Beautiful ikats and florals – Tajikistan


(Tajiki singers in traditional attire)

I haven’t done a Central Asian/Iranian culture/fashion/hejab post in ages…Ive been meaning to do one on Tajikistan. and the Tajik (Persian) peoples, Tajikistan is basically considered …the *other* majority Persian country in the region, next to Iran which is the best known and largest.

Tajikistan  is a smallish country which borders Afghanistan to the south and Kygyzstan to the north. Unlike its Turkic neighbors its people are predominantly ethnically and linguistically Persian. They call themselves “Tojiki” hence the name Tajikistan -“literally land of the Tajik peoples”.  Tajiks themselves are actually spread all over Central Asia and make up a large ethnic minority in Afghanistan, Western China and other Central Asian republics. They are similar to Persians in Iran, although there are some differences. If you can tell the difference between Iranian Persian, Afghani Persian and Tajiki Persian you would instantly be able to distinguish Tajiki as its much more melodeous compared to standard Iranian Persian and uses many of the same older words as Afghani Persian which Iran managed to get rid of several decades ago.

Anyway, enough on the background. Tajiki’s LOVE their florals and ikat prints and the “modern”national dress for women, which developed during Soviet times is a very baggy, pleated gown, generally with short sleeves, worn over snug fitting pants and a scarf tied as a kerchif, Its quite utilitarian and suitable for basically any and every job from household work to agricultural labor to factory work. The design itself shares many commonalities with similar dresses in  neighboring Central Asian Republics.

(Tajiki women at a wedding)

Women who wear the traditional attire are considered traditional Tajik women.

The actual historical womans costume was considerably more elaborate and although some elements of the historical costume are seen in the modern “national” costume, many of the overly elaborate or downright impractical elements were removed and now the historical costume is reserved mainly for holidays or are used by folkloric dancers/singers.

Historical Tajiki dress

(Historical Tajiki dress)

Unfortunately, like most countries in Central Asia, the slightly more updated “pan-Islamic” clothing style such as Islamic headscarf with a loose gown, coat, jilbab or skirt/pants and a shirt is considered with some suspicion by many mainstream Tajikis as being fundamentalist-y and Arab innovated!  Granted the majority of Tajiks are Muslim. But, after almost a century of Communist rule, many consider themselves mostly culturally Muslim and hence view the “hejab” as a foreign import! Many Tajiki Muslim women who wear a headscarf and modest attire in the pan-Islamic fashion are actually harrassed and just like in Turkey are not allowed inside schools, Universities or offices with “Islamic-style” headscarf. Although they ARE allowed in wearing the traditional kerchifs and gowns. Throw the slowly growing trend for Niqab into the mix and well, you have a lot of problems!

(Tajiki Muslim women in hejab)

But, controversies aside. I do indeed LOVE the style of their national dresses because they are so unabashedly garish and bright. I love their sense of color and style! I  don’t understand why there cant be a mixture of the two styles-the Pan-Islamic and the traditional to form a uniquely Tajiki style which would both constitute hejab while catering to local tastes. Which is allowed according to most madhabs and is called ‘Urf (I discussed this several months back).

I did not want to leave out the mens attire. Their national costume sort of remind me of prints of old Persian (Iranian) mens attire from several hundred years ago. There is such a similar look its almost striking.


Before I end this post I wanted to share a few pictures I found on Tajiki attire of the Tajik ethnic group of NW China. It seems as though many of the original historical elements have been preserved in the modern, everyday costume of traditional Tajiki women in China. Take a look and see what I mean!

(Chinese Tajiki family in Kashgar)



9 thoughts on “Beautiful ikats and florals – Tajikistan

  1. Salam!

    Thanks for another interesting post- I am loving the colours and mix of patterns as well!

    However, you are right to point out the contradiction between proper Islamic attire and cultural dress/sartorial hijab. This arises amongst a lot of other non-Arab but (nominally) Muslim cultures- the Berbers of North-Africa, the Bosnians and Chechens of Eastern Europe, for example. Women there traditionally wear fairly modest clothing- but with arms and neck showing-and kerchiefs which expose their necks and ears and even some hair. Covering more extensively or wearing a single garment like an abaya, and wearing a scarf which is wrapped and pinned to only show the face is seen as “Arab”, “foreign” and “extremist”- when really it’s just proper,sharia compliant dress for a Muslima!
    Why is it that a mere kerchief, a babushka, is considered by some to be Islamic hijab?! Some Orthodox Jewish women cover better than that!

    • Haliima, actually its not just non-Arab cultures that historically had as their “hejab” their necks showing and whatever else, actually if you look at old, old pictures of both tribal and villagers in what is now known as Saudi Arabia-for an example, many of the women have frankly similar attire, arms exposed and often not even a headscarf, it would be a turban, or even a kerchif style or even a hat! That was in Saudi, 100years ago…the modern style of Saudi abaya, tarha and niqab is actually seen by many Saudis whose families are traditionally village or city dwellers as being “Bedouin dress”…and many dislike wearing it as they produly say they arent Bedu! So this is the case even in someplace like Saudi Arabia!

      Also if you think of it from an agricultural standpoint, most people-women included had to work in the fields along with their families and even in some areas this remains the case, isnt a dress with arms semi-exposed over pants with a kerchif style scarf more practical when your beidng over a field all day? I’m not saying its proper hejab in any way shape or form…but from my own experience in my husbands village and heklping in those fields with his family, trust me, I soon tucked my scarf into my manteau and tied my chador around my waist and rolled up my sleeves…how else can you do the work? So again, I think there is a lot that goes into this. But I do think that in this day and age, the proper Islamic hejab isnt impractical and they can def. find a way to enshallah mix their local ‘urf and the hejab into a harmonious blend which is proper hejab. y’know.

  2. I love the floral prints! And I absolutely don’t think that they need to give up their traditional dress and start wearing Khaleeji abayas in order to be “properly dressed”. All they’d have to do is throw on a hijab (floral pattern, maybe?) and some long sleeves and they’re good to go!

  3. Actually I agree,their national dresses are actually wonderfully modest…if they wore long sleeves a bigger scarf,that would indeed constitute hejab… en’shallah someday they can reconcile this!

  4. I love the bright colors. I’ve seen ikat fabrics here in Korea, brought in from Central Asian countries. I wanted to get some, but it was pricey!

  5. Actually, veiled women were considered prostitutes in ancient ME cultures. I still think these people had their point. When woman is completely veiled, its assumed: 1. muslim men cant restrain themselves. When they see pretty women, they have to harass her. Therefore (this is the funny part of it – women have to veil themselves so poor muslim men dont have to put any effort into being modest). Does Allah consider muslim men to be uncontrollable pigs? 2. It promotes sexual violence. In islamic sexually segregated society, men doesn not see women, cant touch them, frequently cant talk to them, cant masturbate. Those regulations turn them into frustrated individuals. The more are women veiled, the more are men frustrated. It nicely explains why are muslim men such chauvinistic, sex-obsessed, frustrated, harassing creatures. Poor them.

    • congratulations for showing your ignorance. I suggest you go off and actually edu-ma-cate yourself about modest clothing and hejab for both Muslim men and women according to islamic rulings in the Quraan, Sunnah and scholarly books because you are misinformed and well…thats sad. Hejab or mdest attire is actually prescribed for BOTH men and women who are Muslim. The purpose is 1 for modesty so Muslim men and women are treated with respect, that they wont go around, go to bars, date, do nasty stuff that people who are non-Muslim are free to do, it also serves the purpose of identifying one AS Muslim…so they are treated with dignity and respect and 3, to show piety to God…as Muslims our first duty is to practice our faith and an outward component of that is to be modesty dress ed and behave modestly. Unfortunately some Muslims from foreign countries take their culture over their faith…and hence, do not behave how Muslims are supposed to behave. I suggest you spend more time around actual practicing Muslims who follow Islam according to proper islamic sources and who are not intoxicated by their cultural practices which blind them toewards knowing the deen (faith) fulling AND who are proud to cover modestly, behave modesty and show society that they are Muslim…a good, practicing Muslim man would never objectify a woman…Muslim or not. They shouldnt even be glancing at a woman. men who do that, are weak and need to fear for their souls and improve their deen. much like women should not put on a scarf and think that is all that modesty entails and then go out and dress in tight clothing as it just makes them objects of ridicule and disrespect!!! Also even non-Muslims respect a proper Muslim (man and woman) as they know they are religious and do not engage in activities which are considered base and inappropriate.

      • Actually, I am pretty much knowleadgeable about what is deen, what is awrah etc. I have read quite a lot of islamic resources covering koran, sahih bukhari and sahih muslim.

        (I deleted the rest of the comment as it was much too crass, with way too many cuss words)

      • asalaamu alaikum…we’ll thats very sad and unfortunate that you have had such a horrible experience around your fellow Muslims. Sister, this is where you need to ensure that you set the right example and if you see Muslims misbehaving you need to tell them so…to fear Allah, to have modesty. They obviously were not taught their religion. I lived in Saudi and I know, men were very nasty but I did not fear saying…brother, you behavior is HARAAM…and usually they would stop. I do it here. Also if you walk with an air of piety and modesty they should respect you. Really, its simply a problem with them being taught culture and not their faith. Because if they had been taught faith they would respect women as their sisters in the deen. Lastly…sister, I do not appreciate you putting such nasty, cuss words on my blog. hence I deleted them. When your around Muslims…act like a Muslim, dont cuss. I think you really need to sit down with some good, religious Muslims and hash out whats going on as you obviously are having some problems with your local community. en’sha’Allah you can find some pious people to help you.

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