Omani Traditional Clothing
By: Pamela Dimitrova/ Arab America Contributing Writer
Omani traditional clothing is one of the richest and most colorful in the world. It is a reflection of the unique history and culture of the country. Let’s take a look at their magnificent clothing, designed on the enticing pattern!
The Omani traditional Clothing for women is called “Omaniya”, which comes from the Arabic word which, in direct translation, means something or someone being Omani. The women’s Omaniya dress is consistent of four main clothing items – Dishdasha, Sarwal, Waqaya and finally, the Lahaf.
The female dishdasha is traditionally a dress that extends beyond the knees. It has a neckline tracing and loose long sleeves which reach down to the wrist. It is traditionally made of colorful prints made from cotton or even cotton/silk blends. The extent that a woman will embellish and enhance her Dishdasha will simply change based on the use of it. One which is used at home will only be embellished around the ends of the sleeve (on the wrist). Other special events and occasions require the dishdasha to be embellished all around, such as on the neck, chest and alongside the arms.
Sarwal is basically the bottom half of the dishdasha. Knowing that the dishdasha may extent to the ankles, it was still necessary for a woman to cover her whole legs. This however has a purpose due to the Omani lifestyle. It has a loose-fitting style as it’s more comfortable for works. A woman used to spend most of her time working on the lands (farms) supervising animals or collecting vegetation to feed the herd or fuel fire for cooking. It was also useful for rest times. As in Oman people sit on the ground it’s necessary to have a loose-fitting garment in order to move with ease. Not only does the sarwal support comfort, but it is also used as today’s undergarment.
The waqaya is a headpiece, usually 150 cm long and 75 cm wide, and is often made from lighter clothes than the sarwal or the female Dishdasha. This piece of cloth can be embroidered on the edges by colors or a solid color. One of waqaya’s features is the fringing on both shorter edges of the waqaya cloth. This fringing is essential to making a piece of normal cloth into a waqaya.
Lahaf is also a headpiece, however, is not worn around the head tightly, but is just placed on top of the head loosely. It is draped over the top of the head, hanging down both sides of the face and down the back. It is not traditionally worn indoors. It’s only worn when a woman steps out of her house for traditional reasons. A woman with Zanzibar origin or connection would use a Kanga scarf instead of a Lahaf.
The male’s Omani traditional clothing is the same all around the country. It is mainly composed of a Dishdasha, wazar, khanjar, and a cap/turban.
Dishdasha is a long dress, collarless reaching to the ankles. In cotton, for warm seasons and wool during winter, this clothing different himself from the Emirati qamis by his length and the string that adorns it. Indeed, the string of the Omani qamis is shorter than the Emirati qamis. This cordon named “Tarbousha” is shifted to the right side.
Wazar is used as an undergarment which is worn under the dishdasha. The wazar is usually made from cotton. Traditionally, this piece of cloth is white. In the south of Oman, only fibers are used due to the weather and conditions there. In the south of Oman, there is a tendency of using thicker fabrics than in the central or northern parts of Oman. The wazar is wrapped around the waste not tied. The wazar usually extends to the middle of the calf muscle or even lower reaching the ankles. The wazar shouldn’t show hanging out under the dishdasha.
The khanjar is an Omani dagger with a wide and curved blade. Just like the Yemenite djanbia, the khanjar is a truly national emblem. Even though Yemenis like wearing it daily, unlike them, Omanis wear it only during ceremonies. They wear it for the national day, religious holidays, or wedding; to wear this garment during these events is a symbol of virility and pride.
The Omani dagger is an accessory of cultural legacy Omanis are very attached to. It is worn on the waist, fixed on an iron or silver belt, which holds the Dishdasha. The cost of a khanjar depends on the metal it was made of and the material used for the handle. It can be made of Sandalwood, Bigaradier, or giraffe horn. The more rare is the material, the more expensive it will be.
There are different types of Omani caps, of which the best known are the Kumma and the turban.
The Kumma is a kind of hat round-shaped, adorned with embroidery patterns as diverse and varied. The aeration is optimized by holes. Nowadays, the Kumma which can be swollen, flattened or pinched is worn by young people.
The Omani turban is a kind of keffiyeh which Omanis wear wrapped around their head. This male accessory is the official cap in the country. The Omani turban names “massar” or “mazar” is very varied. It can be found in white cotton, thin embordered wool or cashmere and also multicolored. The turban permits to distinguish the peasant from a rich contractor. A distinction of tribes and classes that can not be made as there are nearly 10 ways to wear the Omani turban.
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