Clothing

Clothing is a very important part of Kurdish culture. Clothing differs between males and females, and is generally gender segregated. Occasionally women don the male-style trousers, button-up shirts and cummerbund in a more village setting, or when serving as soldiers, but this is uncommon. While styles vary from region to region, the basic outfits are as follows.

Kurdish dress for ladies and girls

Women wear a long floor-length dress (kras), often of light sheer fabric, with long sleeves, ending in a flared, dangling triangle (faqiana), which can be knotted together behind the dress, or wrapped and knotted individually around each arm.

Under the dress, a combination of a long, wide-strapped camisole (zher kras) and bloomers (derpey) of shimmering fabric are worn. Over the dress, a short vest is worn, usually of solid-coloured velvet-like fabric (helik). Alternatively, a long robe-like coat (kawa), with or without sleeves can be worn, or a short tailored jacket (sulta).

A red helik worn over the kras.

Iranian-style traditional dresses tend to be sewn differently, with slightly stiffer fabric, a gathered skirt, and contrasting or matching fabric draped around the shoulders and attached around the waste as a cummerbund. There are also other variations on these dresses and their adornments from region to region.

Accessories, such as long necklaces, earrings, bracelets, belts, and rings may complement the outfit, especially for special occasions. Married women often display the gold jewelry they received at their engagement or wedding. There are also a number of different decorated skull caps or head scarves with tassels that can be worn on the head. Traditionally, these would identify what region the wearer was from.

Another traditional element that is making a comeback is the women’s cape (kollwana). Most often, high-heeled shoes are worn, and the dress length comes to the floor with the heels on.


Kurdish dress for men and boys

Men typically wear a combination of loose, billowy trousers (sharwall) that taper at the bottom, with a matching jacket (mraxani) over a dress shirt (kras). Around the waist is wrapped a long narrow piece of lightweight fabric as a cummerbund (pshtwen/pshten). Many wear a traditional, handmade style shoe of white fabric called klash. Others wear well-polished dress shoes. In the more southern regions, a matching tailored shirt is worn instead of a jacket, and a utility cargo-style vest may be worn over it.

Older men tend to wear a skull cap (whose style often identifies their clan or town of origin), with a black and white checked scarf (jamana) wrapped around it, which provides protection from the cold or hot sun. Kerchiefs or shawls of varying colors (traditionally indicating party affiliation) may also be worn around the neck or shoulders to ward off cold or dust.

Something typical to Hawrami men’s outfits is a felted wool vest, called faranji in Sorani Kurdish and kullaball in Hawrami. It provides warmth in the winter and cools in the summer.

Video in Hawrami describing the faranji (English subtitles) Source: www.rudaw.net/english

Children wear smaller versions of the adult clothing.

Though many have now adopted more Western styles of clothing, many Kurdish people still regularly wear their traditional style clothing, if not for everyday wear, then at least for special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, picnics or official events. 

List of clothing terms

Following is a list of all the major clothing terms in the Sorani script and a Latini transliteration.

Women and Girls:

TransliterationSorani Kurdish
kras (dress)كراس
faqiana (long sleeve endings)فه‌قیانه‌
zher kras (long camisole)ژێر كراس
derpey (bloomers)ده‌رپێ
helik (vest)هێله‌ك
sulta (short jacket)سه‌ڵته‌
kawa (long coat, with / without sleeves)كه‌وا به‌ قۆڵ \ بێ قۆڵ
pshtwen / pshten & ser shan (Iranian style) (cummerbund & shawl, pinned in place)پشتوێن \ پشتێن و سه‌ر شان
mlwanka (necklace)ملوانكه
gwara (earrings)گواره‌
bazn (bracelet)بازن
mstila (ring)مستیله‌
pshtwen/pshten (belt)پشتوێن \ پشتێن
lechik (head scarf)له‌چك
klaw (decorated skull cap)كڵاو
kollwana (cape)كۆڵوانه‌
pelaw (shoes)پێلاو

Men and Boys:

TransliterationSorani Kurdish
sharwall (trousers)شه‌رواڵ
kras (dress shirt)كراس
mraxani (matching jacket)مراخانی
pshtwen/pshten (cummerbund)پشتوێن \ پشتێن
klash (cloth shoes)كلاش
klaw (skull cap)كڵاو
jamana (head kerchief)جامانه‌
shal (multipurpose cloth worn over shoulders)شاڵ
faranji / kulla ball (felted wool vest)فه‌ڕه‌نجی \ كوڵه‌ باڵ
faqiana (long sleeve endings)فه‌قیانه
puzawana (wool leg warmers)پووزه‌وانه‌