With the advent of Islam, it is this traditional closed clothing that is recommended for women to wear in public places.
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Abaya is the traditional outerwear of Arab women. It is a thin soft, usually black, cape cloak, or similar to a loose dress. In the Arabian Peninsula region, these clothes, combined with sheila (shawl) and niqab (burqa), were popular with women for a very long time, even before AD and in the first centuries of our era, because of their convenience and versatility, like outerwear for the street in a hot climate.
Modern abaya “very strict rules”
City ladies – aristocrats wore such clothes in order to hide their face and body from the sun’s rays and keep their skin young and light, protecting them from tanning and pigment spots from the sun, as well as avoiding unwanted extraneous attention and looking, aristocrats did the same in Europe in the 17th-19th century, wearing hood caps and veil.
Rural and Bedouin women dressed differently, rather variously and brightly, instead of abai, they wear something like colored long robes, open in front and showing multi-colored dresses dressed under them, often tied with a belt, giving them the opportunity to shorten the length of clothes for ease of movement and work. Rural and Bedouin women wrap their heads with handkerchiefs made of denser cloth, not taking too much care that their hair is completely closed, and even leaving in sight looking loose hair or braided braids, but preferring to wrap their face with a handkerchief leaving only their eyes, about the same face is often covered by both rural and Bedouin men.
This similarity in the clothes of the rural and Bedouin population probably follows from the similar conditions of their vital activities, the need for frequent forced stay in the sun, wind and dust raised by him. And this once again proves that the black thin classical abaya, shawl and niqab is the invention of urban fashionistas and the choice of urban residents who are not burdened with work and the complexities of life. Bedouins and rural women adopted this style, gradually moving to cities. And rural and Bedouin women in their former habitat are not suitable for such clothes. It will not protect against dust storms, often found in the region, it only covers from the sun and extraneous looking. There were fewer such outsiders in the villages and in the parking lots of the Bedouin and they met much less often, and women felt quite free in terms of clothes, closing only by envying a stranger, or arriving in the city.
The city ladies of the Saudi peninsula and the near east gradually introduced black abai into fashion, abandoning bright finishes and mottled colors. They even before the famous Chanel, who came up with a small black dress, discovered the power of black, its depth, expressiveness, mystery, femininity and solemnity.
Abai fashion was changing.
For example, abai, dressing on the head, scythe, are very skewed, requiring a lot of fabric for sewing, and special rather complex designs, without sleeves, but allowing one stroke to hide everything, even hands, and not requiring shawls in the company, but easily combining with fabric, covering the face, probably appeared after the arrival of Islam in the region, their idea was precisely to hide all female attractions from the eyes of extraneous men. Such abai were sewn almost without decoration, any decoration of upper street clothes was considered inappropriate in people, their main decoration was expensive fabric and thin lace bandage on the upper edge, dressing on the head.
Such abai were popular 30-40 years ago, for sewing they used thin, soft, flowing, mainly silk fabric. They are still popular with older women, especially in the Gulf countries, Iraq and eastern Syria.
More modern abai models do not dress on their heads, but on their shoulders, the design is more similar to a dress with a kimono sleeve, clasping on buttons, sticks, or without a clasp for the entire length, like dresses, they began to perform color finishes on abai more often. Although urban women still prefer a minimum of color, and shine, choose single-tone embroidery, trim with one-tone or black braid and beads, considering excessive decoration and variegation inappropriate.
The Persian Gulf women, for the most part, are not urban in origin, but from the Bedouin, who became urban residents only 50-60 years ago, their motley clothes are not alien to them. Nevertheless, they prefer an abundance of colors in home and evening clothes, but not in abai.
Since the Gulf countries began to grow economically, well-known fashion designers have begun to work on abai models, creating perfect works of design art based on them.
Abai began to sew complex shapes, with a variety of colored inserts and embroideries, finished with rhinestones and stones. Foreign fashion designers cannot come to terms with the complete closure of the body and hair, the abai are noticeably narrowed, often in fashion magazines models see hair painted with a hy hand and details of clothes under the abaya. And young fashionistas more and more refuse strict religious prohibitions and allow themselves to follow the style,
Gradually, the Gulf countries began to dictate fashionable trends in other Arab countries, women’s magazines from the Emirates are sold in all Arab countries, many Arab families from move to the Persian Gulf because of the opportunity to find high-paying jobs there, and Bay Abai are taken to their homeland as a gift.
Entrepreneurial clothing manufacturers quickly picked up the fashionable trend and began to sew abai themselves under the bay, complex shapes, with an abundance of multi-colored decoration, rhinestones and colored inserts and embroideries, so that almost all young women who prefer closed traditional clothes changed into such motley abai. The methods of bandaging the handkerchief and shawl proposed by fashion designers are also increasingly found in different Arab countries.