Author: Tereza Hejzlarová, Olga Viktorovna Starostina
Address: Tereza Hejzlarová, Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of Arts, Palacký University Olomouc, Třída Svobody 26, 779 00 Olomouc, Czech Republic
Olga Viktorovna Starostina, Department of Ethnography of the Peoples of the Caucasus, Central Asia and Kazakhstan, Russian Museum of Ethnography, Inzhenernaya 4/1, 191011 St. Petersburg, Russia
Page Range: 17–40
No. of Pages: 24
Keywords: women’s veiling, Central Asia, clothing, coat, headdress, veil, headscarf, wedding ceremony
Abstract: The study presents an analysis of traditional forms of clothing serving for women’s veiling in Central Asia in the period from the second half of the 19th century to the 20th century, focusing on its occurrence and importance in both everyday and ceremonial practices. The study addresses particular types of veiling, their common features, and differences related to the manner of wearing, as well as the materials and the decorative designs used. An important part of the study is a catalogue representing individual types of clothing from the above determined period from the museum collections of the Russian Museum of Ethnography in St. Petersburg and the National Museum – the Náprstek Museum in Prague.
This study was supported from European Regional Development Fund-Project „Sinophone Borderlands – Interaction at the Edges“ CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000791.
Celý příspěvek / Full Text Paper: PDF
Ethnography-related literature addressing women’s clothing of Central Asia, wedding ceremonies, and everyday traditions frequently concern various aspects of women’s veiling and certain items of clothing covering individual parts of their bodies. There has been no expert study, however, analysing traditional forms of this type of clothing in relation to both ceremonial and the everyday practices.
In present-day European, Russian, and Central-Asian scientific publications, there are practically no studies addressing the specifics of the existence of various material artifacts in the traditional culture of Central-Asian peoples in relation to women’s veiling. The majority of works available in the scientific discourse are written from the perspective of philosophy, culturology, or religion. They disregard both the abundance of objects and photographs in museum collections, and archive materials including expedition reports and historical inventory.
The present treatise, which is far from being a comprehensive one, is based on the analysis of collections of two prominent ethnographic museums in Europe: the Russian Museum of Ethnography (about 100,000 objects and photographs from Central Asia), and the National Museum – the Náprstek Museum (about 400 objects and photographs), as well as numerous sources related to the topic that are available on the internet. While investigating the topic, an important aspect is also scientific research of the late 19th century and the 20th century focusing on Central-Asian clothing, specifics of social relationships, women’s culture, traditional beliefs, etiquette and ethical standards adopted in the traditional society, as well as Islamic traditions embedded in daily life and ritual practices.
The authors of this study aimed to define the individual types of clothing used for veiling and the manner in which this clothing was worn, as well as to identify common typical features and differences among the individual peoples of Central Asia.
In her study Traditional and Modern Women’s Clothing of the Tajikistan Mountains (Traditsionnaya i sovremennaya odezhda zhenshchin gornogo Tadzhikistana), Z. A. Shirokova presented a classification of clothing worn over the head which may be, with some reservations and additions, applied to a similar type of clothing that was used in Central Asia among the Uzbeks, the Kyrgyz, the Kazakhs, the Karakalpaks, the Turkmens and the Tajiks. This classification allows for making a distinction between the individual types of clothing based on their form, but also for determining the specifics of the particular type of clothing with regard to the manner in which it was worn, its occurrence and the importance derived from a particular tradition. This study does not analyse the emergence and development of this type of clothing; this issue having been investigated in detail by O. A. Sukhareva.
The particular type of clothing may be divided into four groups. The first group involves large headscarves that cover either the woman’s entire body or only her face or part of it, such as those worn at wedding ceremonies by the Mountain Tajiks, the Turkmen, and some groups of nomadic Uzbeks and Kazakhs. The second group consists of veils covering the face that were part of wedding dresses of some groups of the Mountain Tajiks, the Turkmen Yomuts, the southern Kyrgyzs and the Uyghurs. The third group involves coats worn on the head used especially by women in the settled rural environment of Central Asia; they also served as everyday clothing for men and children. Much less common are cases of women’s coats of a specific fit, such as munisak (kaltacha). The fourth group involves a special type of coat worn on the head with numerous specific features unique for this type of clothing. These coats were used exclusively by women and their distinctive feature are narrow false sleeves that are tied together. Such coats were regarded as a common part of a woman’s appearance in Mountain Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. This group also incorporates a long coat called paranja typical especially for women living in urban areas of Central Asia (the Uzbeks, the Tajiks and the Jews). It needs to be noted that this treatise does not focus on all parts of clothing.
A large headscarf is one of the most universal items of clothing used for veiling in order to hide a woman from sight. Used without any exception by all Central-Asian peoples, it is a square or rectangular piece of cloth. The manner of its wearing and utilization as part of everyday or ceremonial clothes depends on the traditions of a particular ethnographic, territorial and local group.
In the traditional culture of the Kazakhs and the Kyrgyzs, it was not usual to cover a woman’s face and body (with the exception of southern Kyrgyzstan). It wass common that a young woman avoided her husband’s relatives, in contrast to settled peoples; in their traditional culture, young women covered themselves with headscarfs and various coats. Wedding rituals of Central-Asian nations, however, required the veiling of the bride in the period after entering into marriage, when leaving for the husband’s home, and in the first days in her new home. The bride was veiled until the ceremony of “face uncovering”. Up until then, the Kyrgyz and Kazakh newly married women were veiled with a large white cotton headscarf that was placed over the headdress and covered their body down to their knees.
The special status of brides and newly married women within the Tajik culture as well as among settled Uzbeks was also manifested in other details. As with the Kazakhs and the Kyrgyzs, they wore large white scarves over their heads. These were made from silk or muslin and covered their face, chest, shoulders and back. The young women took off these scarves after the wedding night in the husband’s house. Within wedding ceremonies, the white colour was considered the colour of good luck; for this reason, the clothes of both the bride and the groom had to contain white fabric. Paranjas were not worn to wedding ceremonies, with some rare exceptions, in all probability because they were considered casual clothes that did not have any deeper roots in the history of traditional clothing.
A similar utilization of a large white headscarf was recorded in the period from the second half of the 19th century to the 20th century among the Mountain Tajiks in Kulyab and Karategin, where the clothes worn on the head, such as paranjas, did not appear at all.
In many areas of Central Asia, a headscarf was used within wedding ceremonies as a veil to cover the face. It was accompanied by a specific headdress, a paranja, or another type of coat worn over the head. Tajik women from Kulyab and the Mascho and Hissar basins always wore, for example, a white silk headscarf under their coat called chodar– the headscarf was diagonally folded and worn in such a way that the front part covered the woman’s face and neck. Turkmen and Karakalpak women used scarves to cover only the lower part of their faces, and these were combined with coats called chyrpy (zhegde) worn on the head.
Women from rural areas of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan wore headscarves not only at wedding ceremonies, but even in daily life in order to hide their faces from strangers (especially men).
Every inhabitant of the husband’s village or guzar (the neighbourhood) was also considered a stranger by the newly married woman. The woman was gradually introduced to other people at family and local celebrations and eventually stopped veiling her face in their presence. Girls and women of childbearing potential covered their faces when meeting inhabitants from other villages, travellers and particularly people of a different religion. They turned their back or their side towards such people and covered their faces with the edge of the scarf.
Young married women of the Turkmen Ersari, Nokhurli, Murchali, and Teke tribes wore a scarf called gynach, a triangular scarf sewn from several stripes of wine-red locally manufactured silk with two of its edges decorated with a wide knitted ribbon with a diamond and triangular pattern in white, yellow, and green interconnected with white and yellow stripes. The edges were frequently decorated with fringes made from black, wine-red or green silk. This type of headscarf was worn over borik or takya caps. On some headscarves, the right tip called yashmak was slightly frilled and rounded. In such cases, the right tip was pulled over the face from right to left – from the nape to the left ear, where it was tucked or pinned to a headdress with a special pin. In this way, the woman’s mouth and neck were veiled. In some cases, women could hold the tip of the scarf in her teeth.
Women also carefully veiled their chest, neck, and often even chin – an item of clothing serving this purpose was called lachak. This part of the headdress was worn by some Tajik and Kyrgyz women, as well as by nomadic and Khorezm Uzbek women. Lachak was a small scarf, usually white, that was diagonally folded and tied at the top of the head in order to fit tightly to the face and cover the chest. Instead of lachak, married Kazakh and Karakalpak women wore a special headdress called kimeshek, similar to a hood.
As stated above, the tradition of veiling the face of a bride and a newly married woman is universal for most inhabitants of Central Asia; the reason is the common belief in the sacral vulnerability of women in certain stages of their lives.
The veils completely covered the face, the neck and the upper part of the chest. This type of veil was part of the wedding dress of some groups of the Mountain Tajiks, the Uzbeks, the Kyrgyzs and the Uyghurs. There are also typical ways of the ceremonial utilization of these veils: a newly married woman took the veil for the first time in the house of her parents after the Muslim wedding ceremony nikah immediately preceding her departure for the husband’s home. Her face was veiled throughout this time. People in the Samarkand region, apart from covering the bride’s face, also used suzane embroideries that either veiled the bride, or were carried over her head. Suzane for the wedding purpose was created by the bride’s family with the embroidery serving as an amulet to protect the bride from the evil powers and from the evil eye. The new wife even had her veil on during the wedding feast in the husband’s house (with the exception of the wedding night) and until the ceremony of “face uncovering”. This ceremony occurred amongst all the nations of Central Asia with only subtle differences. In the morning following the wedding night, when the woman’s virginity had been proven, the relatives and the most respectable women from the village, aul, or town district gathered in the husband’s house. The wife was brought to them with her face veiled. In the Kyrgyz and Kazakh cultures, the right of uncovering the face and seeing the young woman’s face for the first time belonged to the most respectable woman, a mother of many children. In the Tajik and Uzbek cultures, it was usually a boy related to the bride’s mother-in-law. This magical process provided the woman with fertility; according to traditional beliefs of inhabitants of Central Asia, fertility was considered necessary for the happiness and prosperity of the family. The woman was subsequently visited by guests who were allowed to uncover the veil for a moment and look into her face. The woman was given presents representing a payment for “face uncovering”. Following this ceremony, the veil was taken off, and among settled inhabitants it was not used any longer. It was preserved as family heritage for the next generation of brides, which is indicated by the evidence of frequent home repairs apparent on veils in the collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography, as well as by accounts of local inhabitants gathered within scientific expeditions.
Kyrgyz and Uyghur women of childbearing potential also took on the veil during the migration to spring pastures, which was perceived to be an event of similar meaning as the wedding, and within the ceremonies of a nomadic year cycle it represented the notion of marriage to nature.
Decorated veils did not appear in all areas of Central Asia. In Tajikistan, the face-veil part of the bride’s wedding clothing was called ruband, but that was limited to Darvaz and Garm. According to K. I. Antipina, the veil called bet kalka, which belonged to the clothing of southern Kyrgyzs, was adopted from the Mountain Tajiks. The authors of this study believe, however, that notwithstanding the similarity in form, semantics of the embroidery, and the form of utilization, bet kalka could not have been adopted directly from Mountain Tajik people, because the area where rubands were used is separated from southern Kyrgyzstan with four mountain ridges and valleys where such veils were not used. This element of woman’s clothing may also be found among Uyghur women in Kashgar and in the Fergana Valley.
The central motif of the embroidery on the veils is a tree and birds; these are depicted with a various degree of stylization. Rubands worn by the Mountain Tajiks are the most typical ones: their composition of the central field contains a tree with two birds (cocks or peacocks) on the sides. The Kyrgyz veils are decorated with a geometric pattern depicting a swastika – a symbol that some researchers attribute not only to the sun, but also to a bird. The tree is a complex polysemic motif. On the one hand, it may be interpreted as a model of the world where the treetop represents the sky and the Upper World, the stem represents the earth, and the roots represent the Underworld, the land of the dead. On the other hand, this motif symbolized an ancient deity – the Mother Goddess – the originator of all living things, who represented fertility and wielded the realm of the dead and the element of water. The motif of the bird, according to traditional beliefs of Central-Asian nations, correlated the solar symbolism and was a powerful amulet, in addition to bringing good luck and wealth to the house of the young couple.
Some common features are also shared by the peshkurpe veil that was part of the wedding dress of the Turkmen Yomuts. It was worn by a newly married woman when leaving for the husband’s house and also served for the “face uncovering” ceremony. The embroidery on the veil represents a tree with long curved branches that the Turkmens related to the cult of the Goddess of Fertility – the patroness of women. In contrast, there are differences in the manner of wearing the veil and its colour and form. Unlike other veils, peshkurpe was made from red silk in the shape of a trapezoid, and was worn in such a way that it covered the young woman’s mouth, neck and chest.
Numerous travellers and researchers have reported that settled inhabitants of Central Asia often used various types of coats as headdresses. Mr. and Mrs. Nalivkin, who lived in the area for several decades and studied the customs and lifestyle of local people, stated the following: “It is common in many places that women from the rural environment do not wear their own coats on their heads; instead, they take a coat of one of their children, and always place it with the inside of the armhole on the top of their head.”
Young woman, who still did not have any children, could wear her husband’s coat or her own.
Coats worn on the head included for instance yagtak worn by the Uzbek Karluk women in the west of the Kashkadarya region in Uzbekistan and in southern Tajikistan, or sargirak worn by Tajik women belonging to certain groups from the Kashkadarya region. There were also coats that were worn on heads by some groups while in others they served their original purpose. This type includes for instance jeylak, which was worn on the head by the Uzbek Kungrat women.
For Turkmen women, such a type of coat was called kurte; on some occasions they wore it in a common way while on others they put it on their heads. This coat was most widely used among the Turkmen Teke women who decorated it with complex embroidery on the chest, sleeves, and along the edges. The chest embroidery consisted of the motif of a stylized branch with flowers and leaves in a diamond shape. The sleeves were decorated with zoomorphic motifs, most often with ram horns – these were attributed a strong protective function. The edges of the coat were lined with the motif of a polygonal chain with three-leaf clover and flower buds. Kurte coats were most frequently made from red (kyzyl kurte) or green (yashyl kurte) silk fabric. Along with Teke women, it was also worn on the head by women of the Turkmen Goklen, Salor and Nokhurli tribes. Women wore them when leaving the house or even at home in the presence of strange men.
Among Uzbek and Tajik women, an especially widely used type of coat was munisak (mursak, kaltacha), typically with its slightly frilled fabric under the sleeves, inserted gussets on the sides to widen the coat, a lining, and the hems decorated with a knitted ribbon. It was typically made from expensive silk fabrics or from brightly coloured velvet. Munisak was the main component of women’s outerwear from the 1870s to 1890s, when it was also used for wedding ceremonies. The dowry could include two to ten, in wealthy families even eighteen, munisaks from expensive as well as less expensive fabrics. This coat also served as a gift for the bride from the husband’s parents. In central Tajikistan, the Oasis of Bukhara, Penjikent, and the Samarkand region it was common that when a girl turned twelve, she was dressed in a festive coat munisak (kaltacha) for the first time. This feast took place in order to celebrate the first “muljar” – the end of the first twelve-year cycle. For the girl, this meant a transition to the next age category, so she could get married. In the Samarkand region, there was a distinctive feast called “kaltachapushon” that was also related to the transition of a girl into the next age category; its name referred to the above-described coat. In the 1920s, munisak was only infrequently used for wedding ceremonies, and was gradually replaced with other types of coats. It later entirely lost its original function and its utilization was preserved only in funerary rituals where it was used to cover the bodies of the dead. Munisak for young women was made from the most expensive and brightly coloured fabrics, mostly from brocade, silk or velvet. In the 19th century in Tashkent and Samarkand, young women wore it on their heads for several years following their wedding not only when leaving the house but even at home, because a woman’s face could not be seen by the father-in-law and brothers-in-law until her first child was born.
Very narrow sleeves that were usually decoratively tied together and placed on the back were the distinctive feature of this group of coats. Sleeves of such coats had lost their original function and served only as a decorative element. This type of coat was labelled with various names and was used by women belonging to certain groups of the Uzbeks, the Tajiks, the Turkmens and the Karakalpaks.
Chyrpy (purenjek, elek) was sewn by Turkmen women from home-made silk fabrics. Young women wore chyrpy from dark-green silk, older women from yellow silk and old women from white silk. The surface of the entire coat was decorated with embroidery. A richly decorated chyrpy was worn by brides and young women as festive clothing. Coats for daily utilization were less decorated. The decorations depicted various floral motifs; an exceptional type with regard to the motif as well as composition was the Teke chyrpy embroidery. The ornament depicted a sprout surrounded with a number of palmettes. Its structure and importance were similar to that of the ornament decorating the veils of the Turkmen Teke, described in greater detail above.
The Turkmen Nokhurli called this type of coat elek. Its fit was similar to the Teke chyrpy, but it was made from red silk fabric with white and black stripes. Instead of embroidery, the front part of elek was decorated with silver plates of various shapes, usually sewn to the black fabric. The sleeves were very long, their edges were decorated with fringes, and they were tied together with a chain made from coins. Apart from elek, the Nokhurli also wore purenjek, which differed with its very simple or no embroidery and a ribbon on the hems of the coat.
Purenjek was part of the ritual headdress of the Turkmen Yomut women. It was made from green silk without lining, and also had very long narrow sleeves tied together in the back with a chain. A wide long collar was always decorated with embroidery with the motif of a branch with stylized leaves and flowers. The purenjek or the Turkmen Saryk women was of the same style, but was primarily made from red and green velvet. It was not decorated with embroidery, but instead with silver decorations with carnelians sewn onto the collar. Similarly to the Yomut women, the Saryk women also wore purenjek on festive occasions following their wedding until the birth of their first child.
The Uzbeks from the northern Khorezm and the Karakalpaks called this type of coat zhegde. Among the Karakalpaks, zhegde was worn by women from the age of fifteen until the end of their life. There are two main types of zhegde – one for young women, the other for old ones. The coat for young women was made from colourful fabric, most frequently wine-red fabric (kyzyl zhegde); its collar was always made from red and black fabric decorated with embroidery with tambour and buttonhole stitch. For old women, the coat was made from white fabric (ak zhegde) and the embroidery was made with cross stitch. Apart from the above described two main types, there were also other types of zhegde distinguished according to the colour of the fabric and the quality of manufacturing. Zhegde was sewn and embroidered by the bride with the help from the wives of her older brothers for both herself and her husband’s mother. In the late 1920s, this coat was worn as ceremonial and festive clothing. It was gradually replaced in daily use with a large headscarf tied around the turban; by the middle of the 20th century, zhegde was entirely replaced with it. These coats were preserved, however, in almost every house as a family heirloom and were also part of the dowry.
Casual clothing of the Uzbek and Tajik women from urban areas paranja was worn together with a dense rectangular net called chachvan made from black horsehair, which covered the woman’s face. Wearing paranja and chachvan complied with the norms of Islam, which required the woman’s body and face to be veiled. Paranja was originally made from blue or grey cotton fabric, but at the end of the 19th century, rich families also had their coats made from local as well as imported silk and satin with Chinese patterns, imported from Kashgar. In some cases, paranja could also be decorated with embroidery. A girl was given her first paranja at the age of nine. When married, she was given one or two, in wealthier families up to four paranjas from expensive fabric. Dressing, undressing, and wearing the coat was subject to strict rules. When leaving her house, a woman covered her face with chachvan when walking through the gate. This custom was rooted in the people’s negative relationship to the black colour which was believed to bring bad luck. This phenomenon has also been recorded as part of the wedding ceremony, where the bride wearing her paranja had her face covered with white fabric instead of the black chachvan when taken to her husband’s house, since the white colour was believed to bring good luck. When a woman visited someone else’s house, she took off her chachvan, while her paranja was taken off by her female host. When leaving the host’s house, she was dressed in her coat by the host family. In Tashkent at the beginning of the 20th century, this item of clothing was also part of the funerary equipment of dead women.
The manner of wearing paranja varied considerably. Female inhabitants of Tashkent wore it high on top of their heads, while Namangan women pulled it on their forehead. Some women from urban areas tied the edges tight with silk ribbons sewn onto the lower part of the collar, or fastened them with buckles. Paranja, usually of inconspicuous colours, blurring the women’s age characteristics that are of high importance for traditional society, was not part of the ancient traditional women’s clothing. Bright velvet and silk coats, reflecting the owner’s age and social status, began to emerge to a greater extent as late as the early 20th century. In addition, it is important to remark that paranja was not a common item of daily clothing for women from rural areas. For instance, in Tajikistan, it was worn in Hissar, Karatag, and the administrative centres Kulyab, Karategin, and Darvaz, because these areas were inhabited by wives of Bukharan officers. In contrast, it could sometimes be part of the wedding dress: for instance, in the area of the upper Zeravshan River, paranja was worn as part of wedding ceremonies.
It also has to be added that paranja did not occur only among Muslim inhabitants of Central Asia, but also among the Bukharan Jews, even though neither their religion, nor the traditions of ancient Jewish clothing required Jewish women to cover their face and body in the presence of strangers. Paranja was part of outdoor clothes within the Muslim community and enabled the maximum possible blurring of a woman’s appearance; this also applied to Jewish women who lived permanently among worshipers of the Islam.
Women living in the villages of central Tajikistan (Hissar, Karatag, and Dushanbe) wore their traditional coats on their heads when staying within their own village, but when travelling farther or when visiting a town, they always preferred wearing a paranja. This was in all probability for the reason that the common daily coat was perceived as part of the local clothing, not appropriate for the town-related traditions that required the woman’s entire body to be veiled. The common coats worn on the head were about one metre long, so they only covered the body down to the upper part of the thighs. A characteristic feature of such coats was that the woman’s face was never entirely covered. Women commonly held the edges of the coat with their hands so as to cover the lower part of their faces, while the eyes were never covered. In Karategin, Kulyab and Darvaz, these coats were also considered an integral part of women’s casual clothing.
A custom of Tajiks from the Mascho District was that before the bride left her home, an older respectable woman dressed her in a chodar, a long coat with false sleeves analogical to paranja. Every village had its own preferences related to the colour and decorations for this part of the wedding dress, but the semantic meaning of motifs (peacocks, flowers, plant sprouts) was the same – the embroidered motifs were believed to bring the young family good luck. Women always wore a big white silk headscarf under chodar. It was folded diagonally in such a way that the front part veiled the face and the neck. Chodar was not part of the property of every family, so it was passed from one family to another where necessary. If a girl lived in another village, the coat was brought to her by the family of her future husband from their own village. This symbolized the young woman’s affiliation to a certain kinship group. There are two major differences between paranja and other coats worn on the head. While paranja was intended to veil the woman completely, both her face and her body, the coats covered the back and sides of her body but her face and the front of her body were not covered entirely. A very popular custom was wearing the coat in such a way so that details of the clothing were visible (the headdress, the dress, and the outerwear). This enabled the identification of the woman’s age, which was very important for the local traditional culture. Other important factors were the colour of the coat and the material from which it was made. In contrast, paranja almost entirely eliminated all indicators of age, and since it was originally made especially from blue or grey cotton fabric, the townswomen were completely depersonalized.
The analysis of traditional forms of the particular type of clothing in relation to ceremonial and everyday practices demonstrates that women’s veiling was manifested to the greatest extent within wedding ceremonies, where headscarves and veils were most widely used, as well as coats with false sleeves and less commonly even normal coats. A specific type of clothing is paranja, which was used for wedding ceremonies only infrequently; it served rather as an item of outdoor clothes of women in the urban environment. In daily life, women used especially headscarves and normal coats for veiling. The coats gradually became a rather festive and ceremonial type of clothing. Apart from wedding ceremonies, they were also used for funerary ceremonies – they were worn in the period of mourning, or were used to cover the body of the dead woman; this applies to munisak, which almost disappeared from wedding ceremonies at the beginning of the 20th century and was used as funerary clothes. Coats with false sleeves also gradually became primarily festive and ceremonial clothes. An example may be the Karakalpak coat zhegde, which had been replaced in the middle of the 20th century in everyday utilization by a large headscarf tied around the turban.
We agree with O. A. Sukhareva, who assumes that the tradition of women’s veiling, which is typical for many peoples of Central Asia, is related to the ancient custom of protecting women in certain stages of their lives when they might be harmed by evil powers. As already mentioned, women’s veiling was most remarkably manifested within wedding ceremonies. The wedding ceremony belongs to rites of passage, the same as ceremonies related to birth and death. Within it, a woman’s departure from her parents’ home is considered a symbolic death and the arrival to the family of her husband symbolizes the birth of a new family member. Over the course of the entire period from entering marriage to the wedding night (in case of some nations even until the birth of the child), the young woman finds herself in an undefined stage – already dead and not born yet. In accordance with this state, her connection to the realm of spirits (the dead) is significantly strengthened. In addition, she also loses the sacral protection from her family, and has not yet acquired the protection from her husband’s family. For this reason, the woman needs special protection in the form of a great number of jewels and amulets, and both her face and her body need to be hidden from the outer world, where she is particularly vulnerable and prone to the evil eye and various demonic beings.
Veiling of women in Central Asia was also a social phenomenon connected to the practice of the bride avoiding her husband’s male relatives, and it reflected the woman’s status within the family. The religious reasons resulting from the influence of Islam probably gained influence later, and gave rise to clothes such as paranja.
When analysing the specifics of veiling items of clothing related to the woman’s age, it is possible to identify the following aspects: Such clothing started to be used at an earlier age in the case of women from Central-Asian urban areas, the Uzbek women, and the Tajik women. As stated above, a girl wore her first paranja at the time of her sexual maturation – i.e. the time when she entered the age group of brides, which corresponded to the Islamic ethical standards and the Shariah law widely spread among the urban inhabitants. In contrast, settled rural populations and nomads, who were undoubtedly also Muslims, primarily followed adat – standards of customary law and ethics. In these cultural traditions, women’s veiling started with wedding ceremonies and lasted for all of the woman’s childbearing age until her transition to the age category of old women.
Fig. 1. Woman with a mealing stone (demonstrates how to wear a scarf covering the body to the waist). Tajiks, 1901, Syr Darya Region. Inv. No. 11-14, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 2. Townswomen in paranjas. Uzbeks, Tajiks, 1901, Emirate of Bukhara. Inv. No. 48-343, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 3. Married woman, Turkmens, 1900-1901, Trans-Caspian Region. Inv. No. 40-45, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 4. Woman with a coat with false sleeves. Turkmens, 1900-1901, Trans-Caspian Region. Inv. No. 40-42, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 5. Paranja coat. Uzbeks, early 20th century, Tashkent. Silk, satin, silk embroidery, l. 147 cm, w. 202 cm. Inv. No. 12850-3, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 6. Headscarf. Uzbeks, last third of the 19th century, Bukhara. Silk, l. 135 cm, w. 188 cm. Inv. No. 20-151, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 7. Veil. Kyrgyzs, late 19th century – early 20th century, Southern Kyrgyzstan. Cotton, silk, gold embroidery, l. 41 cm, w. 36.5 cm. Inv. No. 13098-3, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 8. Veil. Turkmens, late 19th century, Trans-Caspian Region. Silk, silk embroidery, l. 134 cm, w. 108 cm. Inv. No. 8762-22579, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 9. Children‘s coat. Tajiks, late 19th century, Samarkand. Semi-silk and cotton fabric, l. 58 cm, back w. 36 cm. Inv. No. 58-9, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 10. Kaltacha coat, Tajiks, late 19th century, Emirate of Bukhara. Semi-silk fabric, l. 129 cm, back w. 45. Inv. No. 59-3, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 11. Kimeshek headdress, Karakalpaks, 1910s, Amu Darya Delta. Broadcloth, silk, silk embroidery, Inv. No. 7128-87, Russian Museum of Ethnography.
Fig. 12. Ruband wedding veil. Tajiks, Darvaz. Late 19th century. Cotton, silk embroidery, satin stitch, 71 x 56 cm. Inv. No. А 18 379, National Museum – Náprstek Museum.
Fig. 13. Munisak coat. Uzbeks, Samarkand. Late 19th – early 20th century. Silk brocade, silk ikat lining, l. 132 cm. Inv. No. A 18 432, National Museum – Náprstek Museum.
Fig. 14. Chyrpy coat, Teke Turkmens, 1840s. Cotton, silk embroidery, l. 110 cm. Inv. No. A31638, National Museum – Náprstek Museum.
Fig. 15. Paranja coat. Uzbekistan. Early 20th century. Silk, cotton lining, machine silk embroidery, tambour stitch, l. 139 cm, w. 44 cm. Inv. No. 22 744, National Museum – Náprstek Museum.
 SHIROKOVA, Zinaida Aleksandrovna, Traditsionnaya i sovremennaya odezhda zhenshchin gornogo Tadzhikistana, Dushanbe, Donish 1976, p. 84.
 SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: Opyt analiza pokroev traditsionnoy «tunikoobraznoy» sredneaziatskoy odezhdy v plane ikh istorii i evolyutsii. Sukhareva, O. A. (otv. red.) Kostyum narodov Sredney Azii: istoriko-etnografitcheskie otcherki. Moskva, Nauka 1979, p. 77-102.
 KISLYAKOV, Nikolay Andreevitch: Otcherki po istorii sem’i i braka u narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana. Leningrad: Nauka, 1969, p. 113, 120.
 SHIROKOVA, Zinaida Aleksandrovna: Traditsionnaya i sovremennaya odezhda zhenshchin gornogo Tadzhikistana, Dushanbe, Donish 1976, p. 128.
 For more detailed information on paranja, see Group Four.
 SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: Istoriya sredneaziatskogo kostyuma: Samarkand (2ya polovina XIX – natchalo XX v.). Moskva, Nauka 1982, p. 50.
 SHIROKOVA, Zinaida Aleksandrovna: Traditsionnaya i sovremennaya odezhda zhenshchin gornogo Tadzhikistana, p. 133.
 For more detailed information on the chodar coat, see Group Four.
 For more detailed information on the chyrpy and zhegde coats, see Group Four.
 KISLYAKOV, Nikolay Andreevitch: Otcherki po istorii sem’i i braka u narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana, p. 124, 134.
 SHIROKOVA, Zinaida Aleksandrovna: Traditsionnaya i sovremennaya odezhda zhenshchin gornogo Tadzhikistana, p. 81.
 LYUSHKEVITCH, Fanya Davidovna: Odezhda tadzhikskogo naseleniya Bukharskogo oazisa v pervoy polovine XX v. Sbornik Muzeya antropologii i etnografii. T. 34, Leningrad 1978, p. 138.
 The term suzane (suzani) is also used in a wider sense as an umbrella term for embroidered fabrics used within the household of settled inhabitants. As dowry fabrics for the needs of a particular family, they were embroidered by Uzbek and Tajik women in towns and bigger villages. The term of the entire group of embroidery, suzane is derived from the Persian word súzán meaning a needle.
 SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: K istorii razvitiya samarkandskoy dekorativnoy vyshivki. Literatura i iskusstvo Uzbekistana. Kn. 6. Tashkent, 1937, p. 119-134.
 ANTIPINA, Klavdiya Ivanovna: Osobennosti material’noy kul’tury i prikladnogo iskusstva yuzhnykh kirgizov. Frunze, Izd-vo AN Kirg. SSR 1962, p. 256.
 BOBRINSKIY, Aleksey Aleksandrovitch: O nekotorykh simvolitcheskikh znakakh obshchikh pervobytnoy ornamentike vsekh narodov Evropy i Azii. Moskva, T-vo tip. A. I. Mamontova 1902, p. 9.
 KISLYAKOV, Nikolay Andreevitch: Materialy po drevnim verovaniyam gornykh tadzhikov. Strany i narody. Vyp. XXVI., Kn. 3. Moskva, Nauka 1989, p. 256.
 MOROZOVA, Anna Stepanovna: Golovnye ubory turkmen (po kollektsiyam GME). Tr. In-ta istorii, arkheologii i etnografii Turkmenskoy SSR. T. VII. Moskva, 1963, p. 112.
 NALIVKIN, Vladimir Petrovitch – Nalivkina, Mariya Vladimirovna: Otcherk byta zhenshchiny tuzemnogo naseleniya Fergany. Kazan‘: Tipografiya Imperatorskogo universiteta 1886, p. 96.
 LOBATCHEVA, Nina Petrovna: K istorii sredneaziatskogo kostyuma (zhenskie golovnye nakidki-khalaty). Sovetskaya etnografiya, № 6, 1965, p. 36–38.
 VASIL’EVA, Galina Petrovna: Turkmeny – nokhurli. In TOLSTOV, S. P., ZHDANKO, T. A. (otv. red.) Sredneaziatskiy etnografitcheskiy sbornik, t. XXI. Moskva, Nauka 1954, p. 161., MOROZOVA, Anna Stepanovna: Traditsionnaya narodnaya odezhda turkmen. In LOBATCHEVA, N. P., SAZONOVA, M. V. (otv. red.) Traditsionnaya odezhda narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana. Moskva, Nauka 1989, p. 66.
 LYUSHKEVITCH, Fanya Davidovna: Odezhda tadzhikskogo naseleniya Bukharskogo oazisa v pervoy
polovine XX v. Sbornik Muzeya antropologii i etnografii. T. 34, Leningrad 1978, p. 136.
 SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: Istoriya sredneaziatskogo kostyuma: Samarkand (2ya polovina XIX – natchalo XX v.). Moskva, Nauka 1982, p. 39.
 BIKZHANOVA, Murshida Abdullovna: Odezhda uzbetchek Tashkenta XIX – natchala XX v. Sukhareva, O. A. (otv. red.) Kostyum narodov Sredney Azii: istoriko-etnografitcheskie otcherki. Moskva, Nauka 1979, p. 138–140.
 SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: Istoriya sredneaziatskogo kostyuma: Samarkand (2ya polovina XIX – natchalo XX v.), p. 38.
 MOROZOVA, Anna Stepanovna: Traditsionnaya narodnaya odezhda turkmen. In LOBATCHEVA, N. P., SAZONOVA, M. V. (otv. red.) Traditsionnaya odezhda narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana, p. 83.
 VASIL’EVA, Galina Petrovna: Turkmeny – nokhurli. In TOLSTOV, S. P., ZHDANKO, T. A. (otv. red.) Sredneaziatskiy etnografitcheskiy sbornik, p. 163.
 MOROZOVA, Anna Stepanovna: Traditsionnaya narodnaya odezhda turkmen. In LOBATCHEVA, N. P., SAZONOVA, M. V. (otv. red.) Traditsionnaya odezhda narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana, p. 66.
 LOBATCHEVA, Nina Petrovna: Karakalpakskie golovnye nakidki. In LOBATCHEVA, N. P., SAZONOVA, M. V. (otv. red.) Traditsionnaya odezhda narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana. Moskva, Nauka 1989, p. 171–172, 181.
 BIKZHANOVA, Murshida Abdullovna: Odezhda uzbetchek Tashkenta XIX – natchala XX v. In SUKHAREVA, O. A. (otv. red.) Kostyum narodov Sredney Azii: istoriko-etnografitcheskie otcherki, p. 142.
 SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: Istoriya sredneaziatskogo kostyuma: Samarkand (2ya polovina XIX – natchalo XX v.), p. 44.
 BIKZHANOVA, Murshida Abdullovna: Odezhda uzbetchek Tashkenta XIX – natchala XX v. In SUKHAREVA, O. A. (otv. red.) Kostyum narodov Sredney Azii: istoriko-etnografitcheskie otcherki, p. 141.
 NALIVKIN, Vladimir Petrovitch, NALIVKINA, Mariya Vladimirovna: Otcherk byta zhenshchiny tuzemnogo naseleniya Fergany, p. 96.
 SHIROKOVA, Zinaida Aleksandrovna: Traditsionnaya i sovremennaya odezhda zhenshchin gornogo Tadzhikistana, p. 82.
 EMEL’YANENKO, Tat’yana Grigor’evna: Traditsionnyy kostyum bukharskikh evreev. Sankt-Peterburg, Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie 2012, p. 177.
 SHIROKOVA, Zinaida Aleksandrovna: Traditsionnaya i sovremennaya odezhda zhenshchin gornogo Tadzhikistana, p. 82.
 Data from a field research conducted by O. V. Starostina in Mascho District, Sughd Region, acquired in 2018 from accounts of local old women who had been told by their mothers about their wedding. Chodar is used in this area in the same way even at present.
 SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: Istoriya sredneaziatskogo kostyuma: Samarkand (2ya polovina XIX – natchalo XX v.), p. 40–41.
 Koran. 24:31, 33:59
ANTIPINA, Klavdiya Ivanovna: Osobennosti material’noy kul’tury i prikladnogo iskusstva yuzhnykh kirgizov. Frunze, Izd-vo AN Kirg. SSR 1962.
BIKZHANOVA, Murshida Abdullovna: Odezhda uzbetchek Tashkenta XIX – natchala XX v. Sukhareva, O. A. (otv. red.) Kostyum narodov Sredney Azii: istoriko-etnografitcheskie otcherki. Moskva, Nauka 1979, p. 133–151.
BOBRINSKIY, Aleksey Aleksandrovitch: O nekotorykh simvolitcheskikh znakakh obshchikh pervobytnoy ornamentike vsekh narodov Evropy i Azii. Moskva, T-vo tip. A.I. Mamontova 1902.
EMEL’YANENKO, Tat’yana Grigor’evna: Traditsionnyy kostyum bukharskikh evreev. Sankt-Peterburg, Peterburgskoe vostokovedenie 2012.
KISLYAKOV, Nikolay Andreevitch: Materialy po drevnim verovaniyam gornykh tadzhikov. Strany i narody. Vyp. XXVI., Kn. 3. Moskva, Nauka 1989, p. 249–268.
KISLYAKOV, Nikolay Andreevitch: Otcherki po istorii sem’i i braka u narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana. Leningrad, Nauka 1969.
LOBATCHEVA, Nina Petrovna: K istorii sredneaziatskogo kostyuma (zhenskie golovnye nakidki-khalaty). Sovetskaya etnografiya, № 6, 1965, p. 34–49.
LOBATCHEVA, Nina Petrovna: Karakalpakskie golovnye nakidki. Lobatcheva, N. P. – Sazonova, M. V. (otv. red.) Traditsionnaya odezhda narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana. Moskva, Nauka 1989, p. 169–181.
LYUSHKEVITCH, Fanya Davidovna: Odezhda tadzhikskogo naseleniya Bukharskogo oazisa v pervoy polovine XX v. Sbornik Muzeya antropologii i etnografii. T. 34, Leningrad 1978, p. 123–144.
MOROZOVA, Anna Stepanovna: Golovnye ubory turkmen (po kollektsiyam GME). Tr. In-ta istorii, arkheologii i etnografii Turkmenskoy SSR. T. VII. Moskva, 1963, p. 81–118.
MOROZOVA, Anna Stepanovna: Traditsionnaya narodnaya odezhda turkmen. Lobatcheva, N. P. – Sazonova, M. V. (otv. red.) Traditsionnaya odezhda narodov Sredney Azii i Kazakhstana. Moskva, Nauka 1989, p. 39–89.
NALIVKIN, Vladimir Petrovitch – Nalivkina, Mariya Vladimirovna: Otcherk byta zhenshchiny tuzemnogo naseleniya Fergany. Kazan‘: Tipografiya Imperatorskogo universiteta 1886.
SHIROKOVA, Zinaida Aleksandrovna: Traditsionnaya i sovremennaya odezhda zhenshchin gornogo Tadzhikistana, Dushanbe, Donish 1976.
SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: Istoriya sredneaziatskogo kostyuma: Samarkand (2ya polovina XIX – natchalo XX v.). Moskva, Nauka 1982.
SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: K istorii razvitiya samarkandskoy dekorativnoy vyshivki. Literatura i iskusstvo Uzbekistana. Kn. 6. Tashkent, 1937, p.119-134.
SUKHAREVA, Ol’ga Aleksandrovna: Opyt analiza pokroev traditsionnoy «tunikoobraznoy» sredneaziatskoy odezhdy v plane ikh istorii i evolyutsii. Sukhareva, O. A. (otv. red.) Kostyum narodov Sredney Azii: istoriko-etnografitcheskie otcherki. Moskva, Nauka 1979, p. 77-102.
VASIL’EVA, Galina Petrovna: Turkmeny – nokhurli. Tolstov, S. P. – Zhdanko, T. A. (otv. red.) Sredneaziatskiy etnografitcheskiy sbornik, t. XXI. Moskva, Nauka 1954, p. 82–215.