History: Costume

Before the Russian Revolution, Bukhara and the other towns of Uzbekistan were distinguished by the splendor of their costumes, jewelry, woven silks, and embroidered fabrics. Restrictions were imposed periodically on Christians and Jews with regard to costume. In earlier periods, they were obliged to wear special colors, in the case of the Jews black and yellow, the black generally an outer garment, worn in the street. Until the 1920s, Jewish men were obliged to wear in the street a cord girdle and a hat trimmed with fur—the telpak.

The latter was apparently of a special type but its exact shape cannot be ascertained. These two items seem to be the last vestiges of a Jewish costume known only through vague literary descriptions. Apart from these features imposed on their costume, the only garments peculiar to Jewish wear in Bukhara were the white robes worn on the Day of Atonement, and a bridal gown with a special type of veil, both made of bespangled white cotton tulle. Otherwise Jewish costume was similar to Muslim; ceremonial robes were copied from those worn at the court of the emir, who used to present such robes to his distinguished subjects, Muslims and Jews alike.

Men's coats were long garments of the "kaftan" type found in various versions all the way from Eastern Europe to China. Their cut was in simple, straight lines, in a wide, enfolding shape. They wore several coats, one over the other. Women's coats were of three kinds:

(1) the kaltshak, a long ceremonial coat, narrow at the waist, open in front, with very wide sleeves;

(2) the kamzol, for more general use, shorter and of a European-style, flared-out cut; and

(3) the frandjin, a mantle worn in the street, enveloping the whole figure from head to toe. Their dresses were wide, long, shirt-like. They were cut from lengths of cloth without a shoulder seam. The fabrics used were mostly local silks or imported materials.

Ornamentation on the costumes was of various kinds: most common were many-colored edgebands, generally tablet woven, on the borders of nearly all garments. Headgear and the paired bands on the front of women's dresses were embroidered with colored silk threads but also with gold thread, which was used lavishly for ceremonial attire. In private, Jewish men wore various kinds of caps; those current among Bukharan Jews even today are caps heavily embroidered with colored silk or gold. Women had various types of caps, and many kinds of kerchiefs and scarves.

Unmarried women at ceremonial or family gatherings wore a topi-tos, a soft cap entirely covered with gold embroidery in traditional geometric patterns. For festive dress, mothers and older women bound the forehead with a special kerchief of brocade. On ceremonial occasions Jewish notables wore jeweled belts. In private, Jewish men wore various kinds of the plain cord girdle obligatory on the street. Soft boots of colored, floral patterns were worn indoors and boots resembling black leather galoshes outdoors.