Today’s post is about the layer worn just above the kamiz, the jame (جامه) or inner robe.
Typically two jame are worn. The innermost jame is closed with a fastener at the throat (often a single round button) and open to the waist where it is either sewn together, buttoned closed, or caught with a sash. It is floor length although nothing much is seen of it since it is under the upper jame. In our picture of the Safavid princess from 1541, you can only see her navy blue inner jame through the front opening of her other layers of clothing and a very little sliver on her right wrist just beyond the end of her upper jame.
I’m using a blue and gold silk brocade I got from an Indian handweaver for my innermost jame. There are two reasons for this. One, this fabric almost exactly matches the inner jame in my picture of the princess from 1541. Hurrah for kismet! Two, I have 3 and 2/3 yards but the fabric is only 28″ wide, so I don’t have enough to make a full robe. Using it for the innermost jame is a way for me to cheat and make it sleeveless and no one will notice. Hell, I don’t even have enough to make side gores so my inner jame will be open from the waist down on the sides (but not in front).
The upper jame has a V-shaped neck opening and is closed from the waist to the floor. It has long sleeves that cover the hands but are worn pushed up at the wrists. In the picture of the princess, we can see how long the sleeves of this jame are by the fact that her left sleeve completely covers her hand and only her handkerchief can be seen in the picture. As you can also see in the detail picture at left, the skirts of the upper jame (and under jame) are closed to the hem. This may have been the artist’s depiction of modesty, but women are usually shown with their knees covered by their jame and no opening in sight. Sometimes we see dancers with an obvious center opening in their upper jame as shown in the illustration below. This is a detail picture from “Alexander the Great enjoying an outdoor entertainment” in a 1540 edition of the Khamsa of Nizami. Our dancer is presumably in motion, so her outer jame (white with gold spots) has opened a little below the knees. It’s obvious that it is otherwise closed from the waist down. And her inner jame (blue with gold spots) is not open at all at the hem.
I’m using a light blue and gold cotton brocade for my upper jame. Again, my choice is based on the fact that this fabric matches that in the picture of the princess from 1541 almost identically. I also have enough of it to make the jame floor length with extra-long sleeves, thus making up for my lack of enough silk brocade for the inner jame. No one will ever know but you and me!
It looks like the princess’s jame is lined with white, so I’m going to line it with handkerchief weight linen. No need to face it since I likely won’t be putting an opening down the front for the facings to show.
The bala push (بالاپوش) or “Arab” robe.
Get Reconstructing History’s best info on Safavid clothing for yourself:
Ackerman, P., ‘The Gold Brocades of Isfahan’ in Apollo, XIII, 1931, ‘Ghiyath, Persian Master Weaver’ in Apollo XVIII, 1933
______, ”Persian Textiles’ in CIBA Review, No. 98, 1953
Bier, C (ed), Woven from the Soul, Spun from the Heart: Textile Arts of Safavid and Qajar Iran, Textile Museum, Washington DC, 1987
Canby, Shiela. Persian Painting. 1993: Interlink Books, Northampton, MA.
Ferrier, R.W., ed. The Arts of Persia. 1989: Yale Universeity Press, New Haven & London.
Gervers, V. “Construction of Turkmen Coats.” In Textile History, 14 (1), 3-37, 1983.
Housego, J., ‘Honour is according to Habit: Persian dress in the 16th and 17th centuries’ in Apollo, XCIII, 1971
Kendrick, A.F., ‘The Persian Exhbition: Textiles: A General Survey’ in Burlington Magazine, LVIII, 1931, pp. 15-27
Pope, A.U. (ed), A Survey of Persian Art, London 1938-9, Vol. III text, Vol. VI plates
Reath, N.A. and E B Sachs, Persian Textiles and their Techniques from the 6th to the 18th centuries, New Haven, 1937
Scarce, Jennifer. Women’s Costume of the Near and Middle East. Unwin Hyman, London, 1987.
Shirazi-Mahajan, Faegheh. Costumes and Textiles Designs of the Il-Khanid, Timurid and Safavid Dynasties in Iran from the Thirteenth to the Seventeenth Century. 1985: The Ohio State University.
Upton, J.M., ‘Notes on Persian Costumes of the 16th and 17th centuries’ in Metropolitan Museum Studies, Vol. III,Pt. 2, 1930
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.
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