About this object

History of use

Worn with loose-fitting pants and a shawl for special occasions, e.g., weddings.


The dress appears to be Pashtun or Hazara, according to examples in the published literature, however the dress was identified as Baluchi by the previous owner. The dress was said to have been worn by a bride at her wedding. Because of the fine workmanship and elegant fabric used to make this dress, it is reasonable to assume that it was made and worn by urban-dwellers rather than nomads.

Specific techniques

Iridescent shot effect in fabric is achieved by using a weft that differs from the warp colour. Pleating is often found on Afghanistan ceremonial clothing. The metallic thread on this dress is silver coloured, but appears to be gold because the couching threads are yellow.

Physical description

Woman’s dress made of purple shot silk, trimmed with metallic thread embroidery. The bodice front is a panel of heavily embroidered geometric designs worked in couched metallic thread and patches of brightly coloured cotton textile. The dress is collarless, with a centre front slit opening at the neck. High waist. The bodice back is plain. Full sleeves with embroidered cuffs; the two cuffs are similar in design but do not match each other exactly. The bodice is lined with a patchwork of cotton and silk textiles. The skirt is softly pleated onto the waisband. The hem is finished with a wide band of couched metallic thread embroidery and patches of brightly coloured cotton textiles. The back of the skirt is slightly longer than the front.