Tunics have a historical place in Asian and African wear. Normally worn with matching pants, their shapes may vary, but the materials and decorative elements (color, embroidery stitches, fabric weaves) announce the origins of the wearer. Many of the styles are easily recognizable, but sometimes a novice, like me, is stumped at identifying which cultural group a garment might belong to. One of the best resources that I have found on the web to do some research is TurkoTek, an online forum made up of primarily rug enthusiasts. They often also discuss other textiles and one could spend hours and hours learning from their articles. Navigation on the site is confusing, but having some patience almost always yields results.
Afghan Tribal Arts does not carry a large selection of garments, but the pieces it does offer are truly special. This post features three tunics that we currently have listed on Etsy. Click on the images and it will take you to more images and information about the tunics. To see all of our garments listed, click on the Tribal Garments section.
The silk tunic pictured above is one of the pieces that I could not identify. The embroidery reminds me of Uzbeki textiles, but their garments are usually more ornate. If you know anything about this piece or any of the others featured here, please leave a comment. We are always interested in learning more! I am guessing that this would have been a man’s tunic, probably a wealthier trader.
The embroidered tunic above is another one that I could not identify, also believed to be from Uzbekistan. Definitely a woman’s garment, green velvet is covered with joyful embroidery.
I had some success with this blue tunic and found similar garments on TurkoTek that were Baluchi. The triangle at the waist is actually a pocket opening which goes all the way down that middle panel, a traditional element found in these Baluchi garments. The embroidery was also similar to other images that I saw, but the fabric was different. Unfortunately, it is that awful polyester from the 1970’s. So many tribal people around the world welcomed the introduction of polyester as it was almost wrinkle free, strong and held its color. Yuck.
The great thing about all of three of these pieces is that they are quite large, an XL in Western measurements. Most of the garments we normally see are tiny and would not fit those of us who are larger in size. The purple silk tunic is somewhat fragile and all three would most likely be purchased as textiles, but they could also be worn for an event now and then. They smelled like must so I machine washed them which means that their condition is pretty stable and will remain as seen above for many years to come.