CLOTHES AND BEAUTY IN UZBEKISTAN

UZBEK CLOTHES

Uzbek clothes are often made of cotton and women’s clothes in particular feature a blending of colorful stripes and patterns and are made with shiny silk and cotton ikat (cloth handwoven into simple patterns). Uzbek men wear buttonless robes reaching the knee, with oblique collars and the right side of the front on top of the other. The robe is tied with a triangular embroidered girdle. Women wear broad and pleated dresses without girdles.

According to advantour.com: Uzbek national clothes are very bright, beautiful and cozy. Uzbek clothes are a part of rich cultural traditions and life style of Uzbek people. In urban places it is uncommon to see people in traditional Uzbek clothes, except during traditional festivities and holidays. But in rural places they are still a part of everyday life. [Source: advantour.com]

Uzbek men usually wear leather boots and overshoes with low-cut uppers. Women's embroidered boots are very beautiful and unique in design. Traditional women’s footwear consists of mahsi (ichigi – nice heelless step-in boots with a soft sole), and high boots made of rough leather or rubber. These boots are very warm and useful doing outdoor chores and are still quite popular even today. [Source: China.org. Advantour]

Some Central Asian clothing styles feature large patterned coats and heavy accessories. In the late 1990s, fashion designers such as John Galliano and Kenzo Takada released collections that were influenced by the clothes of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

Some clothes are designed for everyday wear and some are designed for special occasions. In the Soviet era, the richly-colored and patterned locally made cloth of Central Asia was in many cases replaced by dull, utilitarian Soviet-made cloth. Many skilled textile makers worked on collective farms and had to produce traditional textiles secretly. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union there has been rebirth of traditional textiles and crafts as the Central Asian nations have strived to re-establish their identity.

Uzbek Men’s Clothes

Uzbek men have traditionally worn loose-fitting cotton coats ( khalats) or heavy quilted coats ( chopans). These are sometimes decorated with pastel colors and sequins, tied with a colorful sash that holds a dagger. These are traditionally worn with dark-colored trousers and black boots. The collars, front openings and sleeves of men's shirts are trimmed with colorful, patterned lace, which is typical of the handicraft art of the ethnic group.

Traditionally-dressed Uzbek men wear a white shirt embroidered on the collar and cuff, and a robe. There are two types of robe: one robe are buttonless and embroidered on the collar margin and cuff; the other robe has no buttons or pockets and is similar to Uyghur "qiapan". It has an oblique collar and the right side of the front covers the left side. Uzbek men usually wear trousers. Sometimes they wear leather boots and overshoes with low-cut uppers. Triangle and embroidered waistbands are made of silk or cloth. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, kepu.net.cn ~]

According to advantour.com: The basis of national men’s suit is a chapan, the quilted robe, tied with a kerchief. Traditional men’s cap is tubeteika. Kuylak is the men’s straight cut undershirt. Ishton is men’s wide trousers, narrowed at ankles. Traditional footwear is high-boots, made of thin leather. Shirts were worn everywhere, but men from the Fergana Valley and Tashkent region wear a yakhtak, a wrap shirt. Both of these types were sewn from homespun cotton cloth and feature a moderate aesthetics in a form of a decorated miniature braiding- jiyak, stitched along the collar. Belts for gala dresses were normally very smart, made of velvet or embroidered, with silver figured metal plates and buckles. Everyday shirts are tied with long sashes. [Source: advantour.com]

Uzbek Women’s Clothes

Uzbek women have traditionally worn halats (calf-length tunic-like dresses with a turned up collar and long sleeves reaching to the wrists) and matching baggy trousers. They are usually made with ikat cloth and feature an array bright iridescent colors and psychedelic patterns that are unique to the Uzbeks. Women also wear a “Khant-Atlas” dress which can be worn with or without waistcoat and trousers and comes in short and long sleeve varieties. In the old days women wore horsehair veils that were so heavy they resembled tents.

Uzbek women are regarded as experts on adorning themselves. In spring and autumn, Uzbek women wear loose colorful pleated dresses, together with necklaces, bracelets, rings and other jewelry. In summer, Uzbek women like to wear silk shirts and dresses. The pleats on shirts and dresses of senior Uzbek women are large in number and loose in shape, with humble colors. However, the costume of the young Uzbek women is bright and colorful, with various patterns and figures embroidered over the breast. There are also some colorful pearls and paillettes decorated on their costume. In winter, Uzbek women like to wear overcoats made of fox fur. [Source: Chinatravel.com chinatravel.com \=/]

According to advantour.com: Traditional Uzbek women’s suit consists of plain khan-atlas tunic-dress and wide trousers. Holiday garments were made of satin fabric richly embroidered with golden thread. Women’s headdress consists of three elements: a skull-cap, kerchief and turban. An essential part of traditional holiday garments of Uzbek women are gold and silver jewellery: earrings, bracelets, necklaces. Surkhandarya women most of all prefer the colors of red nuance as a symbol of well-being. The embroidery pattern was chosen not by chance, it always had magic or practical function. One could judge about the owner’s social status by the patterns, though sometimes they bear other meanings. For instance, repeating geometrical pattern on the braiding was a something like an amulet Clothing of black or dark blue colors was not popular in any region of Uzbekistan due to a superstition. Sogdian patterns have preserved the traces of Zoroastrian influence. The colors in this region were chosen on the basis of the position in society. For example, prevailing blue and violet nuances in a woman’s dress showed her husband’s pride of place, while greenish motifs were frequently used by peasants and craftsmen. [Source: advantour.com]

The quinake, a broad pleated dress which is worn without a girdle, is common worn by Uzbeks in China women. Colored embroidery lace and decorating pearls are often added to the collars, front openings and cuffs of their shirts. These ornaments make display the Uzbek women's excellent embroidery skills. Sometimes, wear vests outside the quinake. Other embroidered shirts and western dress also are worn with various skirts.

Uzbek Headgear

Both men and women of Uzbek ethnic minority like wearing little colorful hats. There are many kinds of little colorful hats, such as the hats with edges, the hats without edges, hats with patterns on the top or around the hats. Skull caps with bright colored embroidery in unique patterns are often made of corduroy or black velvet. The patterns are usually in the form of flowers and geometric figures. The hats which the elderly wear have few patterns, or even no patterns at all. The little colorful hats are usually made of pleuche and corduroy, in the color of purplish red, blackish green, black and purplish red. Women sometimes wear scarves on top of their caps. Some Uzbek women wrap a long colorful hood around the little colorful hats. In the old days women wore horsehair veils that were so heavy they resembled tents. [Source: Chinatravel.com chinatravel.com \=/]

Both Uzbek men and women have traditionally worn four-sided skullcaps called tyubetevka, doppilar or dopy, usually embroidered in white. In the winter they sometimes wear fur hats ( telpeks). You can also see men wearing skullcaps, turbans and wooly atsrakhans.. Uzbek skullcaps are made of cotton cloth and velvet with bright designs The skullcaps worn by Uzbek women feature bright colored embroidery in unique patterns. Often they wear scarves over their hats and ornaments such as earring, necklace, jade hairpin along with them. When a mother places a skullcap on her son or daughter for the first she wishes him or her a long life, happiness and good health.

According to advantour.com: Headdress is one of the main elements in the traditional Uzbek clothing. The national headwear in many countries of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan is a tubeteika (skull-cap). Tubeteika is derived from the Turkic word “tubé”, which means “top, peak”. Tubeteika is worn by everybody: men, women, and children. Only elder women do not wear tubeteikas. Today it is uncommon to meet a man in the tubeteika in large cities, mainly it is an important element of holiday garments at family parties and religious celebrations. The common form of the Uzbek tubeteika is tetrahedral and slightly conical. Traditional men’s tubeteika is black and embroidered with a inwrought white pattern in a form of four “paprikas” and 16 miniature arches. An everyday tubeteika, “kalampir”, is one of the simplest and widely used cap, it’s importance must not be underestimated. This tubeteika is an essential attribute for some events even in the environment of a country-wide influence of the European culture. There are smart tubeteikas enriched with bright and colorful embroideries and patterns for special festival occasions. [Source: advantour.com]

Different Kinds of Uzbek Headgear

Each province, district and even individual villages in Uzbekistan has its own headgear design, along with symbols and floral design that intended to bring the wearer good luck. A stylized fish on a woman’s cap symbolizes her wish for lots of children. Ram's horns on a man’s cap provide strength and protection from the evil eye.

According to advantour.com: Each region of Uzbekistan has its own national headdress 'tyubeteyka' (in Rus) in height and pattern. Despite the wide range of variety it is considered that there are only six main schools of tyubeteyka embroidery in Uzbekistan: Fergana, Tashkent, Kashkadarya-Surkhandarya, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khorezm-Karakalpak. For special, festive cases there are smart tyubeteykas that are rich in bright and gold embroidery and patterns. [Source: advantour.com]

Men's caps from Samarkand are conical and has designs made from bright patches of color. Men's caps from the village of Baisun are wheel-shaped and have designs made with bead-like stitches. Women's caps from Tashkent are tent-shaped and have pretty designs of flowers. Men's caps from the village of Chust are tent-shaped and black with paisley designs.

Legend of Khan Atlas

There is an old story about a weaver named Atlas who tried to win the heart of princess with his work. After working so hard his hands were bloodied, and repeatedly being rejected, he decided to drown himself in a river, As he put his bloodied hands into the river a beautiful pattern emerged, with gold from the setting sun, green from the trees, blue from the reflected sky and red from the blood on his hands. Atlas decided to make this patten in his cloth. The princess saw the work and realized how much he loved her and married him.

Another version of this story caled the Silk of Kings goes: Once upon a time, the Khan of Margilan, who already had four wives, decided he wanted a fifth. He fell in love with the beautiful young daughter of a local artisan. The artisan did not want to marry off his daughter, and asked the Khan to change his mind. The Khan respected the artisan and his skill, and said he would consent to the man's wishes if he created something more beautiful and wonderful than his daughter in the course of one night. The artisan struggled with this throughout the night, and as morning broke, had not succeeded. |~|

At dawn, he sat by a stream, lamenting the loss of his daughter, when suddenly, reflected in the blue water he saw all the colors of sunrise, clouds, and a rainbow, and knew what he had to do. From this incredible vision, he created a silk that was unsurpassed in beauty and originality. He brought a piece of the fabric to the Khan. And the Khan could not help but agree that the fabric was more wonderful than the artisan's daughter, and agreed to rescind his marriage proposal. From this legend, the silk of the Fergana Valley received its name, "Khan-Atlas", or "Silk of Kings". |~|

Gold Teeth and Haircuts in Uzbekistan

uzbek Women have traditionally worn their hair long in plaits and braids. One or two braids indicates a woman is married, Three or more indicates that she is single. The higher the number of braids, it is said, the more beautiful a girl is.

Eyebrows that grow together over the bridge of the nose are considered attractive. Those that have this attribute often wear make-up to highlight the fact.

Women with gold teeth are a common sight in Uzbekistan. Men have them too but less so than women. It has traditionally been a sign of status. Pooja wrote in londondelhibyroad.com in 2010: “Most of the local people in Nukus and Khiva have gold teeth. One view I got on this was that the gold in the teeth is actually their savings ( local banks are not trusted too much). The other view was that its actually seen as decoration ( i.e. enhancing facial beauty).”

According to Wikipedia: “In certain regions of the world, especially in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet countries, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, gold teeth are worn as a status symbol, a symbol of wealth.[citation needed] Originally the most expensive historical dental prosthetic, these are sometimes now installed in place of healthy teeth or as crowns over filed-down healthy teeth.”

Miss Uzbekistan at Miss World Contest Called an Imposter

At the 2013 Miss World contest in Jakarta, Indonesia, a women named Rakhima Ganieva claimed she was Miss Uzbekistan but the Uzbekistan government said that it had never heard of her and labeled her an imposter. Ben Hoyle wrote in The Times, “The 2013 Miss World contestants have gathered in Indonesia and Miss Uzbekistan seems to fit right in: she's pretty, musical, sporty, loves to travel and wants to be a lawyer one day. There's just one problem: she's not Miss Uzbekistan. According to officials in Tashkent no such competition even exists there, a good reason why the country has never sent a representative to compete for the world title. [Source: Ben Hoyle, The Times, September 13, 2013 /*/]

“It is not clear how Rakhima Ganieva, 18, made it to Indonesia but she is on the official Miss World website, beaming and telling the world: "I really want to win." Her recent Facebook posts show her in various tropical settings hanging out with Miss Russia, Miss Ukraine and Miss Georgia as they prepare for the final on September 28. She says she is from "sunny Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan" and lists her hobbies as music ("classical as well as modern") tennis ("I lead a healthy lifestyle") and reading Chekhov, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy when she has free time. She is "very interested in the cultures and lifestyles of other countries" and has visited Russia, England, Azerbaijan, the United Arab Emirates and Cyprus. /*/

“In her video on the Miss World website, Ms Ganieva says that "this year I became a student at the University of International Diplomacy and Economy", although in her written biography she describes herself as a graduate of the Tashkent Professional College of Tourism, and says she plans to study law at university. Despite their best efforts, the Uzbek media can't work out who Rakhima Ganieva is, or what she's doing in Indonesia. Government officials have denied any knowledge of her. /*/

“When Radio Liberty's Uzbek service contacted the Uzbek Culture and Sports Ministry and the National Committee on Women, both said that they knew nothing about Ms Ganieva's participation in the contest. Gulnara Karimova, the President's daughter and sometime pop star, diplomat and businesswoman, chipped in on Twitter, belittling Ms Ganieva as a "Tajik-looking girl" who "appeared out of nowhere". The university she claimed to belong to, actually the University of World Economy and Diplomacy, had no record of her either. Mezon, a local news website, contacted the 10 leading modelling agencies in Tashkent and found that none of them had heard of Ms Ganieva, or of a Miss Uzbekistan contest.” /*/

Treye Green wrote in the International Business Times, “Uzbekistan officials say there has been no pageant held to select a Miss Uzbekistan, ever. But Ganieva’s biography on the organization’s site paints a totally different, but equally confusing picture. In her oral biography in her introductory video, Ganieva says she is a student at the “University of International Diplomacy and Economy.” In her written biography, however, she says she is a graduate of the “Tashkent Professional College of Tourism.”[Source: Treye Green, International Business Times, September, 14 2013 <^>]

“Adding to the bizarre story, the university she says she attends has no records of her or knows who she is, the Daily Mail reported. “Rakhima Ganieva never passed through any special selection process in Uzbekistan,” said Zhavlon Komolov, a representative of the Tashkent-based Pro Models modeling agency, although he did say Ganieva trained at the agency for a short time as a 15-year-old. “If there had been a process to choose a young lady for this competition, I can assure you that a much more beautiful model would have been chosen. I’m sorry that Ganieva is choosing to build a career on lies,” Komolov said. <^>

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated April 2016


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