The moroccan Jewish costume: the woman

This article is also available in: Italiano

Thanks to “History of Jewish costume” by Alfred Rubens, we continue our journey through the history of Moroccan Jewish clothing, this time focusing on the woman, very characteristic

Linen, silk and gold

In the last episode we had the opportunity to confront 3 different texts, this time, however, our point of reference will be only one: the diary of William Lempriere, a British doctor who between 1789 and 1794 found himself operating in Morocco. I am really convinced that in her description, so detailed and precise, you can truly observe the royalty of Moroccan Jews, still legendary in the world today.

“The Jewish women’s dress consists of a fine linen shirt, with large and wide sleeves, which hang almost touching the ground; on the shirt they wear a caftan, a loose dress made of wool, or velvet, of every color, which falls up to the hips and covers the whole body, except the neck and chest, which are open; the edges of the caftan are embroidered in gold.

Moroccan Jews

An addition to this is the “geraldito”, or petticoats, made of fine green wool, the edges and corners of which are decorated with gold; this part of the dress is fastened by a wide band of silk and gold, which surrounds the waist, and allows its ends to hang easily.

The queens of the mellah

“When they go out, they cover it all up with the haick. The same used by Moorish women. Unmarried Jews make several folds of their braids and leave them dangling behind; and for this it has become a very graceful method of putting on a wreath of silk worked around the head and try to close it at the back with a bow.This dress highlights their characteristics, distinguishing them from married women, who cover their heads with a silk handkerchief, leaving the ends free on the back.

Moroccan Jews

None of the Jews wear stockings, but red slippers, curiously embroidered with gold. They have a very large gold earring in the lower part of the ears and, in the upper part, 3 small earrings with pearls or precious stones. Their necks are loaded with beads, and their fingers with little rings of gold and silver; large and massive silver bracelets are attached around each wrist and ankle. And the rich have gold and silver chains suspended from the sash behind. […] Like the Moors, Jewish men and women eat separately, and the former are not allowed to go out, except for special occasions.

William Lemprière

We hope to have been as complete as possible, we are waiting for you for the last episode on the moroccan Jewish costume: the one on the bride.

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Moroccan Jews

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