Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Chador

Chador

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Chador'
Start a new discussion about 'Chador'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
A chādor or chādar is an outer garment or open cloak
Cloak
A cloak is a type of loose garment that is worn over indoor clothing and serves the same purpose as an overcoat; it protects the wearer from the cold, rain or wind for example, or it may form part of a fashionable outfit or uniform. Cloaks are as old as human history; there has nearly always been...

 worn by many Iranian women
Women in Iran
Iranian women in this article refers to women of, or from, traditional Persian or modern Iranian culture.-Depictions and appearance:...

 and female teenagers in public spaces. Wearing this garment is one possible way in which a Muslim woman can follow the Islamic dress code known as ḥijāb
Hijab
The word "hijab" or "'" refers to both the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general....

. A chador is a full-body-length semicircle of fabric that is split open down the front, with a head-hole in the top. This cloth is tossed over the woman's or girl's head, but then she holds it closed in the front. The chador has no hand openings, or any button
Button
In modern clothing and fashion design, a button is a small fastener, most commonly made of plastic, but also frequently of seashell, which secures two pieces of fabric together. In archaeology, a button can be a significant artifact. In the applied arts and in craft, a button can be an example of...

s, clasps, et cetera, but rather it is held closed by her hands or by wrapping the ends snugly around her waist.

The traditional wear


Traditionally a light coloured or printed chador was worn with a headscarf (rousari), a blouse (pirahan), and a long skirt (damaan); or else a blouse & skirt or dress over pants (shalvar), and these styles continue to be worn by many rural Iranian women, in particular by older women. Historically in urban locations, the female's face was covered with a long, rectangular white veil (a ruband, see also called a niqab
Niqab
A niqab is a cloth which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of sartorial hijāb...

) extending down from immediately below her eyes. On the other hand, in Iran the chador does not require the wearing of a veil. Inside the home, particularly for urban women, both the chador and the veil have been discarded and there women and teenagers wore cooler and lighter garments; while in modern times, rural women continue to wear a light-weight printed chador inside the home over their clothing during their daily activities. The chador is more commonly worn by Shia (Shiite) Muslims.

Today



Before the modern revival of the chador, the color black was disdained for everyday wear because of its connotations concerning death and funerals. White or printed fabrics were preferred for everyday wear. Some women still prefer to wear happier, lighter colors. Contemporary older rural women have disdained the modern fashions, and some young women indulge in colored chadors.

During the reign of the Shah of Iran, such traditional Islamic clothing was largely discarded in favor of modestly worn Western clothing, such as the case in more Westernized countries like Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Morroco, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. However, in recent years, most of the women in those countries began to wear hijab again. In countries like Lebanon and Turkey, young women even wear bikini
Bikini
The bikini is typically a women's two-piece swimsuit. One part of the attire covers the breasts and the other part covers the crotch and part of or the entire buttocks, leaving an uncovered area between the two. Merriam–Webster describes the bikini as "a woman's scanty two-piece bathing suit" or "a...

s and other such swimwear to the beaches and public swimming pools. Iran does in fact allow women to wear bikinis and other swimsuits as long as they are in the female section of a pool/beach, and some Iranian women do so.

Iranian women are not required to wear chadors. Many, if not most do so, as wearing for respectability and Islamic piety. However, other women also fulfill the government requirements by wearing a combination of a headscarf and a long overcoat which conceals her arms and legs. The overcoat is known by a French word, manteau. Some women wearing manteaus would also wear them for religious reasons. Wearing of chadors often depends on where the person was raised, for example in liberal North Tehran, chador wearing is uncommon, while in conservative Southern Tehran, the overwhelming majority of women wear chadors.

Like the hijab, the chador has become popular among women in Islamist movements wishing to visibly identify themselves as Muslims and as an assertion of dignity and Islamic culture.

The History of Iranian women's clothing


Fadwa El Guindi
Fadwa El Guindi
Fadwa El Guindi is an Egyptian-born in 1941 professor of anthropology with a PhD in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin . At present she is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Qatar University in Doha, Qatar, as well as head of the department of social sciences.El Guindi...

, in her book on the history of hijab
Hijab
The word "hijab" or "'" refers to both the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general....

, locates the origin of the Persian custom in ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, where respectable women veiled, and servants and prostitutes were forbidden to do so. The veil marked class status, and this dress code was regulated by sumptuary law
Sumptuary law
Sumptuary laws are laws that attempt to regulate habits of consumption. Black's Law Dictionary defines them as "Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc." Traditionally, they were...

s.

This custom seems to have been adopted by the Persian Achaemenid rulers, who are said by the Graeco-Roman historian Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 to have hidden their wives and concubines from the public gaze.
Note, however, that the wives are hidden in wagons and litters, that is, by purdah
Purdah
Purdah or pardeh is the practice of concealing women from men. According to one definition:This takes two forms: physical segregation of the sexes, and the requirement for women to cover their bodies and conceal their form....

, not by chadors. There is no pictorial evidence for the chador before Islamic times. Wolfgang Bruhn and Max Tilke, in their 1941 A Pictorial History of Costume, do show a drawing, said to be copied from an Achaemenid relief of the 5th century BCE, of a woman with her lower face hidden by a long cloth wrapped around her head. This is evidence of veiling, but not of a chador.

It is likely that the custom of veiling continued through the Seleucid, Parthian
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

, and Sassanid periods, though there is little in the way of pictorial evidence for this. Upper-class Greek and Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 women were also secluded from the public gaze. El-Guindi believes that the Islamic hijab is a continuation of this ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern custom. Muslim women were to be veiled or secluded because it marked them as respectable, see Sex segregation and Islam.

It is not clear when the chador took the form in which it is currently known. European visitors of the 18th and 19th centuries have left pictorial records of women wearing the chador and the long white veil, but it is likely that the garment was worn long before that.

The 20th century Pahlavi
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

 ruler Reza Shah
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

 banned the chador and all hijab in 1936, as incompatible with his modernizing ambitions. According to Mir-Hosseini as cited by El-Guindi, "the police were arresting women who wore the veil and forcibly removing it." This policy outraged the Shi'a clerics, and ordinary men and women, to whom "appearing in public without their cover was tantamount to nakedness." Many women refused to leave the house in fear of being assaulted by Reza Shah's police. However, she continues, "this move was welcomed by Westernized and upperclass men and women, who saw it in liberal terms as a first step in granting women their rights." However, for regular, non-activist women, it amounted to torture and desecration of their religion and themselves. A few even committed suicide.
Beginning in 1980, a year after the revolution, the new government of Iran began to enforce wearing of hijab
Hijab
The word "hijab" or "'" refers to both the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general....

, but not the niqab
Niqab
A niqab is a cloth which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of sartorial hijāb...

 (face veil). Iranian morality police enforced the hijab laws. The code was enforced most strictly in the years immediately following the revolution. With the cooling of revolutionary enthusiasm and increasing popular disenchantment with the theocratic regime, the rules of hijab have been largely eroded, in many ways only being a technicality among some women, who wear headscarves so far back on their heads it barely covers it, and often combined with makeup.

See also


  • Burqa
    Burqa
    A burqa is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic religion to cover their bodies in public places. The burqa is usually understood to be the woman's loose body-covering , plus the head-covering , plus the face-veil .-Etymology:A speculative and unattested etymology...

  • Cowl
    Cowl
    This article is about the garment used by monks and nuns. For other uses, see Cowl or Cowling .The cowl is an item of clothing consisting of a long, hooded garment with wide sleeves. Originally it may have referred simply to the hooded portion of a cloak...

  • Hijab
    Hijab
    The word "hijab" or "'" refers to both the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general....

  • Niqab
    Niqab
    A niqab is a cloth which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women as a part of sartorial hijāb...

  • Women in Iran
    Women in Iran
    Iranian women in this article refers to women of, or from, traditional Persian or modern Iranian culture.-Depictions and appearance:...