for girls) and deep cut on the breast (for women); vertical stitches were along the back and sides. Above pirokhan, kaba was put with long or short sleeves and central cut. The toilet was finalized by an over robe – djoma saving from bad weather. Like men on holidays women took on silk faradji having fur liner and decorated by gold embroidery (Fig.).

In general, the costume of the 16th century differed by rich embroidery on shoulders, breast and back of over robes of various colors, among which dominated yellow, light blue, blue and lilac. Common women (maids, musicians) wore similar dress but sewed from cheap material without embroidery and less number of items – under shirt – pirokhan, pants and kaba, flaps of which to have comfort in work are tucked under kushak. In the mid – 16th century, appeared another fashion of female overdress for common women – kaltacha of length up to the mid- hip (Fig.).

At the end of the 16th – early 17th centuries, contacts with Sefevid Iran reactivated, what influenced more female than male costume: it became calf – deep, opening stripped pants tapering towards ankles; dresses and kaba were fastened by one big button and had deep vertical cut on the breast. Fabrics had large or small floral ornament as in Sefevid Kazvin and Meshkhed but unlike their costumes, female overdresses had never been belted (Fig.). This fashion little varying in length had kept until the 1640s when Bukhara’s beauties reoriented to India and when appeared knees – deep close – bodied kaba with cordiform cut on the breast, under it were worn transparent under dress with horizontal cut and fastened by big buttons. The costume was sewed from local painted fabrics or exported Indian fabrics with big or small pattern, velvet and from transparent fabrics in cases when underwear in the miniatures as if showed through them.

An original form of female robes was mursak which had a deep cut and flaps set on each other and at the waist sides it has something like frillery formed in account of separately cut and gathered skirt. Such robe, according to ethnographical materials, had been in use up to the 19th century, and now it have turned in burial dress. Munisak was put above kaba.

It should be noted that female adornments, hairstyles and headwear were indicators of an age and status. Little girls and unmarried girls styled plaits and wore tyubeteikas or small caps. Young childless women put on a frontlet – peshonaband in a form of a thin ribbon, which edges were fixed on the nape and fell down on the back. Aristocratic women decorated it with gold pearl – edged diadem. Under the middle – east tradition, princesses, khan’s wives and women from khan’s family wore pearl-edged crown – tadj in a form of semi – spherical cap with a big precious stone on the top. The elder dames having children wore embroidered tyubeteika and above it – a short shawl from transparent white fabric with gold or colorful thread.

Servants knotted such shawl on the nape, and its edges free stretched aside. In a course of time, already in the mid – 16th century, instead of tyubeteika women used high and firm peshonaband from fabric, probably, embroidered. Married women hid their hair in special over-pleat set – kulyuta, sochkap. Old common women wore easy dresses of moderate colors with wide sleeves, and on a head they put on a special shawl – lechek which two edges were knotted under a chin and two others free fell down on the back covering a head and shoulders.

In the 17th century, Bukhara’s ladies wore absolutely extraordinary headwear representing a flat rounded cap pulled low over the forehead, and on the nape a white or colorful shawl from thin transparent fabric that covered shoulders, neck and fell down on the back was fixed onto this cap with an aigrette. The cap probably was some transformation of peshonaband, which was added by a flat top. In miniatures, such cap was exposed white or decorated by precious stones. Little girls had small pointed tyubeteikas, semi-round caps with a fur band and decorated by precious stones or ornament, and young girls had dome-shaped caps saucily pulled low over the forehead and gathered at the top with a big gold button. Along the roll – head circlet, they were decorated by pearls, and on the nape – by aigrette from feathers.

In miniatures, the jewelry pieces are drawn on ladies, musicians, dancers and rarely on common women. At that, in the 16th century, their pictures were minimum in number for, probably, they were hid by clothes. Chiefly, they were earrings, necklaces, pearl pendants supporting headwear of princesses, rings, anklets and bracelets. Specifically Bukharian adornment of the 16th century was a necklace – khaikhal consisted of big gold rosettes supporting a petal-shaped amulet container – tumor encrusted by corals, turquoise and rubies. Analogues of this necklace dated from that period have not been revealed in miniatures of the other regions and until the early 20th century it had been in use in Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara, which are better known as zebigardon or zebinis. In the 17th century, under influence of the Indian style necklaces were worn as multi-strand beads of pearls, corals and turquoise joined in the center by one precious stone enchased in gold. Sometimes, in addition to the necklace they put on a massive gold diadem.

In that period, underarm necklaces – kultik – tumor came into use, which were not revealed in the earlier periods and which had preserved in Bukhara’s costume until the early 20th century. In general, jewelry sets became more various: besides rings, which were put on annular, forefinger and little finger of both hands, we can see pictures of various bracelets: arm bracelets (they were worn above sleeves at the wrist and usually consisted of gold rings fixed together by gold beads); anklets and special bracelets for forearms in a form of a gold ring with a big rectangular stone enchased or sometimes girandole with turquoise, sapphire, pearls or corals. In the 17th century, earrings were of various forms: drop-shaped coming from the previous century, ring-shaped with two gold pendants or pendants in a form of multi-petal flower as well as in a form of vertical core with beaded rubies, pearls and turquoise on. Old servants wore nose rings – bulaki.

In the 17th century, different styles of footwear were in use. It was soft boots – mahsi, half – boots – nimchakmeh, high boots on hills – chakmeh and leather scuffs – kavushi. All these boots were of black, yellow and less often of white colors, at that, bootlegs for noble women were embroidered. Old women continued to wear shoes with narrow toe cap – kavushi, which were put on bare feet unlike the young women who wore kavushi above boots.

Summarizing all said above, it is necessary to note the Bikhara’s costume of the 16th – 17th centuries, according to miniatures, was resulted by synthesis of strict forms of cutting, mathematically precised proportions of clothes, richness of ornamental embroidery that created a view of refined luxury as well as of fabric color and texture, its pattern, and in cases of a female costume – of jewelry.

The miniatures of the 16th – 17th centuries give huge invaluable material for the history of Bukhara’s costume in concrete visible pictures. Interesting is military uniform and equipment, ritual costumes, costumes of clergy (shaykhs and dervishes) as well as separate pieces of the costume and accessories which are well reflected in the miniature painting. Many kinds of costumes, headwear and jewelry of that time have been reviving in our days.

Author: Zukhra Rakhimova

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