Middle Eastern Garb "Dont's"
Personal note: I'm pretty certain that somewhere along the line I've done each one of these "don'ts" myself on my quest to wear period Middle Eastern garb! Hopefully others can learn from my journey! Also, remember, this list is for those who want to go totally period with their pre-1600's West Asian persona (or to at least give it a good try.) If you aren't concerned with being totally period, or want to wear any of the items listed here anyway, go for it. It's your choice. There are a few times when I don't wear period garb either. This happens especially at Pennsic at night, where I am requested to come out and dance in people's encampments. They ask for the "tribal" look, not the period garb, because they want a certain type of entertainment, not an A&S exhibit. So I strive to make them happy in those situations. I also have a group of friends that likes to go out and party at Pennsic, and remembers when I used to wear the "fun" stuff. The period stuff, no matter how I explain it, it just plain out boring to them. So everything, even the fantasy garb, has its appropriate place.
This list is not intended to criticize or dictate garb to anyone, it's just a group of suggestions. Enjoy.
Sequin, beaded, and other "belly dance" clothing
Don't wear sequined or beaded night-club type belly dancing costumes...the beaded bra-top and beaded dance belt ensembles with the chiffon veils, skirts, and harem pants, typical "cabaret" attire you see in the restaurants. Yes, they are really, really, pretty. However, these did not become popular until right before the 20th century.
I know, I know, there are paintings and very old photos with lovely ladies wearing these or similar outfits. But look at the dates, folks. They are all from the late 19th century. That time period is not in the scope of the Society. And we can't just assume and speculate that they wore the same exact thing centuries before...that's just not good historical scholarship, not when you want to create something very authentic to the time period.
Don't wear any type of garb or jewelry that is some other kind of typical "belly dancing" garb or "middle eastern dance garb" not mentioned above. This was not done until the 1800's. Most period dancers did not have too different of a clothing style to everyone else, as dancing was a social activity performed by everyday people at parties, weddings, etc. If there were designated dancers, they wore clothing of a lower class, usually shorter coats, fewer layers, etc. But NOT lower cut clothing, more see-through clothing, etc. There were some dancers that might have been courtesans, but they would not have been dressed in a manner, publically, that would have been considered lewd. (Too much cleavage exposed, etc.)
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Genie and Fantasy costumes
Don't wear genie-type costumes. Some Middle Eastern cultures did believe in djinn (genies) but they did not dress like them.
Don't wear fantasy-type clothing; such as Elven costumes, Disney character interpretations (Jasmine,) Cosplay outfits, etc, as these are not related
to true Middle Eastern garb at all.
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Do not wear obviously modern fabrics for your garb, such as metallic lames, sequins, animal prints, "ethnic" prints, etc.
Striped fabric is not the ONLY fabric for pre 1600's Middle Eastern garb! Be creative! Stripes were usually worn by the lower classes. And, just because someone wears stripes, it does not mean they are only from one culture, such as Turkish. (Persians and Egyptians wore stripes too, for example) Consider other fabric choices...solids, florals, some oriental "brocades" (especially for Persian) and block-printed designs.
Be careful of the weight of some fabrics. There are very heavy upholstery fabrics that have great designs, but are often too heavy for period-looking garb. A lot of the fabrics worn in the Middle East were much thinner than one would think. Of course, this depends on the culture, just don't choose a fabric that's so stiff or heavy you can barely move, or makes you sweat to death.
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Don't wear chainmail bras, jewelry, or headpieces. Although they are really cool, they are not period. Mail was mostly worn as armor, not adornments. A very dear friend of mine makes chainmail jewelry, and used to sell it in the booth I had in the past at Pennsic. He also knows that what he does is not period, and he caters to the fantasy crowd, and not those who are going for the period look. That is fine! Actually, his work is really awesome, I own a lot of his pieces, and wear it a lot outside of the SCA,(I even wore it when I got married) but I don't wear his work with my Middle Eastern garb, because they are strictly fantasy. So please do
not email me to tell me that I only am saying chainmail bras are not period because I don't like them. :o)
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Coin Belts, Clothing, and Jewelry
Don't wear coin jewelry, belts, or other clothing. There are no true examples of this in period.
There is one very early Persian tile that looks as though two dancing girls, pouring wine while performing, are wearing coin belts. ("Wall Painting," Jausay al-Kahaqani Palace, Samarra, 836 AD, from "Islamic Art and Architecture," Robert Hillenbrand, Thames and Hudson, 1999, p 47) This is the main reference used in the coin argument. The problem is, the only parts of the tile that are actual surviving period pieces are tiny shards, and it's NOT the parts with the coined sashes! The rest of the tile was reconstructed in the 1920's, including, like I said, the coin part...it was completely made up. So, this can obviously not be used for garb documentation.
Yes, coin jewelry was worn in ancient Greek, Roman and other Mediterranean cultures - but that is not what we are discussing here.
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Tribal Wear, tassel belts, etc.
Don't wear tassel belts or "tribal" type gear. Unfortunately, these are not period either. Most tribal pieces are not more than 100 years old, and the average age is 50 years old. (I collect tribal pieces myself) The "tribal" look that has become so popular in the SCA comes from many different cultures fused together, some being period, and some not.
And, to quote a dear friend of mine about tassel belts; "Camels wear tassels, not people." Now, remember we are talking about pre-1600's Middle Eastern garb. They did wear tassels in other cultures, and in other time periods, (beyond the 1600's, I mean) as parts of head dresses, etc. (such as Mongol, Chinese, etc.) I have never found an example of people wearing tassels in period Middle Eastern artwork, other than on a pouch, the end of a braid case, or occasionally a small one on period-style jewelry.
The tribal style actually was created by an American belly dancing group on the West Coast in the 20th century, and called the "American Tribal Style," or ATS. It was never meant to be a historically accurate look, they perform on a modern stage and in nightclub venues. There are real tribal people in the Pre-1600's period, such as the Bedouins, and Persian tribal peoples (Herati, Bukhari) to name a few. But they did not dress anything like the well-known "tribal" style.
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Belts, decorations, and hanging "stuff"
Do not wear any type of "stuff" hanging off your belt if you are portraying a lady. Men (I have noticed this especially in Persian garb, but then, that is my area of expertise) do have nifty things like intricate pen cases, SMALL knives, (and I mean small...there is nothing worse than having a huge fantasy scimitar hanging from your sash with period garb) silk scarves, prayer beads, etc, hanging from their belts. But hanging a bunch of "jiggly" stuff (cups, mugs, bells, collections of site medallions, silverware, daggers, etc, etc.) is very much a "Ren Faire" thing, not a "period" thing at all. If you're going to hang stuff from your sash/belt, do it with authenticity in mind, not stuff-to-make-jiggly-noise in mind.
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If you are going for a truly "period" look, the popular fantasy "gypsy" look (also called Romany) is NOT the way to go. Unfortunately, we do not have a great deal of evidence as to what they wore in the pre-1600's period. We do have plenty of documentation for gypsy garb from the 18th and 19th centuries, but as I stated above, all clothing styles change greatly over time. These would not be good sources for the period pre-1600's gypsy. Here is a small bit of information on period pre-1600's Romany garb. Click on this for more details. You will see that period Romany garb has very little to do with Middle Eastern garb. That actually
makes sense, considering in has been discovered that the Rom migrated from parts of India, not the Middle East.
I once talked, or rather argued, with a lady about what she perceived as "Gypsy" garb. She refused to use the word "Rom" or "Romani," telling me these terms are the ones that are insulting to people of this culture. (which is incorrect, in fact, it is the opposite that is true) She wanted to know what was period for "Gypsies," she claimed, but was uninterested in any artwork from pre-1600's that portrayed them, saying it too was incorrect. She stated that it was unknown what Gypsies wore in pre-1600, so (basically) she wore something that she had conjectured from a mixture of 1800's clothing, modern tribal clothing, etc. I asked her, if one
refuses to accept any artwork from the time period portraying this culture, and there is no other information, how does she know something is correct or incorrect? You have to start somewhere. You can't use the lack of information out there as a licence to, in a nutshell, wear whatever you like wearing, if you truly want to be period. If you want to wear a particular kind of clothing that you have in mind that's not documented, fine. But don't try to argue that it's period when you really have no idea.
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Funny garb myths and other notions
Don't buy into weird SCA Middle Eastern garb "rules" about things without finding hard evidence to back it up.
This is my favorite example..."Don't wear red pants unless you are a portraying a prostitute." I have NO idea where that came from, I can't find any real historical evidence for this anywhere. Or here's another: "Wearing a bell means you're a slave." (there is actually an SCA household that started this tradition, but it was never meant as anything period...it's funny that it has evolved into that!)
As with anything else, if you have historical evidence for these things, please let me know!
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Don't wear bare-midriff clothing, or chemises and coats that are open enough in the front to show a bare belly. I have not seen any examples of ladies ever showing their midriffs. Usually, Middle Eastern garb is in several layers, and is quite covered.
I saw a live journal recently (that linked this page, no less) where somebody said that the statement of bare bellies not being period in the Middle East is a myth!!!...HUH??? I'd like to know where that idea came from, I really would. (More SCA myths being perpetuated...) People just didn't walk around uncovered like that in the Middle Eastern lands...no matter who claims they did. Belly dancers, even with the netted body suits, are well out of our period, people! Sorry, I try to be patient, but I start to get a little erked after a while. :o) Look at the miniatures, look at extent clothing, read period accounts, read the Hadith (narrations of the Prophet, which include tenets for dress.) People were required to dress conservatively, that's the fact.
I know, I know, some people want SO much to show off their bellies. Cool, if that's your choice. But please (I'm begging you!) don't make any claims about clothing that just aren't true and have no proof of (plus turn around and claim that the truth about period clothing is "myth!" That really upsets me...)
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When I mention the no bare-midriff point, a lot of people are quick to point out cholis. Some good people out there have even emailed
me and sent me links on cholis, Indian clothing, Indian culture, etc.
For those of you who do not know, a choli is the short, bare-midriff top worn Indian ladies wear with a sari, the long wrapped skirt and shawl type garment. Sometimes
it is worn with American tribal (ATS) dancewear all by itself, with a skirt and tassel belt. (See the entry on tribal wear.)
Yes, I agree cholis are period. But no, they are not appropriate for Middle Eastern garb. Cholis were worn in India, which is not a
country and culture associated with the Middle East. India and the Middle East are often lumped together in the SCA mind, but they really shouldn't
Please check the first section (light yellow) which outlines the countries and cultures are addressing, and please note that India is not one of them.
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Don't wear little vests with light, thin chemises underneath. (Or a little vests with no chemise, for that matter.) This is a style that dates to the 1800's.
Don't wear other types of embroidered vests or other types of vests as outer clothing. This is a stereo-typical Middle Eastern clothing style, but it was not done until at least
the 18th century, well beyond the pre-1600 time period.
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Do not go with your head completely uncovered! All pre 1600's Middle Eastern garb includes head gear of some type, unless the figures in the miniatures are bathing, mourning,(in some cases) or in a private scene. Like I always say, "wear the garb, WEAR THE HAT!!!" There's nothing more disappointing than seeing beautifully done garb with the wrong headpiece or no headpiece at all.
Do not wear the Kaffiya, this is a modern head dress. For those of you who do not know what this is, this is that dish-rag looking head covering (sorry if that sounds disrespectful, I couldn't think of any other description!) that you see men in Saudi Arabia and other countries with men of Arab decent wearing (they wear them in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, etc, too) with a black cord wrapped around it like a headband to hold it on. Yassir Arafat used to wear one. Kind of like the Biblical shepherd look.
Oh, and people go on and on about colors and their meanings with this one too...it doesn't matter...the whole head dress is completely modern.
Don't wear headbands called Agals. These range from the black cord mentioned above, to colored types with tassels and gold accents. These are not period at all, and weren't worn until
the late 19th century.
Do not wear turbans if you choose to dress as a lady. Remember, men often appear to be very feminine to our eyes in Islamic art. Yes, that is correct, I am saying that women DID NOT wear turbans. You can holler, scream, and tackle me down at the next event you see me at if you like, but that�s history, folks, I�m sorry! (you think I'm joking...you have no idea how many nasty emails I get over this stuff!!)
I wish it weren�t true for the ladies because turbans are very cool. But if you wear a turban and your persona is a lady, well, you�re not dressing as a lady, you're dressing as a guy, it�s as simple as that. And let me point out again, if you didn't catch it earlier in this article, just so no one gets confused, I dress like a man, and was elevated as a Master, which is why you might see some pictures of me in turbans. Many people keep sending me pictures they think are ladies wearing turbans, and they are not...they are men. A lot of times you can tell by the title of the painting, by what the person is doing in the picture, by what they are wearing (there are some other things women don�t wear that are also dead give-a-ways, etc.) There are a few paintings of women playing instruments in Turkey that look like they are wearing turbans, but they are not. These are actually a muffin-type cap.
Out of period, women started wearing turbans (18th century- 19th century, etc) But for our period? Nope.
Please don't email me and argue about these points unless you have solid documentation. It really starts to upset me when I get a nasty email from somebody I don't even know, and they have no proof to back up their claim, other than, "my friend told me about this book. I haven't seen the book myself or read it, but..." Give me real proof, not nasty emails, please, I'm begging you!
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Harem pants, side-slit pants, etc.
Do not wear pants that are gathered at the ankle, like a genie. These are often called harem pants, and they are well out of our
Also, do not wear harem pants that are split on the sides to reveal the legs. These were not worn until the 20th century as a part of
belly dancing wear.
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Do not wear a coat, chemise or other garment that ties at the bust line, halter style. These are garments that were never worn in the period
Do not wear modern halter tops as part of your ensemble, they do not resemble, even from a long distance, any type of garment worn in pre-1600's Middle East.
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Do not wear a garment known as the "Ghawazee (or gawazee) Coat." This garment, as it appears in patterns such as "Atira's Fashions"
and the like, NEVER EXISTED. Yes, that's right, you heard me, I just said the beloved Ghawazee coat that so many people have been creating for over
30 years now in the SCA never existed and is historical nonsense. What you have here is one of the biggest myths and fallicies ever perpetuated (I feel)
in historical clothing. It has created huge misunderstandings among those interested in pre-1600's Middle Eastern garb, not to mention ingraining a certain look into the minds of many people.
The "Ghawazee Coat" is a pattern, presented by Atira's Fashions. "Turkish Dancer" by Folkwear is another similar pattern. The same look is often imitated by many do-it-yourself seamstresses who drafted their own pattern. It is a modern pattern adopted from looking at paintings from the 1800's. It is not anymore historically correct than picking up a pattern from Simplicity. As we know, modern pattern companies just, for the most part, don't "get it." They are nothing more than costumes, not true historical clothing. Not to say that there aren't a lot of good historical pattern companies out there...one, for example, called Reconstructing History, has excellent patterns for Middle Eastern garb.
There is a pattern on this website called a "Persian Joba." This is not a "period version" of a Ghawazee coat. There are people who have downloaded this pattern and have asked me if this is the "period way" to make a coat of the style they are thinking of in their heads. Let me point out here that the Joba is not anything like a Ghawazee coat. The Joba is an outer garment that is very similar in function to a cloak. It is very rarely, if at all, buttoned up and used as a main coat.
The coats that the ladies from the Egyptian Ghawazee tribe (an 18th/19th century tribe, which is not pre-1600's, for starters) wore were the same cut as the Turkish Entaris of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Obviously, this is STILL not a garment that people who are interested in authenticity should be wearing, as it is not period in any shape or form. And boy, will a lot of people complain, rant, and want to burn me at the stake for mentioning this one. :o) However, if you like this look, and want to wear it anyway, you are much better off searching for Entaris from the 1700's or 1800's, and drafting a pattern from it. At least it is a historically documented garment, rather than one that is made up from guesswork.
There are period coats or kaftans that were worn in the pre- 1600's in the Middle East that might look similar to a Ghawazee Coat upon first glance, (such as the pictures of Persian coats elsewhere on my website)
but please understand that they are actually very, very different garments. They have a MUCH different cut and fit. People have contacted me and explained that they swear they are seeing paintings from the 1500's with women wearing Ghawazee coat-like garments. Trust me when I say that they are NOT. If you examine actual period garments, you will discover that they are not even remotely the same.
Keep in mind, even though you might be wearing a period coat, people will STILL call it a Ghawazee Coat out of old SCA habit. It happens to me. Some people still call my Persian coats
Ghawazee Coats anyway EVEN after they learn differently, and at that point I just have to take a deep breath and remember that old habits die hard! :o)
Differences between the Ghawazee Coat and Period Coats
Since many people have asked me what the difference between the two is, I've created a list to outline them. Understand that these are not laid-in-stone rules, Ghawazee patterns vary depending on who made them.
The Ghawazee coat is usually patterned with curved arm holes - some of the homemade types drafted by do-it-yourself-ers are more geometric in an attempt to make the Ghawazee coat "period."
The Ghawazee coat usually has a tight, elbow-length sleeve with a tab hanging from the back (sort of like a tipit) or the sleeve is split to the elbow. (Something that pretty much started in the 17th century...which is out of period.)
The Ghawazee coat most often has a very low, deep cut square neckline, (or sometimes a deep triangle) low enough (or nearly low enough) that one needs a chemise.
The Ghawazee coat is fitted with curving side seams to achieve a close fit.
The Ghawazee coat is mostly patterned with princess seams, containing a front, side front, side back, and back to the construction.
The Ghawazee coat is usually buttoned from the waist or hipline up to the breast line, stopping there.
The Ghawazee coat is very often split on the side seams, from the bottom hem to the hipline, for dancing purposes.
Period coatsPeriod coats have straight armholes, the sleeves and the main body of the pattern being rectangles.
Period coats have either long sleeves, or short ones with another coat (or chemise/goomlek for Turkish) underneath that has long sleeves.
Very few period coats have square necklines. In fact, the only evidence for a a square neckline existing at all on period coats is one Stucco sculpture from the 13th century, but it is a high square neckline that barely goes past the collarbone. Period coats also do not typically have extremely deep necklines. Necklines are usually cut
in a shallow scooping style, or a slight v. There are Turkish extants that are cut in a little bit of a deeper v, but not to the
bust line. Some Persian paintings look like they are deep "v" or scooped necklines, but they actually are not. This is the artist's attempt at showing that the coat is left open to the breast line.
Period coats are geometric patterns. All of the seams, save the neckline, (and sometimes the hem) are straight lines. They are patterned in a central
rectangle with triangular or trapezoidal gores on the sides for fitting and fullness.
Period coats (notice I'm not mentioning tunics...that's a different story) have straight side seams, with maybe a slight curving under the armpit if it is a Turkish coat, which has no gussets under the arms. There is a type of garment from the
Persian Sassanid period that has curved princess-like back seams. But this would never be confused with a Ghawazee coat.
Period coats have buttons all the way up to the collarbone, or frogs. If the neckline is a v, there might be a slight bit less of them, but they still go to the collar. For women, the coats
are left unbuttoned to the bust line, or they are made so tightly that they must be pulled under the busts to button them. The unbuttoned top portion is what confuses
people and makes them think it is a Ghawazee.
Period coats may have a slight split at the side seams, but it is only a few inches.
A period coat follows extent garment patterning and period paintings. Ghawazee coats do not. They were originally patterned after 18th and 19th century paintings done by Europeans, and have
since been taught and passed around throughout the SCA as a period Middle Eastern pattern when it is not.
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Ancient Egyptian Regalia
Do not wear garb or jewelry that denotes the Ancient Egyptian religion (ankhs, etc.) This is well out of the scope of the SCA. Egypt was part of the Islamic world in period, and had no knowledge of its ancient beliefs, not even in an "underground" sense, meaning people weren't practicing an older religion behind closed doors.
There are quite a few people who continue to argue this with me, and I don't know why. If you like mummies, Bast, and King Tut, then do an ancient Egyptian persona. :o) Don't mix Islamic (or any other religion) and Ancient Egyptian together. It's too visually confusing and it just doesn't work.
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Do not wear an excessive amount of jewelry...try to emulate what is worn in the miniatures. You simply do not see people in the period paintings bedecked in tons of coined necklaces and tasseled this and that draped all over their bodies�in fact, you don�t see them wearing coins and tassels at all, but that�s another story...
Jewelry should be simple and dignified...pearl chokers, jeweled earrings, finely crafted gold rings and bracelets, instead of the "chunky" type stereotypical jewelry you often see.
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Music and Dance Choices
Don't use modern "belly dancing" styles of music for dance or entertainment. Although there are claims to modern belly dancing styles being "ancient," this has not been truly documented. There are period forms of Oriental dance that are somewhat similar to belly dancing, and this is certainly where belly dancing originated from. But, modern and period styles of dance are also, in many ways, very different.
Studies in the period dances of the varying Middle Eastern cultures is fun, interesting, challenging, and well worth the effort. Again, this is not a garb "don't," but if you are trying to be more period in your portrayal of pre-1600's Middle Eastern culture, why not go all the way, right?
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Leather and fur
Don't wear leather or fur bras, or any bra for outer wear. Kind of reminds me of the Seinfeld episode. :o)
Do not wear animal tails, ears, or anything else that protrays a mythical person-beast. If we are trying to create period clothing, dressing like an animal is out.
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Miscellaneous incorrect garment choices
Do not wear a caftan or coat that is cut underneath your breasts. This is an incorrect interpretation of a period style. The actual (Turkish) garment is made VERY, very tight, so tight in fact, that it must be (in some cases) pulled under the bust (or at the bust) to button it. The rest of the buttons going up to the neckline are left open.
Don't wear modern tourist caftans, or modern caftans or other accessories worn in the Middle Eastern lands today. Styles have changed since period times. It's so funny - I get emails from people who live in these countries, laughing and saying, "it's about time people recognized that we have fashion history like the rest of the world!"
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Do not wear make-up that does not go with the West Asian culture you choose to represent, such as Moroccan tattoos (the little dots) with Persian-style coats.
Do not wear body adornments or decoration that do not go with the Middle Eastern culture and time period you are portraying, such as bindis (which are Indian) or body glitter and
paint (which is modern)
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Pirates, Vikings, and Japanese, oh my!
If you want to portray period clothing, do not adopt a style of dress that "borrows" from everywhere. This just didn't happen, no matter
how many countries your persona visited on their travels. There is plenty of documentation that shows, for example, that Europeans dressed like
Europeans when visiting the Middle East.
If you have a nautical persona, or a pirate persona, (the European or New-World types) Middle Eastern garb of any sort is not appropriate for you. You would
have "picked up" things you could SELL (like gold, for one) not worry about how much your clothing "fits in" with a certain culture. Remember, if you're a seaman on
a respectable ship, you are WORKING, not looking for the next great exotic fashion discovery.
If you have a Norse (Viking) persona, you should dress in Norse clothing, not any Middle Eastern garb. There is no historical evidence, past some books that do not back up their theories, that Vikings wore garb
from "all over."
The same goes for merchants from all over the world...Japan, China, France, Belgium, etc. Just because you're a merchant doesn't mean you get to wear anything and everything all together. Research
some period merchants from paintings and writings instead. The things you find should be very interesting, and it will be fun to do!
As I mentioned above, do not dress as an Japanese Anime character if you'd like to portray something SCA-period. There are some characters that wear belly-dance sort of clothing, but as stated above, this
is fantasy, not period.
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Garb from movies, etc.
Don't use modern movies or books for your ideas on pre-1600's Middle Eastern garb. Even though I love "The Thirteenth Warrior," and Antonio Banderas looked scrumptous, his garb was not something that can be used as a model for period pre-1600's West Asian garb, unfortunately. There might have been a few elements that were so-so, but as a whole, the garb was very modern looking.
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Please don't tell people you are wearing period Middle Eastern garb unless you know 100%, without-a-doubt that it is, meaning you have period (pre-1600's) documentation to prove it. (not just a "trusted friend" telling you that it is...find out for yourself...it's really fun to do research on this, trust me!) To document garb correctly, it is advisable to have some extent (actual period pieces) to base your patterns off of if possible, some paintings from the actual culture (Turkish paintings of Turkish garb, for example) and period writings about clothing are good have as well, BEFORE you start.
Just make sure you have actually looked at the miniatures and have made a fair attempt...don't make the terrible mistakes I did! I remember telling people I had looked at "hundreds of miniatures"
when what I had really done is glanced at them and twisted my perception of them around to fit what I was doing. Don't waste the huge amounts of time and energy I did, trying to create something that just wasn't there, and wasn't real.
And, I just implore you to please, not tell people you are wearing period Middle Eastern garb if you don't know for sure. It's okay to tell people that you aren't sure if something is period...sometimes the most unlikely people might know somebody else who can REALLY help you a lot with your research...who would have guessed that a goofy "stick jock" named Gunther (now Duke Darius) that I occasionally saw and had a drink with at parties in my '20's, ended up marrying the one person that has influenced me and helped me the MOST in my Middle Eastern garb research? (Duchess Roxane!) So you never know! :o)
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If you choose to wear fantasy style, or belly-dancing style garb, that's OKAY. Often it's just too darn hot or impratical to wear 100% correct garb with all its layers...
and sometimes you just may not be in the mood! There's nothing wrong with that! Like I said before, I don't always wear period garb either! Just make sure you are not giving
people the false impression that what you are wearing is, in any shape or form, period if it isn't. Sometimes we may not be sure if something is period or not, and saying
"I don't know" is much better than leading someone who is really interested down the wrong route.
I wish that were the case when I started! People gave me patterns and taught
me how to make garb, and told me it was period, only to find out years later it was the SCA "Middle Eastern" myth being perpetuated. The people who gave me the patterns meant
well, they just didn't know any better either. Now, when I wear my tribal-style outfits to parties at Pennsic, or other places were I am not concerned about being period,
(Fairie festivals, Larp, etc.) I just make sure that I tell people that my garb is "really cool fantasy, I'm just having fun tonight" and is not SCA period, if they ask. Most
of the time people don't ask, and I don't worry about it. If people are interested, I often explain the "American Tribal" style, (ATS) and they are usually intrigued, and walk
away a little more educated! It's all in good fun, right? :o)
I used to get all funny about walking out of camp in my non-period garb. I've learned to relax and find a happy
medium, because there really is a time and a place for both.
Quick story: I actually HID from my King and Queen when they came into my encampment at Pennsic, because I was getting
dressed for a party, and I was all done up in my non-period tribal "schtuff." I just couldn't bear for them to see me like that. Little did I know they were looking for me. Well,
they were looking for other people in the camp to, but also for me. Well, the herald knew me personally and didn't call out my name because he didn't see me at my tent or bouncing
around camp...he assumed I was out- HA! I fooled them! Well, guess what? They wanted to give me an award for my dancing...and I dance in the tribal stuff. Basically, they wanted to
recognize me for the non-period stuff too. Mostly, because it makes other folks happy and helps them to have a good time at parties. End to the story...did I get my award? Yes, the
next day. But Roxane ended up giving it to me instead, she was the princess at the time. Which was cool also, it's not everyday a friend of yours is the princess.
So like I said,
there REALLY is a middle ground with all of this! Don't worry if other people don't know you are wearing pre 1600's Middle Eastern garb. There are so many pre-conceived notions, they
may not understand that your garb is, in fact, "Middle Eastern," or more correctly, West Asian, North African, Central Asian, etc. People have made all sorts of amusing guesses about my garb!
Once there was a lady who said to me, "So what is YOUR persona?" And I said, "I am a Safavid period Persian" She looked at me up and down and said, "Well...not really...not even close...you
look Chinese." Did I let that bother me? NO! I knew I had done my research. So instead of getting snippy, I handed her a book of some Persian miniatures (which I often have at events) and
she was intrigued. We ended up talking for a couple of hours. She decided to create a Persian persona for herself! It's so fun sharing information with others! I love happy endings!
Enjoy Wearing Real, Researched, and Period Pre-1600's Middle Eastern Garb! Good Luck!
P.S., if you would like to email me, click here. I don't even mind if you feel like hollering about me saying Ghawazee coats are not period, etc. just please, try to be nice. I love great conversations about garb, as long as they are great conversations, and not ridiculous ones, (like please don't email me and tell me something silly like, say, in period pirates were required to wear a black turban with a skull pin and a feather on it when sailing in the Gulf, because I probably won't email you back, I'll be too busy chuckling at the email!)
I also invite you to download the patterns available on my website to replace the old ones you've been using, now that you've found out they are not period. We will keep adding to this in the future. I will try to help you anyway I can, honestly, I will. :o) Peace.
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