Traditional Ubek clothing
Uzbek clothing and its history
While walking in the Uzbek streets (at least outside Tashkent center areas), you will most likely notice the bright, distinctive clothes worn by both young and old ones. These colorful dresses have gotten their distinctive features through the history when Uzbek people interacted and merged with neighboring nations in an exchange that has lasted for more than 2000 years. Over time, unique local features of clothing got developed, each with their own symbology or religious significance. Archaeological sites, frescoes, terracotta figurines, miniature paintings illustrating ancient documents and the records of Silk Road pilgrims, all provide a fairly precise idea of the dresses worn by the ancestors of modern Uzbeks and have left traces of their evolution over the ages.
The development of clothing is closely linked with the rise of weaving and archaeological discoveries reveal that even two thousand years ago weaving was well-developed in this region. Frescoes in Afrasyab, Varakhsha and elsewhere, represent wealthy citizens dressed in silk kaftans while poorer people wore simple cotton dresses. There are also unique examples of ancient garments found in the Fergana Valley that tell the same story Discoveries include for example a long silk dress with a decoratively stitched hem and long slits up to the waist which women would have worn with a waistband or a scarf.
The girls’ dress was shorter, with flowers decorated on the hem, cuffs and breast area, while the boys’ costume featured a thigh-length silk shirt with a straight collar. Through the late Middle Ages, fabrics had developed significantly, with gold brocade and striped cotton emerging. The fine miniature paintings composed in Central Asia in the Middle Ages present valuable clues to the custom and costumes of the day as well. It clearly shows that a person’s dress reflected his or her religious, marital and social status as striped fabrics, for instance, were generally worn by the poorer sections of the population.
Doppi / Tubyeteika
Skullcaps are common all over Central Asia national headwear. It is one of the main elements in traditional Uzbek clothing. In Russian known as tubyeteika, it is derived from the Turkic word “tube’”, which means “top” or “peak”. Tubeteika is worn by almost everyone: men, women and children and only elder women do not wear this traditional skullcap.
Duppi is an Uzbek tubyeteika made of velvet or wool and is usually beautifully embroidered with silk or silver threads. Doppi is decorated with stylized floral motifs, which are worn almost universally to provide a religious as well as an ethnic marker. Traditional men’s doppi is black and embroidered with an inwrought white pattern in a form of four “paprikas” and 16 miniature arches. According to the person’s skullcup, you can identify from which region the person is from. Today in Uzbek Fergana Valley cities is still common to meet an older man wearing a doppi and riding bike.
Chapan is the most striking male attire of Uzbeks. The chapan is long-sleeved, knee-length or longer, and made from fabric with a variety of color stripes.
The bottom of the sleeves, center edges, hem, and neckline of the coat is sewn round with a decorative braid, which was believed to protect a person from evil powers. The wrap-around coat tied around the waist. Wearing two or more chapans at the same time was common in both winter and summer, and gave a man a certain prestige while showing the prosperity of the family.
Uzbek women's dress
Traditional Uzbek women’s set consists of plain khan-atlas tunic-dress and wide trousers. Holiday clothes are normally made of satin fabric and are richly embroidered with golden thread. Women’s headdress consist of three elements: a skull cap, kerchief and turban. The main part of traditional holiday garments of Uzbek women are golden and silver jewelry consisting of earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
The embroidery patterns of Uzbek women were never chosen by chance, it always had a magical meaning or a practical function. For instance, repeating geometrical patterns on the braiding was something like an amulet and clothing of black or dark blue colors was not popular in any region of Uzbekistan due to superstition.
More about Uzbek culture
Page updated 28.11.2022