The Dorothy Methvin McClatchey Collection

Dress

Dress

Kohistan, Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan
1994.34.214
Early 20th Century

This beautifully embroidered costume comes from Kohistan, the mountainous region in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan. This region is home to a variety of Indo-European-speaking tribal peoples who resisted Islam as it spread eastward through Central Asia beginning in the eighth century CE. Traditional costumes from this region are made from hand-woven cotton and heavily embroidered with silk floss. The climate enables cotton to be grown locally and sericulture, the breeding of silk worms to produce silk, has been practiced in Central Asia since at least the sixth century CE. The hand-dyed cotton dress has a full pleated skirt and long open sleeves that are lined with small silver beads. The bodice and sleeves are embellished with colorful embroidery, including standard geometric, floral and regionally symbolic designs like the tree of life and ram's horns. In addition to the fine embroidery, a number of different items have been sewn or otherwise attached to the dress, including safety pins, Islamic coins dating between 1965 and 1975, glass beads and buttons of shell, plastic and brass.