Origin of the Kaftan
figure 1: a man wearing a kaftan
Kaftan is a long silk or cotton dress with long, oversized sleeves; it is most common in the Middle East however, over the years the Kaftan dress has gained much popularity around the globe.
figure 2: Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in a kaftan of complex woven fabric.
Kaftan has a history that goes decades back. The word Kaftan is Persian, this dress is usually a narrow cut long robe with sleeves down on the sides covering both arms. It can either be with a boat neck or the modern Kaftan, which is front open with buttons, as a coat.
The kaftan takes its origin in ancient Mesopotamia. Its popularity quickly spread across the Ottoman Empire for its grace and royal style. It became fairly popular among the Ottoman sultans who styled it with jewels and ornaments making it look even richer. This was also an indication of the wearer’s status. When Moroccan judges started wearing kaftans it became a symbol of power. Every culture has had its unique version of the Kaftan, which is in fact, very similar to the original design.
It is also mentioned that the first of the Moroccan Kaftan appeared in the 16th century, although the kaftan had been worn across the Middle East and Persia long before this time. During the reign of the Abbassides that the garment made its way to Andalusia in the ninth century. Berber Almohad dynasty of Morocco took control of the Islamic Western region. During the Spanish Inquisition, which culminated in the forced conversion to Christianity or the deportation from Andalusia of Muslims and Jews, many people fled to neighboring Morocco, taking their traditional clothing along.
How the Kaftan went global
figure 3: Americans returning from journeys on the hippie trail helped popularise the kaftan.
Ever since it came into being, the Kaftan has been a symbol of style, grace and in some places, a bohemian lifestyle. Over the years, the Kaftan has become a popular term for any loose-fitting garment or tunic. Most people often associate different garments with this name. The very voluminous garment without particular sleeves, a kaftan, is in fact, closer to the abaya. The garment style has originated in Ancient Mesopotamia.
The Ottoman sultans from the 14th to the 18th centuries wore lavishly decorated kaftans. These Kaftans were gifts to royals and dignitaries. Perhaps it is so popular because of the fact that it can be made from almost any fabric; most are made of silk, wool, or cotton and are often bound with a sash. Kaftans are common among both men and women in variations across the Iranian plateau, through North Africa, and into West Africa. The Kaftan is primarily popular in a hot climate because its loose style also encourages ventilation hence lowering the body temperature. However, this is not a compulsion, some people style it during winter too, such as in Russia where a similar garment is made out of fur. The kaftan lent itself well to the next decade’s fashions; offering a basic silhouette, with heavy patterns, or sleekly minimal.
The Kaftan was brought into the United States and Europe through 18th century Bohemians who made the style very chic and popular. Women entertaining at home wore the kaftan dress. The popularity in America of the kaftan from high end to the mass market and cheap imports stemmed from its association with exoticism as well as the easy-to-wear comfort of these pieces.
Kaftan as an Islamic Dress
figure 4: Muslim girls at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta
The phenomenon of clothing in Islam lies upon a few basic rules such as covering specific body parts. However it may evolve, the basic guidelines always remain intact. The kaftan is modest apparel; hence its popularity in Muslim Countries was inevitable. Kaftan is a free, elegant fabric for women. With the dressing effect, the appearance of the whole clothing is cheerful in general. It’s that effortless and this is necessary for a piece of clothing. Such basic clothes can turn out to be amazing, even to wear as a fancy outfit.
The use of luxurious materials can impact it seem very attractive. You can create several variations in kaftan dresses with a diverse range of fabrics, colors, a kind of embroidered work available nowadays. You can create dressing attire that goes according to different fashion trends by simply adjusting the length, the cuts and the fit. And on a completely special level, the whole dress becomes fashionable by being identical to other accessories. Muslim women carry abaya which is similar to long black Kaftan.
What is a Kaftan dress?
The caftan moves with the air and with the body, so it goes from hiding the silhouette to emphasizing it based on the movement of the wearer. – Collectors weekly
The idea of taking loose fabric and covering the body is prevalent throughout the world. It’s such a breathable, comfortable garment in the heat. – Collectors weekly
As we have already mentioned what a Kaftan dress is, we will read more about why it became so popular and is wearable up until now.
Why do women prefer it?
Kaftan is a breathable outfit and is overall very relaxing to carry through the day. It can a plain cotton kaftan, paired with almost anything if you have a good sense of style. Made of soft materials and fabrics like cotton and silk, this wear is also good as a nightshirt.
The reasons why women like to wear kaftan?
Easy to wear
Kaftan is one of the most relaxing and comfortable daywear to help women feel light and elegant. It is a perfect outfit for all occasions such as shopping, kitty parties, and family together, and more. Made of soft materials and fabrics like cotton and silk, this wear is also good as a nightshirt. Silk and cotton are organic fabrics that absorb sweat and keep the body clean and fresh. However, for part of the night, you can choose a dress caftan georgette, satin, and rayon.
Do Men Wear Kaftan?
In the Middle East, Men’s kaftan was originally worn by men and were long robes that buttoned up the front and were either made of cotton or silk. Some of these rich garments were so precious and valuable that they were given to generals if they were good during religious festivals in combat or important officers of the Empire. Historically they were also worn by men in Russia, where they were more of a long, suit with tight sleeves, and by the 19th century, they were generally only worn by the shopkeepers and poorer people.
We often had long or elbow-length sleeves around a belt or sash around the waist. There’s still an amazing collection of imperial kaftans in fine, luxurious fabrics of Turkey’s Ottoman Sultans at Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace.
Can only slim people carry Kaftans?
It is a common myth in some cultures that only people with a certain physique can carry such dresses. Kaftans can be worn by people from all walks of life they are just that versatile! Plus size Kaftans cater to the growing consumer demand.
Regions where men carry kaftans
Caftans continue to be a very common traditional dress for wearing in Morocco. There are even top-end Moroccan designer kaftans retailing for lots of money as well as simpler ones for more casual occasions. They are also common in West Africa, where they are well-known as a boubou. These kaftans are simple robes that slip over the head and are often in colors and bright patterns.
In Southeast Asia, where the fabrics used to make the kaftans have been dyed using the batik method to produce colorful floral and abstract patterns, there is also a tradition of wearing them. One of the reasons contemporary caftans are so sought after is that they are easy to just slip over your head and an undemanding and comfortable to wear garment. Nevertheless, kaftans have been embraced in many other parts of the world these days as a great style to wear as they are an incredibly versatile dress that can be worn in many fashionable and individual ways and for many different events.
Variation in material and kaftan designs
It may be made of wool, cashmere, silk, or cotton, and may be worn with a sash. The most common ones are monochrome colors, such as black kaftans and simple white kaftan. Styles uses, and names for the kaftan vary from culture to culture. The kaftan is often worn as a coat or as an overdress, usually having long sleeves and reaching to the ankles, it can also be made into modern-day kaftan tops. In regions with a warm climate, people carry it as a light-weight, loose-fitting garment. In some cultures, the kaftan has served as a symbol of royalty.
Have you ever thought about trying to make a customized Kaftan? Let us give you some tips on how you can get started!
- Lightweight, flowy fabric to make this simple kaftan dress. For this, you need about 3 m (3.3 yds).
- Sewing tools
First, stand in front of a mirror with your fabric. Fold the fabric sides together, hold it up against your body and see how long you want your dress
- Keep the fold, put the fabric on the board, cut the fabric excessively. First, fold the fabric in half lengthwise, and mark the corner on the fold which is the center point. From there, measure and mark 15 cm or 6 in with pins on either side of the center.
- Unfold the fabric and cut along the fold to connect the 2 points.
- Try to make sure that the head hole is wide enough at this point and take it to your sewing machine and finish all the raw edges, however, you like. I use a hemmer foot to exercise so that’s what I used. You can do a rolled hem all the way around if you’re careful or you can do a zigzag stitch, or use your serger if you have a serger.
- Back on the floor, fold it together again on the wrong sides, and measure around 40 cm or 16 in from the fold and side edge and mark the point with a marker. From there, measure 40 cm down to the bottom, or 16 in, and make a line. To the other side do the same.
- Now all you need to do is sew down along the lines using a straight stitch
- You may make them for the buttonholes, without a special foot. Only determine how wide you want that hole to be, and draw a line. Then go around it with a narrow zigzag stitch very close to 0, with the stitch length. Try not to sew the line over, just go about it. And just cut the line, without tearing the stitches. You can now wear it with or without any belt.
Kaftan styles around the globe
Ottoman Kaftan; This attire was worn by the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. All kinds of decorations on the cloth indicated the rank of the individual wearing it. Morocco’s Kaftan; Moroccan cloth-makers designed and re-fashioned kaftans in Morocco. Kaftans in Morrocco are often symbolic of the various cultural traditions and factors of cultural heritage. West African Kaftan is often referred to as ‘boubou’. Both men and women wear it. Russian The Kaftan is the heart of a true Russian wardrobe. Lower-order people wore kaftans because it made them look royal and powerful. Western countries; In the 1890s the kaftan was launched in the western world. Fashion designers started wearing this piece of cloth as hostess gowns for parties. Kaftans are a part of well-known brands as part of the summer season lines. You will also find trending this 2020, kaftan Dubai styles for Eid inspiration!