What Do Jordanian and Palestinian Traditional Clothes Look Like?

Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Oscar O. Paquin

You may imagine vast deserts and camels galore images when you think of Jordan and Palestine. However, these countries are home to dynamic and vibrant cultures that have thrived for thousands of years. Their traditional clothing is no exception. That being said, the recent political climate has had a profound effect on their everyday attire. In recent times, both regions have experienced waves of conflict. As a result, their clothing has undergone many changes as people strive to retain their cultural identity in light of such challenging circumstances.

What is the Commonality between the Two Regions?

The commonality between the two regions is undeniable; they’re geographically close and share similar religions (Christianity and Islam), local traditions, and dress code elements. Yet, each culture possesses its distinct style of dressing that sets them apart from one another.

Jordanian Traditional Clothing

Jordan is a beautiful country situated in the heart of the Middle East. It’s a country where modern lifestyles intertwine with rich traditions, creating a fascinating melting pot. Jordanian garments are characterized by their vibrant colors, bold patterns, and intricate designs in terms of fashion.

Traditional clothing in Jordan has been heavily influenced by the desert landscape, making it a perfect choice for the country’s climate. Cotton fabrics are a popular choice for their breathability and durability in harsh weather conditions.

These fabrics are often decorated with sequins, embroidery, or beads for a luxurious effect. Women’s garments are typically long and loose, covering the arms and legs.

1. The Abaya Jordanian Traditional Clothing

The most common garment is the ‘abaya.’ It’s a long-sleeved, ankle-length garment with a belt tied around the waist. It has been traditional for women in Jordan to wear the abaya since the 1940s when Arabs were influenced by Islamic culture.

Today, it’s worn by women of all ages. However, young ladies may choose to wear more modern and colorful abayas.

Women’s footwear tends to be flat, with sandals popular, while Men’s garments are typically shorter and looser than women’s garments.

2. The Thawb

 The ‘thawb’ is the most common garment worn by men. It’s a long and loose shirt that can be worn underneath a long coat called a ‘Jubba.’ For footwear, men tend to favor the ‘khuff,’ a type of sandal made from animal hide.

Palestinian Traditional Clothing

Palestine, a region rich in culture and tradition, has a diverse range of clothing styles that reflect the country’s ethnic and religious diversity. Traditional clothing in Palestine is typically loose-fitting and made from fabrics like silk and cotton. They’re often decorated with sequins, embroidery, or beads for a luxurious effect.

Women’s garments are typically long and loose, covering the arms and legs.

1. The Thob

The most common garment is the ‘thob,’ a long robe tied around the waist. It can be plain or decorated with sequins, beads, or other embellishments.

2. Other Palestinian Traditional Clothes

Other garments worn by women include the ‘jilbab,‘ a long robe worn over the thob, and the ‘mish-mash,‘ a long coat worn over the thob. Women’s footwear tends to be flat, with sandals and slippers being popular.

 Men’s garments are typically shorter and looser than women’s garments. The ‘thawb’ is the most common garment worn by men. It’s a long and loose shirt that can be worn underneath a long coat called a ‘jubba.’ Men tend to favor a type of sandal called ‘jallabeya’ for footwear.

What Do Jordanian and Palestinian Traditional Clothes Look Like

Now that we’ve known the various elements that make up Jordanian and Palestinian garments, let’s discuss the subtle differences:

  • Jordanians typically favor fabrics like cotton, silk, and polyester, while Palestinians often opt for silk and cotton. 
  • Jordanian garments tend to be adorned with bold and intricate patterns, whereas the patterns found in Palestinian garments are typically more subtle. 
  • Jordanian garments are often shorter and looser than their Palestinian counterparts.
  • The garments worn by Palestinian women tend to be longer than those worn by their Jordanian counterparts.
  • The colors found in Jordanian clothing are typically bold and vibrant. On the other hand, the colors found in Palestinian garments are typically more neutral and subdued.
  • Jordanian garments tend to have a more modern and luxurious style, whereas Palestinian garments have a more traditional and modest style.

How Has the Current Political Climate Affected Traditional Dress?

The current political situation in the Middle East has profoundly affected many aspects of everyday life. This includes fashion, as both regions have had to adapt their traditional clothing to account for changing circumstances.

While Jordanians have primarily maintained their traditional dress style, Palestinians have had to modify their garments to avoid being identified as members of Hamas. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been at the forefront of global news coverage in recent years.

The conflict has proven to be exceedingly complex and challenging to resolve with two distinct and opposing sides. Palestinians have been living under occupation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, since 1967.

In 2018, the United Nations reported that 12 million Palestinians live in the region. With such high numbers, it’s unsurprising that Palestinians are eager to preserve their cultural identity and resist Israeli rule.

How Does Palestinian Traditional Clothing Influence Religion

Religion has a crucial role in the development of Palestinian clothing. Islamic scholars and leaders have been instrumental in encouraging the adoption of specific garments and accessories.

 The turban, a type of headwear, has been a common element of Palestinian clothing since the 12th century. With time, it became customary for men to wrap their turbans with an ‘essam,’ a piece of silk cloth used as an accessory.

The ‘hammam,’ a piece of cloth used as a belt, is another tradition that can be traced back to the 12th century.

Jordanian Traditional Clothing and Religion

The garments worn by Jordanians have remained essentially unchanged for centuries. However, their garments have undergone subtle changes in recent years. In particular, people have opted for shorter garments that are less baggy than the traditional ones, which are attributed to the fact that the climate in Jordan has been steadily growing warmer and drier over the years.

Unlike their Palestinian counterparts, Jordanians have traditionally worn garments embellished with sequins, beads, or rhinestones since the Jordanians were once under the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

During this time, Ottoman Turks were Muslim and inspired by Islamic culture. Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, is considered one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. The institution has played a critical part in shaping Islamic culture. since the 9th century.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference between a Hijab and Burka?

A burka is a full-body garment that covers the face and body, while a hijab is a headscarf covering a woman’s hair, ears, and neck. It’s the most common type of Islamic dress.

Why Does Hamas Prohibit Women from Wearing Jeans?

The current political climate has forced Hamas to exercise extreme control over the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. In an attempt to maintain power, Hamas has attempted to ban women from wearing jeans, as they’re a symbol of Western culture.

Why Do Some Palestinian Garments Have Multiple Layers?

Some Palestinian garments have multiple layers for religious reasons. Others do so for aesthetic charm.

Why Do Some Palestinian Garments Have Pockets?

The pockets found in Palestinian garments are typically sewn on the inside of garments at the waist. They’re usually added to garments to carry around essential documents like passports.

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