A Safavid Persian Outfit: The Bala Push (بالاپوش)

A Safavid Persian Outfit: The Bala Push (بالاپوش)

Today’s post is about the top layer of the Safavid ensemble: the bala push (بالاپوش) or outer robe.  I am constructing mine based on the so-called “Dragon Robe” in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, a 16th century kaftan.  It is entirely made from rectangles and trapezoids with the extra-long sleeves and the lack of front overlaps we see in Persian miniatures.

The bala push is not an essential element of a woman’s outfit.  Many miniatures show women wearing multiple jame but nothing on top of them.  However the bala push is the layer given to display.  Who doesn’t want to show off their best stuff?  If you’re going to make an early Safavid outfit, there’s no reason not to make a bala push.  But know that you don’t have to wear it all the time.

I found the same cotton brocade I used for my upper jame but in orange and gold. I’ll be using that for the bala push. I’ll be lining it with black silk habotai. The cloud collar will be made from a piece of Chinese brocade I found that most resembled the cloud collars seen in Persian miniatures.  There will be no fastenings as the bala push is always worn open.

Construction couldn’t be simpler.  The pieces fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.  The super-long sleeves are similar to those of the jame, but these are longer and often sewn closed at the wrists.  The hands emerge through openings on the front of the bicep, leaving the rest of the sleeve to hang behind the arm as decoration.  The sleeves appear to be short in our Princess picture, but indications of the rest of the sleeve can be made out upon closer inspection.  It is thought that this manner of wearing sleeves is what inspired the 14th century fashion of tippets.

Next post…

The cloud collar.

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Bibliography

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Ferrier, R.W., ed. The Arts of Persia. 1989: Yale Universeity Press, New Haven & London.
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Pope, A.U. (ed), A Survey of Persian Art, London 1938-9, Vol. III text, Vol. VI plates
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Wace, A.J.B., ‘Some Safavid Silks at Burlington House’ in Burlington Magazine as above pp. 67-73
Welsh, Stuart Cary. Persian Painting: Five Royal Safavid Manuscripts of the Sixteenth Century. 1976: George Braziller, New York.


© 2018 Kass McGann. All Rights Reserved. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice, the author’s name and website, and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

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