An Abaya is a robe or cloak that is a part Muslim women’s cultural attire. It is a lose, multi-layered garment worn over top of another garment and is meant to provide coverage for the body, except for the face, head, feet and hands. This is a robe style garment that is designed to promote a woman’s modesty.
History and Origin of the Abaya
The origin of the Abaya can be traced to a verse in the Holy Qur’an. It is this verse that inspired the creation of the Abaya. This doctrine was obtained from the Hadith where it states that the Abaya must be plain and entirely black, covering the body. One of its main purposes is to make the female figure indiscernible. Secondly, because it is usually black and doesn’t have form it is meant to ward off undesired attention towards the wearer’s beauty. When and how an Abaya is to be worn is clearly defined in Muslim culture and is an important part of their heritage.
Muslim women of nomadic Bedouin tribes wear a modified form of the Abaya in order to protect themselves from the harsh conditions of the desert.
Modern versions of the traditional black Abaya include a variety of colors such as dark green, blue and grey with embellishments such as stones, embroidery and rhinestones.
Variety and Style of the Abaya
The original style of the Abaya does not change much because its main purpose is never deterred from. Within those design limits, the Abaya is modified to form a trench coat style, butterfly style and even a cross-stitch style. The designs and prints on the Abaya may vary greatly. For example, Abayas from Jammu and Kashmir may feature Kashmiri and zardozi embroidery. It may also have animal prints.
Fancy and high-end Abayas often have ribbons, lace and sequin work on it. In terms of material, Abayas are made from a wide range of fabrics such as cotton, crepe, lycra, polyester, chiffon, net, silk and georgette.
A popular way of styling the modest Abaya is by layering a colourful abaya with a black net fabric on the outside. The amount of styling will be determined by the country and the family to which the female belongs.
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