I corresponded with Mistress Roxane Farabi, who sent me to her tailor re: my questions about color and pattern choice for artisan class. Master Safi al-Khansaa' was very kind and these are her comments:
Both cotton and wool were commonly used...especially for the inner
layers, which, especially for the working classes, is what would have
been worn. Silk, if used, would have been probably only on the top
layer. Men especially, only used silk on their outer layers, as any
garment next to their skin had to be cotton to be in keeping with the
Most of the coats we have seen were lined in cotton as well, although that is not a hard and fast rule.
am actually Roxane's personal tailor. I have made several coats for
her out of wool which she loves very much in the winter months. One is
lined in silk, and the other in linen. I have one wool coat myself
lined in linen, and have another wool one cut out that will hopefully
one of these days be sewed together...LOL. It will also be lined in
But I actually find that unless it is very cold and I am
standing outside in the middle of winter for an extended period for
some reason, that a silk top layer and several cotton under layers is
plenty warm in the cooler months. It is very rare that I need the wool
overcoat. Roxane will tell you the same thing...which she
laments...her red wool overcoat (called a Jobba) is a pretty one I made
with a laurel wreath cloud collar and porcelain laurel buttons...she
never gets to wear it because it makes her too hot most of the time.
will find in alternating weights of fabrics, heavy and light, for
shells and linings (which was actually done in the reverse with period
garments...the lining was the heavier of the two) it traps in your body
warmth and keeps you very protected against the cold.
It is a
misconception among many people that Central Asian garb is "nice and
cool." As you pointed out, much of Persia is actually quite
mountainous, and was covered in snow for a portion of the year, making
it obviously quite cold. Our garb is VERY warm, and is great in the
winter months. It's actually not the greatest in the summer months,
(it is actually downright HOT if you wear every single layer) but there
are tricks to looking period and staying cool.
The lower classes
would have worn more solid colors and stripes, these fabrics are much
cheaper to make and therefore less expensive. These would have been
used rather than complicated florals, brocades, or even block printed
patterns, which was a actually a fabric called kalamkar, and it was
imported from India, and very expensive. If this fabric is used, it
would be on the top layer only, and used very sparingly.
lower class woman would have a simple headdress, (but would still wear
some sort of head covering...that is a must) but would be less covered,
believe it or not, than the noble ladies of the upper class. These
customs of priviledged veiling predate Islamic veiling customs by
thousands of years (13th century BC) The higher a woman's rank was, the
more likely she was to veil heavily. A simple fillet headband with a
feather in the front, a small flat round cap with a square veil pinned
to it, or even just a simple babushka tied under the chin are perfectly
period and work very nicely for lower class ladies.
dyeing was such an exact science and was done at such a production
level that virtually any color was available to most of the classes.
There are many colors in period, in Persia that were not available
elsewhere until well after our period. Obviously there would have been
some colors more common than others, such as indigo blue, various
greens made from over dyeing indigo and different yellows, and purples
made from cutch and cochineal, which were common dyes. If you were to
wear a red or bright pink color, I would say in the lower classes, it
would be better for the outer coat, as a color you would want to show
off. These dyes, although still very available, were a little more
expensive (lac, kermes, etc.) Rusts and reddish browns are very cheap
and common (madder, henna, etc.) And some bright yellows are another
color that again, would have been available, but you would use more
sparingly...(saffron overdyes, etc)
The only color which you
must avoid like the plague is black. If you would like to be period,
do not wear black except for your shoes. This color was seen as
unlucky, and the color of the devil. Sometimes you see people who look
like they are wearing black in the miniatures, and they are actually
wearing something that was painted with indigo that has turned black
over time, or they actually might even represent the devil in a
miniature...that sometimes actually happens.
I asked for more information about 'the Hadith' and got:
The Hadith are the oral sayings related to Muhammad, and is considered
an important tool for understanding how to live the Muslim way of
life. It outlines all sorts of things, including dress. It is written
that after their earthly death, the faithful will be awarded with silk
garments upon entering Paradise.
It was widely believed that
the wearing of silk was impious and disrespectful to the Prophet's
teachings, as it brazenly and selfishly showed Allah they had no need
of silk garments in Paradise, as they had already purchased silk for
themselves with their own wealth.
Those who were very religious
often took an oath of poverty and only wore modest clothing, only of
linen or cotton, with little or no adornments. Men who were religious,
but also wanted to wear finery, got around this tenet by wearing cotton
clothing next to the skin, and only wore silk in the very outer layers,
even having their coats lined in cotton. This is why most pirihan are
made of cotton. The 14th century pirihan made of silk is probably a
woman's garment. Women had less stringent rules in this regard. They
were seen as helpless, not being able to control themselves, much
like children...not knowing any better. Most pirihan are of light
colors...unbleached, undyed fabric (off-white, etc.) Any color on it
was usually that of embroidery. This is probably because dyed fabrics,
which are more expensive, were saved for the outer layers that are
Men also wore a special kind of pirihan called a
talisman pirihan, or talisman shirt. Some people think that a talisman
shirt is a different garment than a pirihan, but it is important to
understand what the word pirihan means. All it means is, generally,
undershirt. Just like the word, underwear. Just as there are
different kinds of underwear, there are different pirihan. A talisman
pirihan had religious inscriptions, tiraz bands, and sometimes
numerical symbols written on them. Some of these shirts look like they
were planned out in a mathematical/magical way, some do not. A boy was
given a shirt like this when he turned 12, and he wore them from that
time on. It is unclear exactly what boys/men wore them, but definitely
all of the middle to upper classes did. The inscriptions on the shirt
were meant to protect the wearer from harm.
Great stuff - much thanks and gratitude for Master Safi's kindness, and thank you to Mistress Roxane for forwarding my questions.
Looks like I can proceed with my plans for those fabrics after all - providing there's enough! (yes, yes, I know it's been hours since I last worried about that, and it doesn't take that long to doublecheck measurements for yardage, but I'm simultaneously scanning ILL Persian garden books that have to go back next week (whyohwhydoILLbooksALWAYSshowupwhenmostinconvenient), and I'm working. Really. I promise I'll get to the doublecheck tomorrow.)
(This post got out of order - see yesterday's Stash post for fabrics.)
I'm having a confluence of Persian culture, lately.
I've been working on prepping a "Medieval Desert Gardens" class, in order to provide medieval solutions to our recent drought issues. This necessarily involves Persian gardens, as we have descriptions and archaeological remains of gardens on the Persian plateau beginning in 550BC. Also many of the foods that we eat now originated in the 'Fertile Crescent' - so studying Persia is really helpful for a gardener.
I've been impressed with Jadi, a Persian Laurel, both her garb and her dancing. Mistress Sindokht offered a Persian dance class at Saltare, and I enjoyed it very much.
So I'm adding Persian culture to my collection of interests. This means clothes.
I've corresponded with Urtatim (the owner of Lilinah's Courtyard) - she
was recommended to me by a ME Laurel in Gleann Abhann - mostly about
possible garden resources, but I should go back to her for garb
Melbrigda reminded me of the link to Rashid's stuff at Dar Anahita.
I downloaded all the PDF patterns from Roxane Farabi, and it looks like
there's enough information there to pull an ensemble together, if I can
get some guidance about fabric choices that AREN'T SO SHINY (I emailed
her about what sort of fabrics/colors/patterns appropriate for midlevel
class). I don't much like her pictures of satins and silks
for my Peasant Tech efforts - especially when she says over and over in the documentation that linen and
cotton are appropriate too. Also I want to know about making one of
the undercoats wool for when it's cold at night.
It seems to me that I want:
A shift-like thing (pirahan), in translucent linen, possibly embroidered, open to waist. (ahem - there will be a cheat here.)
A pair of baggy pants (salwar), also in very light linen, with possible embroidered calves (naqshi).
A under-coat (ziri-qaba) in a heavier linen, or matte silk, some color,
embroidered neck edge. (Could be cotton, but I don't want to sweat and
have a damp layer.) Not lined. Patterned.
A second under-coat (ruyi-qaba) in wool for warmth. Appliqued trim majorette-style.
An over-coat (joba) with shorter sleeves, in tightly woven cotton or silk, lined with same in diff fabric.
Cute shoes (purchased), a translucent linen chador-veil, a braid
extension-thingy (saragus), and I can use my apprentice pearls to hang
around my face. And a green silk sash, natch.
I'm looking forward to drawing up a sketch and collecting fabrics. Design! Design! Design!
(Note, I allowed rayon in this case because it's my first set, rayon is still cellulose, and it shines like silk. Also, the odds of the universe dumping a neat SET of silk fabrics in my lap in time to sew before Gulf Wars (mid March) are astronomical.)
Linen with rayon machine embroidery, 3.5+ yards. This is a very dull fabric, so I think it'd be fun to over-embroider bright colors on that pattern. Here it is by itself: Maybe the orange from the next fabric down, plus the red from the top jacquard, and leaves in bright and yellow-green?
Fabric #3 is linen with rayon threads in deep orange, two browns, and white. Not quite 3 yards.
#4 is 100% linen in mint. 1.5 yards (hope this is enough for salwar! need to sit down with Rashid's measuring diagrams - I am 67" tall, but 38/32/42.)
#5 is nearly 5 yards of wool coating - which I'll probably dye black and use for 16th c Flemish Protestant for European dancing.
I'm really happy with this stack from a poetic standpoint - if I'm recreating an artisan-level persona, perhaps the Gardener's Wife Who Dances? I have the ripples of the water, with floating lotuses, the vining flowers in the desert, the harsh browns and oranges of the rocks and sand, the cooling green. But the odd of finding a lining on theme!
I just need more translucent linen for pirihin and chador, and a green sash to replace my European apprentice's belt.
Roxane, does this sound plausible? You don't happen to know of a silk with blockprinted pomegranates for joba lining, do you? (Gee, that sounds like a project.)