Clothing Glossary for the Middle East
and the Maghrib

The following are clothing related terms from the sources I used to create this section on Middle Eastern dress. Where possible multiple references have been consolidated. It is possible that the same word can refer to different items in different regions or time periods (think of the differences in meaning between British and American English). It is also possible that the sources got things wrong.

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . references

The terms are transliterated (from Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Berber languages) and little attempt has been made to standardize them (unless the original Arabic is known to check them against). As a result the short vowels have been transliterated differently by different authors. Some words are also transliterated as heard - often within a specific dialect. If the word you are interested in is not listed try the following:
Can't find: Try:
a e, i, o
sh, tc, ts
dj g, k
e a, i, o, y
dj, gh, j, k
i a, e, y
j g, k, dj
k c, g, j, dj, kh, q
m n
Can't find: Try:
n m
o a, e, i
sh, ts
ch, s, tc
s, th
c, ch, sh
s, t
w au, o, u
u w
y e, i

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

aba   aba. long rectangular cloak or mantle with square set sleeves Tilke
secured with a hijam Britannica
worn by people of rank as opposed to the peasant's shorter coat Eid (see mashla)
Arabic. sleeveless coat - women may pull over their heads National Geographic
also used as a blanket Anawalt

aba photos

abaaya, abayeh, abaya   Arabic. Same as gallibaya (Lebanon) Eid

Otherwise see aba. Tilke, Britannica, Parker, Kennet, Anawalt, Wehr

Afghan burqa   veil which covers the whole of a woman's body including the eyes which are covered with a mesh screen Al-Muhajabah

Sometimes (incorrectly) called a chador

agal Britannica Arabia same as ogal
aigrette Turkey plumes adorning turban Britannica
akhnif Morocco early form of burnous - semicircular cloak with a hood Parker
anteri Ottoman woman's long gown Britannica
`araqiyeh Weir Palestine see taqiyeh
asayib Emirates circlet for burga Kennet
`asbeh Palestine a woman's rolled and folded headband worn over a hattah or zurband Weir
asyut, assiut, asuit Egypt, Levant see tulle bi telli
awra   that part of the body that should be hidden from all but a person's spouse; for men, navel to knee; for women, upper chest to knee Al-Muhajabah

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

bedleh   literally "suit" or "uniform" used to describe the belly dance costume of bra, belt and skirt
begha Tunisia shoes Tilke
binish Egypt, Arabia, Syria, Asia Minor, and Turkey binish. front opening coat with wide sleeves of scholars and priests worn over the kaftan Tilke
bisht Parker Arabia men's (dressy) cloak
boushiya   women's sheer veil tied onto the forehead with no eye holes Al-Muhajabah
buknuk   women's circular veil with hole for the face and falling to the bosom ie a short khimar Al-Muhajabah
burnoose, burnous maghrib burnous. unisex semi-circular wrapped cloak with tasselled hood and embroidery Tilke
worn by the wealthy - (cf selham). Men only wear hood in bad weather. Women use hood as veil. Arabic. The hood is also used to hold stuff - like a pocket. Parker

burnous photos

bur'a Egypt women's long narrow face veil ie an Egyptian burqa
burga Kennet
burqa Parker
  Arabic. 1: women's face veil - sometimes held in place with asayib Kennet

2: Also sometimes refers to a full body cover - see Afghan burqa

bzima Parker maghrib see fibula

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

carsaf Britannica   see chador
caftan Britannica   see kaftan
chador, chadar   women's enveloping garment/cloak Britannica

Sometimes incorrectly used to refer to a cloak which covers the eyes with a mesh panel - see Afghan burqa

chadri Britannica   see chador
chalvar, chalwar Britannica, Parker India, Africa see shalvar
checheya Raafat Turkey see tarbush

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

darrah Kuwait dress
darrah zerri Kuwait see thobe al-na`ish
dfina,dfinna Morocco, Eriksen Morocco Women's overcoat or kaftan
dishdashah Anawalt
Algerian long shirt like garment. Similar to Tunisian jellabah, Syrian jubbeh, Egyptian gallibaya Britannica
Anawalt also links it to Oman
dislik Ottoman drawers tied at waist Britannica
djebba maghrib algerian djebba. square, pullover tunic worn by men - also see gamis. Also known as jebba. Tilke, Parker

djebba photos

djebba habayah Algeria tunic underclothing Tilke
Morocco djellabia. hooded outer robe Tilke
djubbeh Ottoman front opening coat with complicated cut and narrow sleeves worn over the kaftan Tilke
dulband Iran Persian for turban Britannica, Sanders
dura`ah Palestine Women's plain short sleeved front opening coat worn as the main body garment in the north (around Nazareth & Galilee)
Also see jillayeh Weir

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

egal Britannica Arabia same as ogal
elbas Palestine see shalvar Weir
entari Turkey see kaftan Tilke
eri Egypt man's woolen shirt Tilke

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

faltita Morocco woman's full skirt - worn over draped rectangular garments worn over sleeved shift Parker
fanilla Oman men's sash Kennet
farasia Tilke Morocco farasia. long shirt like garment with wide sleeves and buttoned over chest - often belted and made from light fabric.
Also known as a kaftan Tilke
farwah Arabia thick sheep wool overcoat (rural Southern Arabia and highlands) Kennet
fez Maghrib see tarbush
fibula Parker   pins used to hold back and front rectangles of melia together at shoulder. (Called bzima in maghrib)
firmia Algeria, Tunisia firmia. vest also known as sedria or ssedria Tilke
fouta Algeria striped loin cloth (see futah) Tafsout
futah Yemen unisex wrap around calf length skirt Anawalt
futtan Palestine women's dress from Damascus decorated with silver and gold thread National Geographic

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

galabia, gallibaya, gallabiya Egypt
Bedouin Parker
gallibaya. long shirt like garment Tilke
full length with wide long sleeves; skirt may be slit up sides; some styles open at front. similar to Tunisian jellabah, Syrian jubbeh, Algerian dishdasha Britannica
gamis, gamisa Morocco & maghrib gamis. djebba with sleeves.
Also known as kamis - from kumm (sleeve), kamma to provide with sleeves Tilke
gandura Tilke Tunisia men's short full sleeveless over garment

gandura photos

gasabia Tunisia narrow version of a burnoose worn by the working class. Also known as kasabia Tilke
gedjalyk Caucasus jacket Tilke
ghandoura Parker Morocco see gandura
ghlila Tunisia jacket Tilke
ghutra Wehr
  Arabic. rectangular cloth worn over the skullcap as a head dress Kennet
usually white, sometimes checked in red and white or black and white
Also known as a kefijeh - although some sources use this to refer to the skullcap.
ghudfeh Palestine women's festive embroidered veils - similar to khirqah or tarbi`ahWeir
gibbeh Tilke Egypt see djubbeh
görnlek Ottoman women's knee length sleeved chemise Britannica
gumbaz Lebanon crossed dress slit up front worn by people of rank; women's also slitted on sides Eid

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

habayah Algeria also known as djebba Tilke
handira Parker Morocco (Berber) rectangular blanket like shawl
harem pants   see pantaloons
hatta National Geographic
hattah Weir
a scarf - roughly square worn as either a headscarf or a baggish head covering by unmarried women or folded like a band - `asbeh - by married women.
men as well Weir
haik maghrib (urban) women's sheer draped over garment Parker
rectangle about 6m x 2m Britannica
hijab   generally a Muslim women's modest dress or more specifically either any headscarf (khimar) or a square of fabric folded into a triangle then placed over the head and fastened under the chin Al-Muhajabah
hijam Iraq sash or belt for aba; a cummerbund Britannica
hizan Egypt sash or belt for kaftan Tilke

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

igal, iqaal Britannica
igaal Kennet
`iqal Wehr
Arabia Arabic. (camel hair) corded band that holds the headwear (kufiya) in place. (Also the cord that hobbles a camel)
Also transliterated agal, egal, ogal
ihram Kennet Arabic Arabic for turban ie folded/wrapped head dress
`imamah Britannica
`imma Wehr
imma Discover
Arabic Arabic. Arabic for turban ie folded/wrapped head dress
ikanaf Parker Morocco see akhnif
izar Parker Morocco-Syria wrapped garment (length twice height of wearer) worn over dress with sleeves. Wrapping: once around as skirt held with sash then over the head

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

jambiya Oman see khanjor
jebba Parker Morocco see djebba
jellabah Tunisia similar to Syrian jubbeh, Algerian dishdasha, Egyptian gallibaya Britannica
jilbab   Arabic. long coatlike outter garment Wehr
jillayeh Palestine Women's heavily ornamented body garement - either a short sleeved front opening coat in the north (around Nazareth & Galilee) or a dress in the south.
Also see dura`ah Weir
jubba Wehr
jubbah Britannica
jubbe Eid
jubbeh Anawalt, Britannica
Arabic. unisex long coat open at front - sleeves can be long or short, narrow or wide Anawalt
short sleeved coat for women in winter worn over gumbaz; front opening and light side slit Eid
long wide sleeved gown (worn by `ulama) to feet buttoned half way down over stripped caftan Britannica
similar to Tunisian jellabah, Algerian dishdasha, Egyptian gallibaya Britannica

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

kaffiyeh Britannica
Arabia see kufiya
Egypt Tilke
kaftan. shirt-dress with wide sleeves buttoned over the chest worn with a sash (hizan) over vest, shirt and trousers Tilke
open in front often bound by sash Britannica
- based on Persian front opening coat (with exaggerated sleeves for ruling classes Parker
unisex with ample cut Anawalt

Tilke also refers to the farasia as a "kaftan" despite it only opening partially down the front.

kalabia Tilke Egypt see galabia
kalansuwa Sanders Yeman concial hat under the turban
kamis maghrib
see gamis.
Wide shirt worn by Fellahin Tilke
from kumm (sleeve), kamma to provide with sleeves Tilke
kandura Tilke Tunisia see gandura.
kanis Yemen women's shirt Tilke
kasabia Tilke Tunisia see gasabia.
kefijeh Tilke Arabia see kufiya
khaleegi thobe Gulf States see thobe al-na`ish
("khaleegi" means of the Gulf)
khanja khanjor Oman men's curved knife also known as jambiya Anawalt (also see kumia)
khimar   Arabic. women's head and face veil Wehr
either how the Quran refers to a women's headscarf in general or specifically, a circular headcovering with a hole cut for the face reaching the waist (also see buknuk and chador) Al-Muhajabah
khirqah Palestine women's festive embroidered veils - similar to tarbi`ah or ghudfehWeir
kibr National Geographic Bedouin striped overcoat open down front with belt and/or shoulder straps
kofia Tilke Arabia see kefijeh.
koubrane Lebanon men's embroidered bolero Eid
kubb`ah Weir Palestine see libbadeh
kumm   Arabic. sleeve (pl. akmam, kimama). kamma (v) to provide with sleeves Wehr
kufeya Discover
kufiya Wehr
Arabia Arabic. Either square cloth used as headwear (sometimes with tassels along edge) folded into a triangle and held in place by an `iqal Tilke, Wehr (the cloth is also known as a ghoutra)
or the underlying skullcap (taqiyah ) Anawalt
Plural is keffiyeh Wehr
kumia Morocco curved dagger - also see medshul Tilke
kusak Ottoman (unisex) sash or belt Britannica
kutiyah Anawalt Arabia skullcap - see kefijeh.

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

laffeh Palestine stripped or checked turban with fringe worn over (and showing) tarbush Weir
libbadeh Palestine felt cap worn by village men (also known as kubb`ah) Weir

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

malas Palestine a satin hood worn by girls approaching marriageable age Weir
mandil Egypt Arabic. women's headscarf often edged with pom-poms.

Here is how to make a mandil for dance.

madas Arabia men's sandals. Also known as na`al Discover
masar Keohane Oman men's (traditionally woollen Kashmiri) scarves wound like a turban.
mashla Tilke Syria mashla. overcoat like an aba, but tighter, shorter and with short sleeves, worn by men over their kaftan or women over their shirt Tilke
Also see mishlah
medshul Morocco woven woollen cords used to suspend weapons - also see kumia Tilke
melaya luf
milaya lef
Egypt milaya lef. urban women's wrapped outer garment

milaya photos

used in performing a theatrical tableau

melehfa Tafsout
unisex wrapped no sew garment wrapped left to right starting at back. First wrap plus pins with fibula and creates blouse; belted at waist. A gamis is worn underneath. Parker, Tafsout
milfa Arabia half veil Kennet
also see shambar
mishlah Kennet Arabia see bisht Discover

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

na`al Discover Arabia see madas
neqleh Palestine the embroidered panel on a southern Palestinian village woman's shambar Weir
niqam   a means of veiling a woman's face;
"full niqab" - veil tied on the forehead with eyeholes
"half niqab" - veil that covers only the lower face Al-Muhajabah

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

ogal Tilke Arabia see `iqal
omasa Arabia bride's red thobe with sleeves & bodice with indian gold embroidery Kennet

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

pantaloons   English term for common undergarments for men and women. Generally they are very full at the waist and gathered by a drawstring. Variations include low crutch, high crutch and the Persian version which narrows from the knees. The distal end can be gathered or cuffed. Sometimes the length is very long and the ends are either gathered on the calf with excess fabric falling to the ankles or pleated vertically. See potur, shalvar, shintijan, sorouelles

Here is how to make a Westernized version for dance.

phecy Raafat Turkey see tarbush
potur Egypt, Levant, Turkey wide men's trousers with extension pieces cut like gaiters which can be fitted close to leg by buttoningTilke

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

qabbeh Palestine Embroidered chest panel for women's dress Weir
qalansuwah Britannica
qalansuwa Wehr
Egypt Arabic. collapisable cap of red felt under imamah with blue tassel Britannica
tall headgear, hood, cap Wehr
qalansiya Wehr   Arabic. see qalansuwah
qashani Iran Kurdish robe Anawalt
qashqai Iran Kurdish man's felt cap Anawalt
qumbaz Palestine unisex ankle length cloak with right side held under left arm and worn in place of abayeh. Men's qumbaz has short or no side slit; women's has long side slits Anawalt
qun`ah Palestine long, flowing black or blue veil of southern Bedouin women Weir
qunbaz Syria Arabic. men's long, sleeved open fronted garment Wehr

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

redan National Geographic Bedouin worn by non-manual workers with kimono shaped sleeves to ground

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saffeh Palestine arch of silver and gold coins worn over the smadeh Weir
salvar Britannica
salwar Parker
  see shalvar
sarband Sanders Iran (also known as dulband) see turban
sarik Sanders Turkey see turban
sebleh Egypt and the Levant women's tob Tilke
sedria Maghrib, Egypt sedria. vest also known as firmia or ssedria

(buttoned version right worn under a kaftan)

selham Parker
sulham Tilke
Morocco, Tunisia men's very full sleeveless cloak with hood with silk pom poms (similar to burnoose)
shaal Kennet   cloth used to create a turban
shalvar Arabian Peninsula, Syria, Iran, India, Africa (unisex) loose trousers (worn as under garment) Tilke
3m across waist; tied waist and ankle Britannica
loose trousers - ankle length for princes and women, knee or calf for peasants Eid
with low crutch (cf sorouelles); ends often decorated Parker
Also known as chalvar, chalwar, salvar, salwar, shintijan, shintyan, shirwal
In Turkey they are known as tshaivar
Also see pantaloons

shinbar, shunbar
Palestine either a Bedouin women's veil in shape of a tube which fills the neck opening of the dress. Also called milfa`
or a black festive veil from southern Palestine with an embroidered panel (naqleh), fringe and tassels Weir
shas Kennet Levant see yashmak
shash Palestine long, flowing white veil of southern village women Weir
shatweh Palestine women's tarbush shaped headdress decorated with silver and gold coins from Bethlehem Weir
shawal Kennet Palestine women's tunic dress - flared and panelled with cross stitch
shemagh   see ghoutra
shintijan Tilke
shintyan Parker
Egypt & Levant
wide women's trousers tied at waist and below knee with the extra length falling to ankles.
Also known as tshaivar in TurkeyTilke
Also see pantaloons
shirwal Lebanon see shalvar
shirsh Parker Syria women's sleeved shift with generous fit obtained by triangular fill (instead of open seams)
shishia Morocco, Tunisia cap - rounder in Tunisia, more pointed in Morocco Tilke
shumagh Arabia see ghoutra
sirwaal Parker, Kennet
sirwal Weir
Lebanon, Arabia
see shalvar
skullcap   see taqiyeh
smadeh Palestine women's bonnet decorated with silver and gold coins Weir
ssedria Algeria, Tunisia vest also known as firmia Tilke
sserual Magreb and Egypt trousers Tilke
sub Yemen women's white pleated shirt Tilke [shirt not skirt - Kashmir]
sorouelles Turkey pull on pants (under garment) wth a higher crutch than shalvar Parker
sulham Tilke Morocco, Tunisia see selham

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

tannur, tanoura   Arabic. dervish skirt Britannica . Also the entertainment version of whirling wearing the skirts as seen in Egypt
tantour Lebanon cone shaped hearwear for women used to support veil Eid
taqiyeh Weir
skullcap - worn by both sexes Discover, Weir
taqshita, takchita Eriksen Morocco Traditional urban women's ensemble - dfina, kaftan, shalvar
tarbi`ah Palestine women's festive embroidered veils - similar to khirqah or ghudfehWeir
tarbouche Lebanon truncated cone to support a turban Eid
see tarbush
tarboosh Britannica
see tarbush
Egypt 1820-1952 only
tarbush Syria
arabichard cap of red felt under imamah Britannica
tarbush maghribi - soft version with tassel on crown worn by village men in Palestine - pre 1930s Weir
tarbush istambuli - hard version worn by Palestinian townsmen and upperclasses Weir
From "sar" - head and "poosh" - cover. Raafat
Also known as checheya, Fez and phecy
tcharchaf Britannica Ottoman see chador
thaub Wehr   Arabic. see thobe
thawb Kennet, Discover   see thobe
thob Parker Egypt
(Syria) Bedouin
garment worn over gallibaya
very long dress with long triangular sleeves used for carrying stuff
thob'ob Keohane Bedouin very long thob - up to 3m from shoulder to hem - the skirt of which has a fold ('ob) and tucked into the belt. That is a double dress.

Here is a photo of a thob'ob from 1937. And here is a clip of a women wrapping a tob'ob from the 1920s.

thobe   general Arabic term for clothing, garment, dress or robe.
Differing dialects pronounce the "th" as "t" or "s". Also see tob, thob, sub
thobe al-na`ish
thobe el-neshel
thobe nashaal
Gulf States an ornate women's robe used in the "hair tossing dance"
Also known as darrah zerri (sequined dress) and thobe tawoose (peacock dress)
Also see tob

Here is how to make a version for stage.

tob Tilke, National Geographic Egypt and the Levant
1: Women's wide dress with ornamentation around neck and breast slit. Also know as sebleh. Tilke
2: Bedouin - men's long white ankle length garment worn under a kibr, or women's blue dress - decorated with light blue bands and/or seams National Geographic
3: Palestine - men's thobe narrower than Egyptian galibaya; women's thobe is loose, collarless, with embroidered yoke and sides plus girdle at waist Anawalt
tshaivar Turkey straight trousers Tilke
tshalvar Tilke Turkey see shintijan
tshepks Syria, Kurdistan short under jackets Tilke
tulle bi telli Egypt, Levant flax based net with metallic embroidery. Well known examples were made in Asyut, Egypt which let to it being known as "asyut"
turban   long scarf wound over head or inner hat. Depending on country and social status wrapping style and length varies (can up to 45m long). Muslim versions have forehead bare so skin can touch ground when praying Britannica
The cloth is known as shaal, the result imma or ihram.

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

wuqa, wuqayeh Palestine simple rectangular fabric bonnet sometimes with a few coins worn by women and girls approaching marriageable age Weir

A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z . ref

yelek Egypt women's flowered kaftan open at the neck to the breast then fitted by buttons or laces to the belt; high side slits expose wide trousers Tilke
women's waistcoat Britannica
yashmak, yasmak   narrow face veil hanging from temples and sometimes supported on the nose Britannica

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zamliyeh Palestine striped headband worn by female guests in southern village wedding Weir
zerri Kuwait sequin
ziban Arabia (esp Bedouin) middle layer between thawb and bisht Kennet
zurband Palestine a woman's long veil half worn over the head and then spilt and wrapped around the waist Weir

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