Firouzeh Abedi English Transcript

Interviewee: Firouzeh Abedi

Interview date: August 16th, 2023

Interviewer: Zahra Falsafi

Where: Google meet

Length: 24 min 44 sec


Zahra: How old are you?

Firouzeh: Thirty-four.

Zahra: Where do you currently live?

Firouzeh: What do you mean? Which city? Shiraz.

Zahra: Have you always lived here?

Firouzeh: Yes. We were from one of the villages around Shiraz, then I came to Shiraz after being accepted to university.

Zahra: What do you do for a living?

Firouzeh: I am a judicial attorney.

Zahra: What type of education have you completed and where did you complete it?

Firouzeh: Bachelor’s in law from Shiraz University.

Zahra: What is your gender?

Firouzeh: Female.

Zahra: Are you in a relationship?

Firouzeh: Yes.

Zahra: Do you have children?

Firouzeh: No.

Zahra: Can you tell me about your extended family? How big is it?

Firouzeh: What do you mean by how many? I have to think a bit to remember how many there are.

Zahra: Yes, in terms of the number.

Firouzeh: They are quite large. How much should I say? I haven’t been in touch with them for a long time. Of course, I have to think to remember how many.

Zahra: So, they are very large.

Firouzeh: Yes.

Zahra: How much connection do you feel to your immediate or extended family?

Firouzeh: Very little. Maybe I’ll see them at weddings.

Zahra: Where do they live?

Firouzeh: In the city of Shiraz.

Zahra: Do you have any physical disabilities?

Firouzeh: No.

Zahra: What is your current household income level?

Firouzeh: Average to better, on the higher side.

Zahra: Do you have any religious affiliation?

Firouzeh: None.

Zahra: What does being Qashqai mean to you?

Firouzeh: Being Qashqai means being kind. It’s something cool to me. Plus, most people can tell just from the physical similarities. Wherever they go, they realize that I am Qashqai. The ethnicity, it comes in handy everywhere I go. It has some great options in my opinion.

Zahra: Was there a time when you felt more or less Qashqai than others?

Firouzeh: No, balanced. I mean, I don’t have a strong sense of pride if that’s what you mean. I don’t have much bias about this issue if that’s what you mean.

Zahra: For example, in two interviews I had with your sisters, they mentioned that when they were children, they felt less Qashqai than others in school or other places, and as they grew older, this feeling increased.

Firouzeh: Because their social interactions are much more. I don’t have many interactions with non-Qashqai people to say that I have less interaction with Qashqais. They are much more social.

Zahra: Have you ever felt negatively or positively about being Qashqai?

Firouzeh: Preferably, it has been a positive feeling. It’s like you have something extra compared to others; it’s something cool.

Zahra: Tell me about your experiences with the Qashqai community. How are you involved?

Firouzeh: Everyone knows each other very well. I don’t know many, but many know me. Involvement means that everyone recognizes each other. I might not know many of them, but many know me. The involvement is such that as soon as they know you’re Qashqai, they are sure you are family, even if you don’t know. For this reason, they are very helpful to you always. They all know, for example, they know his great-great-great-grandfather. They know exactly where you fit in, and if someone messes with you, they have your back. They have a good sense of community.

Zahra: What are the traditional garments and accessories that you wear?

Firouzeh: I wear the same local clothes that my grandmother always wore. I prefer not to update it like most Qashqai people. What I wear is the same as my grandmother wears. The jewelry I use is mainly the same, with a bit more sparkle but still the basic style. These things are good.

Zahra: Can you describe the clothes or jewelry you wear? What do they include?

Firouzeh: For example, a very long and frilly skirt that I call “Touman.” It’s a long dress with a unique style. It can only be worn with that skirt; you can’t wear it with something else. There’s also a formal turban that they tie on the head to keep the hair in place, and a scarf is on that turban. Sometimes, for winter, they wear something as a decorative element. Jewelry-wise, the main piece is a large pin that holds the four corners of the scarf on your head, and it has a scent stick and a bundle of herbs with a good fragrance. These are the essential items.

Zahra: What are the materials of the garments?

Firouzeh: No, I’m not exactly aware of it. I can’t tell you what it’s like or how it should be. More shiny with many beads, it should be shiny and sparkly.

Zahra: What colors do you wear?

Firouzeh: Mostly very natural colors, like cheerful colors such as green, red, and yellow. Very cheerful colors. For example, dull colors like pale pink are rarely seen among authentic Qashqai people; those are more for people from Fars who want to wear Qashqai clothing. Authentic Qashqais rarely wear these colors. For example, colors that are good for evening dresses, dirty pink, dirty beige, these are colors that our people don’t wear at all. These are not colors that I, as a Turk, would use.

Zahra: So, you mostly use natural colors?

Firouzeh: Yes, natural colors like red, green, orange. In terms of jewelry, I mentioned some herbal necklaces. They use natural plant-based beads, and for their color, since they are earthy, they color them. Most of the clothes also have the same color theme.

Zahra: What jewelry do you wear?

Firouzeh: The same, I said. That’s the essence. The same plant-based things, a herbal necklace with a very good smell. There are two different types of scent sticks, and the pin, these are the essential things. The rest are other types of jewelry that most women use, but they must have these.

Zahra: Where do you get these garments or accessories?

Firouzeh: Preferably from the local market, or, for example, there is a city where most of the people are Qashqai, like Firuzabad. There, they have very good markets. Everything can be found there.

Zahra: So, in the end, it’s like a market, right?

Firouzeh: Yes.

Zahra: Do you make them?

Firouzeh: What do you mean?

Zahra: For example, do you sew them yourself or make those jewelry items yourself? Personally, do you?

Firouzeh: Preferably, we take the fabric already sewn; no one buys it from Qashqai people unless you go to the market yourself and buy the fabric and then sew it at home.

Zahra: So, you give it to a tailor to sew?

Firouzeh: We give it to a tailor to sew. As for jewelry, they take the plant-based beads themselves and make their own necklace, with their own style and method. For example, those people in the market also made it, but they prefer to do it themselves. They like doing this work themselves.

Zahra: Do others make them for you?

Firouzeh: Preferably, we make them ourselves unless it’s the new generations, for example, like my sisters, our peers who don’t have much time for this, they go and buy, but my mother prefers to make them herself. She takes the raw materials and makes the jewelry herself at home.

Zahra: Were they handed down to you?

Firouzeh: Yes, many of them are like that.

Zahra: Only from your mother?

Firouzeh: Yes, many are from my mother because they don’t use them as much anymore. You see, they might have used Qashqai clothes in their everyday life before, but now they only wear them for ceremonies, so most of them come from my grandmother, my grandmother.

Zahra: Do you buy them from a store?

Firouzeh: Yes, you have to get the fabric from the market and give it to a tailor. We don’t buy ready-made clothes from the store.

Zahra: Why do you get them from the places you do?

Firouzeh: You can’t find those jewelry items anywhere else in Shiraz. If you want to look for them, you can only find them in the market, where you can get this amount of fabric. You can’t find this amount in a store that sells party dresses; you have to get it from the market.

Zahra: What meanings do the traditional dress have for you?

Firouzeh: It signifies vitality and happiness.

Zahra: Have these meanings changed over your lifetime?

Firouzeh: No, they haven’t changed.

Zahra: Do the meanings of the different traditional dress change when you are in different spaces or locations?

Firouzeh: What do you mean?

Zahra: For example, suppose that when you are in different spaces or places like weddings, villages, or any other location, does the meaning of your traditional clothing change according to you?

Firouzeh: From my perspective?

Zahra: Yes.

Firouzeh: For me, it’s the same as the feeling I have when I wear it at home or at a wedding; I can wear it on the street the same way. It’s nothing special for me. It’s something personal; you know how it feels. For example, this clothing is something I grew up with. It’s like my regular clothes; I can’t describe anything special about it, like saying it smells different when I wear it somewhere else.

Zahra: No?

Firouzeh: No.

Zahra: Do you think that some traditional dress is more authentic than others? Why?

Firouzeh: No, each has its own base, each has its own theme. We can’t say one is better or more authentic than the other, but personally, I don’t like the newer styles in Qashqai clothing. However, the base is the same for all of them.

Zahra: Does where you get it from make it more authentic?

Firouzeh: No, it doesn’t matter. We get the fabric from wherever we can, and the way it’s sewn, the model, is the same; it doesn’t change.

Zahra: Do different materials or who makes it make it more authentic?

Firouzeh: No, I don’t think so.

Zahra: Is it more authentic if you wear it in different spaces?

Firouzeh: Maybe, wearing it in different places might convey different messages, but I don’t think it changes anything about its authenticity. Even if I wear this clothing at a gathering or a wedding, where everyone is wearing something fancy, if I wear the same thing, it might seem out of place for me, not that it changes its authenticity.

Zahra: Maybe because the hair is visible?

Firouzeh: Yes, it’s because the bright colors of the clothing stand out, and they don’t conform to their accepted form.

Zahra: Do you not wear any parts of the “traditional” styles for any reason?

Firouzeh: No, I prefer to keep it the way my grandmother used to wear it. My mother wears it the same way, and I don’t want to change anything about it.

Zahra: How would you describe your feelings or attitudes toward traditional dress?

Firouzeh: It gives me a sense of calmness and belonging to a specific group.

Zahra: How would you describe your feelings when wearing traditional dress? For example, while making handicrafts?

Firouzeh: It becomes very joyful and brings a good mood. It’s interesting, though a bit heavy, and challenging to walk in, but it gives me a great feeling, enhances my mood, and feels really good. It’s something special for me.

Zahra: Do any of your other identities influence how you feel about your traditional dress?

Firouzeh: Overall, personally, I feel very secure and better in Turkish or local clothes. It gives me a much better feeling than the everyday clothes I use now if you mean that.

Zahra: Meaning, for example, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or even financial status have not had any specific impact on your feelings about wearing traditional clothes?

Firouzeh: In any case, it has a very good feeling for me; it can’t be changed by other things.

Zahra: What information have you learned about traditional dress from your interactions with others (for example, did your mother teach you about the different garments)?

Firouzeh: It’s something that has been transmitted from generation to generation; it’s not something I go back and learn about from the beginning in the family. It has been talked about in the family, and my mother has told me how it is. My grandmother also, my mother.

Zahra: So, the primary role is more with your mother and grandmother?

Firouzeh: Yes.

Zahra: What types of messages do you think society promotes about traditional dress? How do you relate to those messages?

Firouzeh: The promotion here is mostly that they don’t promote traditional clothing much; they hinder it in many places. I can’t use it much in the city at all, except for ceremonies.

Zahra: Due to the visibility of headscarves?

Firouzeh: That’s one reason, and I feel it’s because when you wear this clothing, there is a unity and solidarity with other Qashqai people. It’s something that they are very against here; they prefer each ethnicity to stay separate. Do you know what I mean? Having a symbol to get close to others and show solidarity is a bit challenging for them. From what I’ve understood, it has been like this so far. Having a symbol to connect with others and show solidarity is a bit difficult for them. Do you know what I mean?

Zahra: How do you relate to those messages? And I feel you don’t have a specific connection because it’s not promoted?

Firouzeh: No.

Zahra: What barriers are there to obtaining and wearing traditional dress?

Firouzeh: The cost is very high, and besides weddings, I can’t use it anywhere else. When I think about it, it’s really not feasible for just one wear.

Zahra: Can you share images of you wearing different traditional dress? As many as you’d like to share, but up to 10. For each image can you share: Where you are at in the image? Why are you wearing the traditional dress in that place? Is there any special meaning you have for this space or traditional dress in the image? (See Figures 1 and 2)

Firouzeh: 1: It is my uncle’s wedding

2: The wedding is Turkish and everyone wears local clothes

3: It doesn’t have any special meaning, according to customs and traditions, we always wear Turkish clothes

Woman sitting on the floor in front of a ring of flowers. She is smiling at the camera while wearing a floor-length skirt and a light-weight shawl on her shoulders.
Figure 1. Firouzeh Abedi, at a wedding

Zahra: Is there anything else that would be important to share about you, Qashqai identity, and traditional dress?

Firouzeh: I don’t think there’s anything special; you’ve asked me everything regularly.

Woman sitting and smiling at the camera in front of a background with natural palm leaves. She is wearing a full-length skirt and a fitted top. The top has numerous shiny sequins on it.
Figure 2. Firouzeh Abedi, photo shoot studio


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Qashqai Traditional Dress: An Oral History Project Copyright © 2024 by Zahra Falsafi and Kelly L. Reddy-Best is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.