Art And Culture

Baluch Women Showcase Needlework

Baluch Women Showcase NeedleworkBaluch Women Showcase Needlework

The dress worn by Baluch women is one of the most interesting aspects of Baluchi culture. It is of strong significance and holds a special place in Iranian culture and society. The loose garb worn with pants and embellished with sophisticated and colorful needlework includes a large pocket in front to hold their accessories. The upper part of the dress and sleeves are also decorated with embroidery, a form of artistry that is specific to the clothing of Baluch women.

Needlework is traditionally considered essential to the education of Baluchi girls. Now Jahan Gallery in Tehran is showcasing for sale the excellent needlework of 35 Baluchi women. The embroidery includes bodice, exquisite cuffs, trouser legs displayed on canvases. But the standout of the exposition is a one meter long tablecloth that has been crafted by Zeinab Nowruzi which took her a year to finish.

Another section of the exhibition is devoted to embroidery made by the late legendary needlework artist, Mahtab Nowruzi. She was the most celebrated needle worker in the whole of Baluchestan and passed away in 2012. She is mostly known for her court dresses now kept at Sa’dabad Palace museum in Tehran.

To an uninitiated viewer, all needlecraft may seem identical, but for the dressmakers, every single dress has its own nuances which make it different. Each embroidery pattern has its own appellation; pattern names such as ‘Peacock’, ‘Pearl’, ‘ Red Rose’, ‘ Hand on head’ and ‘Five leopards’ give an aura of mystery to the works.

 Long Hours

Nowruzi told Honaronline that tailoring each dress takes six or seven months if one works nonstop, but because women mostly work on them in between their housework, it usually takes longer.

Another feature of the show is the employment of variegated new colors in needlework. Nowruzi says that traditionally needlework is in either red or yellow threads, but in the present exhibition ‘modern colors like purple and green’ are also used. ‘’It’s just a matter of taste; some prefer classic colors and others like more ‘hipster’ colors; we intend to cater to all tastes here,’’ she says.

She notes that the dresses are “exquisite and fancy” types worn only on special occasions. Another interesting point is that there are no preliminary sketches for the patterns and Baluchi women do their work ‘intuitively’ with no ready pattern. Nowruzi says that the main problem facing their art comes from Afghanistan. ‘’Afghan works are hastily prepared and therefore of low quality, but because they are cheaper, they sell more,’’ she says. The Afghans have also simplified the designs at the cost of discarding older and more intricate patterns, she said.

The colorful and opulent ornamentation of Baluch dress may be a response to the harsh environment in which they live. Embroidery is worked in strictly compartmentalized repeat geometric and angular designs; stylistic differences in the patterns and colors reflect different geographical areas within the province. The motifs may be stylized versions of flowers and plant forms. In contrast to the women, men traditionally wear sober white clothing consisting of long, very loose shirts over extremely full trousers which fall between the legs in folds and taper only at the ankles.