Women’s National clothing in Georgia
If you want a glimpse of Georgian lifestyle, you should learn about traditional Georgian clothing.
One may think that traditional female garments can be described briefly, but in fact there is a lot to discuss. First of all, it must be noted that geographical location and climatic conditions have led to a wide range of traditional clothes in Georgia. Historians have recognized some Byzantine and Persian patterns on Georgian clothing, especially the wardrobe of the royal family which was most certainly influenced by political situations. But each costume has its own interesting details depicting various national values. So, are you ready to learn about the diversity of women’s clothing from this one little nation?
In the north-eastern mountainous part of Georgia, the traditional dress was the Khevsurian Talavari. It consisted of a long shirt (Sadiatso) and pleated coat. This homemade costume stood out from the rest because of its original patterns, beautiful embroidery and ornate design.
Some people say that Talavari has no equivalent in the Caucasus region, but for others women in the north-western mountainous region of Georgia seem to have a more refined taste that might challenge its beauty.
In the 19th Century, a famous traveler, K. Hann, expressed his amazement when seeing the women’s clothes of this region – “We were honored to glimpse a beautiful local woman in elegant dress. She wore effective red trousers under a black caftan ornamented with galloon threads. Her waist was tightened with a beautiful belt that held a large, white, decorated apron.”
The clothing style in the low lying areas of Georgia was definitely different. In the valleys women wore a Georgian dress called a ‘Kartuli Kaba’ made from delicate fabrics such as silk and velvet. On the one hand, the tightly-knitted upper part of the dress accentuated the shoulders and waist of those who wore it. On the other hand, the loose ends of the garment allowed women to move comfortably.
Almost every Georgian female had long plaits and quite a complex headdress called ‘Chikhti-Kopi’. ‘Kopi’ was a cotton stuffed semi arc hidden inside a wooden flat arc known as a ‘Chikhta’. The ‘Chikhta’ was covered with a beautiful headscarf that was attached to the Kopi with pins. At first, women used pearly pins, but after the 19th Century diamond pins became widespread.
In some regions of Georgia, even the color of a lady’s headwear could tell you something about their social status. Married women preferred to wear a dark red or green headscarf, elderly women chose a black headdress that often covered their whole face. What’s more, Khevsurian single woman wore “Sataura” – a semi-arc headdress with ostentatious embroidery. Whereas a married woman had the privilege to add a square shaped “Mandili” on her head.
It should be noted that it was an honor for women to wear Mandili, as it represented a symbol of virtue. For instance, if two men were fighting each other and a woman dropped her Mandili between them, they had to stop quarreling in order to express respect towards her.
Even though the people in the mountainous regions of Georgia preferred to wear very simple clothes, rich Khevsurian women loved to sport silver neck chains. The jewellery was considered so important that every woman tried to have an eye-catching necklace, regardless of how heavy or uncomfortable it was.
Interestingly, archaeological expeditions revealed that the people of Georgia have been using belts with different buckles since the Bronze Age. Also, after the 9th Century, leather or fabric girdles were replaced by plaited and beaded belts.
As for footwear, leather boots were the most popular among the women of the low-lying areas. Conversely, in the mountainous regions, women knitted woolen socks called ‘Tati’. These socks were not only warm, but they were also highly decorated with striking buttons or colorful beads.
Given these points, traditional Georgian women’s clothing was an important way of defining their place in society. Altogether, traditional women’s clothing is so glamorous that even today many brides choose it as their wedding dress.