Unmodified Fabric Rectangles

The simplest clothing is formed by wrapping or pinning an unmodified fabric length around the body. Simple cloaks such as the haik and chador are also formed from unmodfied lengths.

Wrapped Garments

Algeria, 1967.
Woman and child,
Algeria, 1967
Palestine 1926.
Izar (click to enlarge),
Palestine 1926
Sudan 2004.
Sudan 2004
Yemen 1979.
Fisherman in futah,
Yemen 1979
The izar is worn from Morocco to Syria - usually over a sleeved dress. The fabric is twice the height of the wearer. It is wound once around like a skirt and held with a sash, then is wound over the head. Parker

A similar garment is also worn by Nubians on the Sudanese border.

Berbers in Morocco also wear a similar style but using two rectangles. One for the skirt and the other for upper body. The skirt is sometimes referred to as a loin cloth or in Algeria a fouta Tafsout. This is basically the same as the futah in Yemen.

Pinned Garments

Berbers in the Maghrib also wear a draped garment held with two pins at the shoulder - like the Greek peplos and fibula - in the Maghrib it is called melia or melehfa and bzima. Parker, Tafsout
Tunisia 1910.
Girl in melia,
Tunisia 1910
Fibula closeup.
Fibula closeup,
Tunisia 1910
Algeria 1928.
Dresses pinned at shoulders,
Algeria 1928
Algeria 1958.
Algeria 1958

Simple Wrapped Cloaks

Morocco 1935.
Covered women in market,
Morocco 1935
Morocco, 1943.
Morocco 1943
Haik, Algiers 1928.
Algiers 1928
Haiks, Tunisia 1910.
Wealthy women in haiks,
Tunisia 1910


Throughout the Maghrib and eastwards, urban women cover their whole body with a sheer garment called the haik. This 6m x 2m length of fabric is made of fine wool and sometimes striped with blue or black over the white. Parker, Britannica


A heavier garment, more like a blanket or shawl, the handira is also worn in this region Parker
Handira Morocco 1935.
Morocco 1935
Iran 1950.
Women and girls in chadors
Iran 1950
Iran 1957.
Iran 1957


Further east, the chador is worn as outer cloak. It was banned in Iran in the 1920s but made a come back in the 1950s and now required.

Some sources incorrectly confuse chadors with Afghan burqas. The two are quite different as can be seen in the veil page.

Other general types of clothing:

unmodified lengths    cloaks    sleeveless tunics    skirts    men's headwear    women's headwear

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