On the upcoming 77th Independence Day, a Thursday not far off, Jordanians anticipate donning their traditional attire with fervor, an act that’s been chronicled over the passing of ages.
This sartorial legacy, a mirror of their unique identity, culture, and the historical essence that permeates the Jordanian soil, tells tales of their civilization evolving over centuries.
It’s fascinating to observe how human societies, in their historical tapestry, have curated diverse forms of attire influenced by their geographical and psychological landscape, eventually growing to signify their cultural wealth.
These creations of clothing are the societal reflections of aesthetic grace and cultural opulence, they’ve harmoniously unified and formed a distinctive national character over the ages.
In this dance of textile heritage, Jordanians sway in rhythm, their national costumes serving as the spoken word of their rich identity and history etched deep into their native lands.
Consequently, experts and enthusiasts alike express a growing sentiment towards designating a national day celebrating the Jordanian costume, an emblematic tribute to the narrative of a nation and its people. This idea has graduated from a cultural novelty to a national imperative.
The Jordan News Agency, Petra, journeyed into the history of Jordanian traditional dress, exploring its popularity in local markets. The traditional garb is sought after for celebrations and weddings, as gifts among fellow citizens, and even foreign dignitaries, as it paints a portrait of the nation’s cultural ethos.
One striking example is the madraqa, a women’s dress rich in variety – from length to embroidery to colors. Despite the differences, each madraqa adorns the wearer with a charm and originality that modern fashion often fails to capture.
Petra, having conversed with experts and enthusiasts, recognized a universal consensus on the need for a national day dedicated to this dress, emphasizing its importance as a cultural insignia of the nation.
Shop owners have noticed a surge in demand for traditional Jordanian attire over recent years, worn with pride on various occasions, even presented as gifts to international figures. This increasing ubiquity demonstrates the societal acceptance and growing charm of these costumes.
Hind Khleifat, a journalist passionate about Jordanian attire, expressed her predilection for the traditional Salti dress, over the offerings of international fashion houses. She views the popular dress as an ideal ambassador for the country’s heritage and national identity. To her, Jordanian dresses are a touchstone of grace and originality.
Tharwa Abu Darwish, a devotee of Jordanian heritage, perceives a rising enthusiasm among women to acquire and don these dresses on various occasions. She described the components of the Hormozi dress, a bridal attire, which exudes beauty and decency through its intricate elements.
In a similar vein, Manaf Obeidat, a traditional fashion designer, noted that vintage embroidery is trending in contemporary weddings and events. She believes that when one wears an embroidered piece, they are donning a narrative of dedication, evening labor, planning, color coordination, and hard work.
She revealed that the prices of these handmade masterpieces vary between 200 to 700 dinars, depending on the extent of workmanship. The dress, embroidered with special “embroidery rolls” made of French silk, requires the labor of at least three skilled women and can take between two to four months to complete. The ultimate product represents not just a garment, but an enduring symbol of heritage, craft, and passion.
Dr. Muhammad Barakat Tarawneh, Professor of Archaeology at Al-Hussein Bin Talal University’s Petra College of Tourism and Antiquities, illuminates the rich tapestry of human history as woven by the ancient Near East.
He outlines the region’s pivotal role in humanity’s metamorphosis into agricultural societies and the domestication of animals since the dawn of the Neolithic era. The humble sheep, in particular, began a long and fruitful partnership with mankind by providing wool, a sustainable, affordable material that took a liking to dyes, offered warmth and became the cornerstone of the textile industry, a reign unbroken from Neolithic times to the present day.
He explained that while the ebb of time has led to the decay of these textiles, crafted from organic material, the sands of archaeology have presented us with a treasure trove of evidence related to the textile industry during the Stone Age. For instance, textile spinning tools, vestiges of a civilization over 9,000 years old, have been discovered in numerous Neolithic sites scattered throughout the kingdom.
According to Tarawneh, people of the Stone Age, much like us, held a certain fascination for embellishments. Colored stones, bones, and various seashells from far-off lands like the Mediterranean and the Red Sea were gathered and transformed into ornate necklaces.
Fast forward to the Chalcolithic period, archaeological finds illustrate the evolution of the textile and clothing industry. Compelling evidence includes artifacts from the warrior cave near Ariha in northern Karak, notably a large piece of cloth used for the funeral wrapping of the departed.
Furthermore, the discovery of exquisitely made sandal leather shoes, devoid of any nails or adhesives and comparable to modern craftsmanship, is a testament to the industry’s advancement.
Tarawneh highlights one of the most significant discoveries by archaeologists – the oldest cotton threads in the Near East, hailing from the Jordan Valley region and dating back over 7,000 years, discovered in the northeastern Badia, specifically at the site of Dhuila. These cotton threads, preserved within a plaster fracture over 5,000 years old, are solid evidence of early human interaction with cotton and the variety of materials used in clothing manufacture.
As humanity entered the Bronze Ages, the clothing and textile industry blossomed further. From humble beginnings nearly 10,000 years ago, the art of spinning and weaving, once limited to domestic production, evolved into a specialized industry. Key evidence of this evolution includes the sketches found in the Bani Hassan cemetery in Egypt, over 4,000 years old, depicting visitors from the southern Levant visiting Egypt.
Tarawneh noted interesting differences in men’s and women’s clothing. Men sported shorter attire than women, occasionally featuring skirts, and donned sandals. Women, on the other hand, wore longer clothes and shoes that enveloped the entire foot. A riot of colors and decorations was apparent in both men’s and women’s garments, ranging from white, blue, and orange hues.
This colorful display highlights the growth of the dye industry and an increasing interest in pattern diversity. Women’s hair ties were a common feature. This fascination for varying motifs and colors echoes in modern traditional clothing, with women taking particular pride in multicolored, pattern-rich embroidery.
Source: Jordan News Agency