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Thawb (Arabic: ثَوْب), also written thobe or tobe and also known as qamees (Arabic: قميص), is an ankle-length garment, usually with long sleeves. It is commonly worn in the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, neighbouring Arab countries, and some countries in East and West Africa. In Pakistan, the garment is popularly known as Kameez. Kameez is also the national dress of Pakistan. Izaar, salwar and lungi are typically worn underneath.
In Sudan, it refers to a woman's outer wrapped garment without sleeves in white or colourful modern designs.
Thawbs are usually white in summer and darker colors in the winter and colder days in the Arab Peninsula while in Pakistan, Thawbs are worn of many different colors. A popular Thawb/Kameez brand in Pakistan is named after Junaid Jamshed.
The word thawb is the standard Arabic word for 'a garment'. It is sometimes spelled thobe or thaub. It is a tunic, generally long. The word is used specifically for this garment in Arab states of the Persian Gulf and some areas in the south of Egypt. There has been some debate regarding the correct length of the thawb.
The word "kameez" also derives from the Arabic language for cover. It is sometimes spelled qamis and qameez. According to Wehr's A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic: " قميص qamīs means 'covering, cover, case, wrap'.
Prevalence and regional differences in names and use by gender
Middle East and North Africa
The thawb is commonly worn by men in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and other Arab countries bordering the Persian Gulf. It is normally made of cotton, but heavier materials such as sheep's wool can also be used, especially in colder climates in Iraq and Syria. The style of the thawb varies slightly among the various regions in the area. The sleeves and the collar can be stiffened to give a more formal appearance. Other names may be used for this garment. In Iraq, Kuwait, the Levant, and Oman, dishdasha is the most common word for the garment; in the United Arab Emirates, the word kandura is used. In Morocco, the sleeves tend to be much shorter so that the thawb may seem more like a long T-shirt and is locally called gandora. The neck also tends to be more open than in its Saudi counterpart and, along with the breast pocket, is often embroidered. It might also lack buttons altogether.
In Sudan, the term tobe is used to refer to women's outer garments. In her book Khartoum at night: Fashion and body politics in imperial Sudan, cultural historian Marie Grace Brown explained: "Meaning “bolt of cloth,” a tobe is a rectangular length of fabric, generally two meters wide and four to seven meters long. It is worn as an outer wrapper whenever women are outside their homes or in the company of unrelated males. The tobe’s origins date back to the late eighteenth century when prosperous merchants in Darfur clothed their wives and daughters in large swaths of fine imported linen, muslin, and silk as a sign of their wealth and prestige." In the context of urban culture in Sudan since the 1930s, new and often colourful styles of tobes became fashionable, as Sudanese women "expressed their growing opportunities and desires through fashion."
The traditional Palestinian woman's long tunic is also a thawb. This style originated in the early 19th century and is richly embroidered, with different colours and patterns signifying various aspects of the wearer's social position. Since the Nakba, or 1948 Palestinian exodus, the thawb has also come to represent Palestinian political identity.
Swahili coast of Kenya and Tanzania
|Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, Palestine||Hejazi Arabic, Najdi Arabic, Bahraini Arabic, Palestinian Arabic||Thawb (ثَوْب)|
|Levant, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Iran||Levantine, Iraqi, Khuzestani, Omani & Kuwaiti Arabic; Persian||Dishdāshah (دِشْدَاشَة)|
|Pakistan||Urdu, Balochi, Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki, Bruoshaski||Kameez (قمیض)|
|UAE||Emirati/Gulf Arabic||Kandūrah (كَنْدُورَة)|
|Upper Egypt, Libya, Chad & Sudan||Upper Egyptian, Libyan, Chadian, Sudanese Arabic||Jilābiyah (جِلَابِيَة)|
|Maghreb||Maghrebi Arabic, Berber||Djellaba (جِلَّابَة)|
|Greater Somalia||Somali||Jelabiyad (جلابياد)|
|Ethiopia||Amharic, Afaan Oromoo||Mudawwar (مدور)|
|Indo-Malay Peninsula||Indonesian, Malay||Jubah (جوبة)|
|Afghanistan||Dari, Pashto||Pērâhan (پیراهن)|
|Swahili Coast||Swahili||Kanzu (كانزو)|
A thawb is sometimes worn with a bisht (بِشْت), also known in other parts of the Arabian Peninsula as a mishlah (مِشْلَح) or ʿabāʾ (عَبَاء), meaning 'cloak'. It is usually worn in ceremonial occasions or by officials. A bisht is usually worn by religious clergy, but can also be worn in weddings, Eids, and funerals. It may indicate a status of wealth and royalty, or sometimes a religious position. It was originally manufactured in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and it is usually worn in Jordan, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula.
Rashida Tlaib, a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Michigan and the first Palestinian-American woman elected to that body, wore a thawb to her swearing-in ceremony on January 3, 2019. This inspired a number of Palestinian and Palestinian-American women to share pictures on social media with the hashtag #TweetYourThobe.
- Agal – Arabian headdress
- Hejazi turban
- Islam and clothing
- Shalwar Kameez
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expressed their growing opportunities and desires through fashion.
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