Traditional Islamic Men Clothes -- Past and Present

Climatic regime, specific weather conditions and religious factors of Muslim East have become reflected not only in traditions and customs of Islam followers. Religious prescriptions and rules can be traced down in fashion which Islamic men and women follow. Islamic men clothes are multifunctional and can tell a story about its owners. Muslim man's garments tell about the owner's social status, his affluence, and family clan identification.

According to Moslem customs and traditions, both male and female wear must cover practically all body, and the only exception is made for face and hands. Wide and shapeless garment allows hiding all the shapes of a body. It is considered that such Islamic men clothes add solidity to man's gait.

Therefore, at first sight it is rather difficult for the Europeans to distinguish Islamic men clothes from the female ones. At the same time, there is a rigid system of rules and laws forbidding adherents of the Islam to wear clothes of another sex. It is worth admitting that for many centuries the traditional Islamic men clothes have included original simple wide trousers with pleats - so called "serwal" which began from the waist. That serwal was fixed on a waist; trousers were engridled around a waste with a wide belt several times.

Most often, the belt was of red color and usually was worn together with dagger and decorated with jewelry. The belt was often used as an original pocket where its owner could put coins and other small stuff. By the gorgeousness of the serwal it was easy to determine the level of income and social status of its owner. For example, prosperous people worn trousers in which the wide part reached the ankles and simple peasants worn trousers in which the wide part was only knee-deep.

The serwal is put on atop a free shirt and so called "gumbase" - an undershirt, which is a dress with ventilation holes on each side. It is interesting to know that sometimes the complete set consisting of serwal and gumbase is called a caftan. By the look of a caftan it was possible to determine a social status of an owner of the serwal. The serwals of rich or famous men were different from the serwals of common people, and their trousers were wider and the sleeves of gumbase were more splendid and figured with jewels and golden threads.

It is believed that some centuries ago Islamic men worn the colored caftans decorated with numerous skilful embroideries and applications, but since now such colored caftans have gone out of fashion, and modern men prefer to wear serwals of white color. One more obligatory attribute of clothes of Islamic men was head-dress.

Men head-dresses differed from region to region in the East and their fashion developments differed as well. The basic and the most wide-spread name for a head-dress of Islamic men is "smagh". It is a kind of head scarf, most often the one of white color. It was fixed on a head with the help of special cords plaited in a circle called "ygal". Ancient Arabs, when setting out on a journey, un-tethered their camels, and in order not to lose a cord which was used for tethering the animals, they reeled it on their smaghs.

One more popular Islamic men head-dress is "turban", which has been very wide-spread for a long time. Like serwal, the turban was also an indicator of a level of prosperity of its owner. The more pleats a turban had and the higher it was, the more eminent and richer its owner was.

The modern Islamic men clothes have undergone some changes in connection with the prompt intrusion of the European way of life into the life of the East. Many Islamic men aspire to be dressed according to the latest tendencies of the European fashion; however, they still stand by some elements of the traditional clothes.

So, now it is not a bit surprising to see a solid men wearing an expensive business suit and driving a very expensive car, with smagh on his head. Some Moslems wear a jacket and a tie atop a serwal. At the same time, despite the certain changes in Islamic men clothes, wearing a traditional head-dress is obligatory for all men in many Islamic countries.

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