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Culture & Art

Hand-made Kurdish clothing a dying tradecraft

By Rudaw 9/10/2018
Video: AP

The traditional male Kurdish clothing known as the shal and shepik is becoming less common with the younger generations — used ceremonially and not on a daily basis like with the older generation.

"Shal and shepik is old Kurdish traditional clothing, used by our father and grandfathers and we are very proud of it," salesman Jamil Nuri Rustem told Associated Press.

For many Kurds it is part of their identity — clothes meant for the rugged Zagros Mountains where Kurdish freedom fighters waged decades-long armed struggles against their oppressors.

Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), routinely wears his for official diplomatic events — always the Peshmerga. 

"This old and well-known dress becomes like an identity for the Kurds. If you wear them and wherever you go, no one will ask your ID, because your dress will show that you are a Kurd," explained Rustem.

However, sales are declining, according to Rustem. Making the cloth by hand is time consuming.

Fabric manufacturer Zeiya Audishu Dawoud from the Barwari area north of Duhok explains.

"Each costume needs about a month, because the required work is very difficult," he said. "The woman needs a long time to clean and combine the wool, along with spinning.

The fabric is traditionally khaki or gray colored, but can by dyed blue or green. 

Costs vary from $1,500 at the high end to $600-800 in the middle, while some choose polyester imports which may only cost a few hundred dollars.

"Approximately 20 days are needed to produce the one kilo of wool that is enough for one costume, and then the manufacturing here in the factory also takes five to six days to make them. Then it will be finished here," added Dawoud.

Can Kurdish clothing survive the 21st century or will it fade away into history?


Riha | 9/10/2018
Kurds seems to have an inferiority complex against the Western world so it wont surprise me if it disappears. They look up against Westerners, against their so called democracy, values and the degenerate state the West is in at the moment.

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