This post will be an offshoot of my much earlier post about the Chador in Iran. The chador continues to be misunderstood by many people outside of Iran. Even some Iranian-Americans imagine the chador to be a new post-revolutionary fad. I wanted to concentrate on the types of chadors worn for prayer (salaat/namaaz) and around the house. As previously mentioned many women, particularly traditional and/or religious Iranian women group up wearing a chador, either around the house when na-mahram guests are over or wrapped around them whilst they snooze or for their prayers, and of course, outside over a manteau, pants and scarf.
House chador: Around the house the chador comes in handy in a number of ways when guests are over, particularly male guests that are considered na-mahram. They are handy to throw over you’re clothing if guests-even women guests pop by and you’re not dressed for the occasion. They are also useful to hide clothing that is wet or dirty from cooking/washing/cleaning and ofcourse some women just *prefer* to have their house chador perpetually wrapped around themselves. regardless of whether there are no na-mahram around, they just feel more comfortable with it up over their shoulders and knotted at the waist. The fabrics used for house chadors tends to be very thin and a bit shorter than the ones used for prayer or outside. The fabric usually has some sort of a print and is a very airy thin cotton blend or poyester, Some women make them from chiffon to wear over a party dress at a wedding. They obviously are made from cheaper fabrics because they wear out quickly from habitual use and most women have several that they keep around the house. They tend to be a little bit shorter than other kinds because there is less of a risk of tripping or them being bothersome when cleaning.
Prayer Chador: The other kind of chador other then the kind for outside and the kind for around the house is the kind used for prayer. Now, it’s perfectly acceptable to pray in your house chador or even in your outside chador and many women do it, but I believe that most women have another special chador set aside strictly for prayer. First because are no worries about whether the chador is clean enough for prayer and second, it always feel so nice slipping into a clean, fresh prayer garment. Many women who wear this kind of a chador for prayer will making a matching maghneh (Iranian style slip-over scarf) to go with it so there is no fiddling around with finding a scarf for the morning prayer.
It is also more than possible to wear the traditional style of chador for salaat without having something long sleeved on or without a headcarf. There are ways to wrap the chador under the wearers arm or to have it draped over onself fully and then wrapping it so it encasses the wearer completely. You can also do the wrap and tuck style like what is done with traditional Gulf shershafs (sheets used for prayer).
There are also other types of prayer “chadors” worn for prayer. There are the 1 piece slip-over kind that are similar to the “thobe” style from the Gulf and the Egyptian style prayer outfit. These kind of prayer garments are still not as popular as the traditional chador is but they are coming along, I am sure that within a few years they will be much more commonly used for salaat because there is less fabric and less fuss. Although they are much less elegant and feminine.
**Update, I’m actually preparing for a job interview and plan to expand upon this post in a few days. But in the meantime I got a comment from a sister who owns a chador and wants to wear it for prayer but doesnt know how.
Okay, I will take some pictures and post them, in the meantime I found these pictures of women at Tehran Universities large central masjid praying. Usually one just drapes the chador over oneself and then can tuck when needed for certain movement, although there are other methods as well.
They really aren’t difficult to wear, just cumbersome if your not used to it and you have to remember most chador wearing women had one as a child to play around with so they really grow up “in” the chador and dont just throw it on as an adult.