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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.
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.
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!
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!