A deel (Mongolian: дээл [teːɮ]; Buryat: дэгэл) is the traditional clothing commonly worn for many centuries among the Mongols and other nomadic tribes of Central Asia, including various Turkic peoples, and can be made from cotton, silk, or brocade.
It is still commonly worn outside major towns, and especially by herders. In urban areas, deels are mostly only worn by elderly people, or on festive occasions. The deel appears similar to a caftan or an old European folded tunic. Deels typically reach to the wearers knees and fan out at the bottom and are commonly blue, olive, or burgundy, though there are deels of most colors.
The deel looks like a big overcoat when not worn. Instead of buttoning together in the middle, the sides are pulled against the wearers body, right flap close to the body with the left covering. On the right side of the wearer are typically 5 or 6 clasps to hold the top flap in place. There is one clasp below the armpit, three at the shoulder, and either one or two at the neckline.
A deel is usually worn with a large belt, usually made of silk. The area between the flaps and above the belt creates a large pocket in which Mongolians keep many things, Mongolian men will occasionally even carry entire handles of vodka in their deel. Though there is no major difference in material or outline between male and female deels, females tend to wear the 'pocket' closer, while males may have both larger pockets, looser fit, and wider sleeves.
In Mongolia, the usage of the word has been extended to cover other long winter coats as well. For example fur and leather overcoats of western design are referred to as "nekhii deel" and "sawkhin deel" respectively, meaning "fur deel", "leather deel" and "cashmere deel", which is made of the luxurious material cashmere.Nevertheless, other Mongol regions, such as Bortala in Xinjiang retain the specific meaning of the word "deel" as the traditional garment, and refer to other overcoats as "olondoi".
Deel design varies among cultures, ethnic groups and time periods to a certain degree. There are even distinct variations among different Mongol tribes mostly on the design of the upper chest opening edges. For instance the Khalkha Mongol deel opening edges are round while a Buryat deel's is square. It can also vary among other tribes such as Chakhar, Torguud, and Ujumchin. Deels are designed for different occasions and environments. The design also varies due to function. There are deels for ceremonies like weddings and holidays and deels for daily wear. Deels for special occasions have their outer layer made of silk while the common deels are usually made up of cotton and other relatively inexpensive materials.