Sahar Abedi English Transcript

Interviewee: Sahar Abedi

Interview date: August 16th, 2023

Interviewer: Zahra Falsafi

Where: Google meet

Length: 28 min 18 sec


Zahra: How old are you?

Sahar: I’m twenty-four years old.

Zahra: Where do you currently live?

Sahar: I live in Shiraz, a city in Iran.

Zahra: Have you always lived there?

Sahar: When I was a child, I lived in a village, but later we moved to the city.

Zahra: What do you do for a living?

Sahar: I used to be a student, but I have finished my studies, and I don’t have a job right now.

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

Sahar: I have a bachelor’s degree in law from Shiraz University.

Zahra: What is your gender?

Sahar: Female.

Zahra: Are you in a relationship?

Sahar: No.

Zahra: Do you have children?

Sahar: No.

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

Sahar: They are relatively large. I have three uncles and seven aunts.

Zahra: So, your extended family is quite numerous, correct?

Sahar: Yes, and we have a good relationship with them.

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

Sahar: It’s moderate; we see each other at gatherings, weddings, and have normal interactions.

Zahra: Where do they live?

Sahar: Most of them live in Shiraz.

Zahra: They live in the city, not in the village, right?

Sahar: Yes, they live in the city, except for one of my uncles.

Zahra: Do you have any physical disabilities?

Sahar: No.

Zahra: What is your current household income level?

Sahar: It’s average.

Zahra: Do you have a religious affiliation?

Sahar: No, I don’t consider myself a religious person.

Zahra: What does being Qashqai mean to you?

Sahar: Being Qashqai means being able to wear traditional and colorful clothing at gatherings and weddings, dancing together to the special Qashqai songs, and having something that gives us a distinct identity and a connection to our roots alongside our Persian identity and living in Shiraz, for example.

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

Sahar: I think when I was younger, I had this feeling less. But as I grew older and wanted to get to know myself and understand my identity, I realized that it’s a need for me to return to the identity that my parents have. As I got older, I felt more connected to that Qashqai identity.

Zahra: So, it was because of your childhood?

Sahar: Yes.

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

Sahar: Yeah, there are some things that give me a negative feeling within our culture, like the perception that they might assign a higher value to men in their relationships with women. But this is something that exists within their culture. On the positive side, I feel that they have a culture of joy. For example, they dance a lot, wear colorful clothes, and express this happiness through their attire.

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

Sahar: We are more familiar with this culture mostly because of my mother, as both her father and mother were Qashqai. She always made a great effort to familiarize us completely with this culture. In general, I feel that I immerse myself in many of the occasions that occur. For example, if someone passes away, there are specific ceremonies that the Qashqai people have. Now, if I want to talk about clothing, everyone should wear black colors. And if you’re a woman whose husband has passed away, and there are weddings happening afterward, and you want to participate, you must wear a black and dark-colored outfit. You shouldn’t wear bright colors. Also, as you get older, you should always wear darker colors. Because of these traditions, I see myself getting involved in everyday life, whether I want it or not.

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

Sahar: We have to wear “charqad” (a type of headwear), headscarves, and wear a shirt. After that, we put on a skirt. Each of these items should follow a specific color scheme. For example, our “charqad” should match the color of our skirt. It’s better this way. But if you don’t do it, it’s still okay. The key principle is to follow these rules. As for jewelry, we have bracelets, brooches, earrings, and rings, and we try to maintain their traditional and colorful aspects. “Malhu” (a type of necklace) is something that the Turks people, especially brides, use. It’s essential for a bride to wear it on her wedding night. Typically, women keep these items for several years, and even after their wedding, they can wear them at various gatherings or events.

Zahra: Are you wearing skirts as well, right?

Sahar: Yes, we also wear skirts. Usually, we wear a few layers underneath the skirt to give it a puffy look, a few layers.

Zahra: What are the materials of the garments?

Sahar: Well, the choice of fabric depends on the specific fabric you choose. It could be silk, for example. I don’t have much knowledge about fabrics myself, but usually, the pattern of the fabric is essential for me. However, there isn’t usually a requirement for a specific type of fabric. We typically go to the market and choose fabrics that look beautiful to us.

Zahra: So, you don’t have much knowledge about the fabric material?

Sahar: No.

Zahra: But they are a bit expensive, right?

Sahar: Yes, depending on the embroidery and decorations, like if there’s beadwork or sequins, it can increase the value.

Zahra: What colors do you wear?

Sahar: I prefer to wear bright and colorful clothing most of the time. I like to mix and match different colors, so my shirt and skirt are not necessarily the same color because I feel it adds variety to my outfit. Typically, I like my skirts to be one color, and my shirts to be a different color, and I often choose cheerful and vibrant colors.

Zahra: What jewelry do you wear?

Sahar: Usually, our mothers really like to use gold, and it’s important to them that, for example, their brooches are made of gold. Young people, on the other hand, don’t have much interest in this, especially when it comes to their jewelry. Personally, I prefer to use artificial jewelry. For instance, I always wear bracelets, but I don’t like rings.

Zahra: Where do you get these garments or accessories?

Sahar: We get them from the market.

Zahra: Do you make them?

Sahar: Yes, for example, we can make our own bracelets, and if we want it to be simple, we create it with beadwork. Everyone does it according to their taste. As for the Charqad, we can wear a simple one, but we can also add embroidery to it. Usually, we draw the patterns and work on it with beads and sequins ourselves, but if we want, we can buy one from the market, meaning we can buy a Charqad that already has embroidery on it.

Zahra: Do others make them for you?

Sahar: Yes, there are some people who charge a fee to create the designs we like and apply them to our Charqad using beadwork. If we want, we can also entrust this task to someone else, or if we prefer, we can do it ourselves.

Zahra: Is that person an ordinary individual, or do they have expertise in this field? Or are they specialized?

Sahar: Usually, there are individuals who do this work alongside tailoring, or they work with tailors. For example, a tailor who makes clothes may know someone whose specialty is beadwork. While it’s possible to do beadwork ourselves, it can be time-consuming and straining on the neck, so sometimes it’s preferable to entrust this task to someone else who can do it more quickly and charge a fee for their services. So, yes, there are individuals who are specifically known for this type of work.

Zahra: And the choice of designs, is it up to you to decide whether you want to give it to those individuals to make or not?

Sahar: Yes, it depends on each individual’s preference. If you want your clothing to be very elegant, you can have someone work on your Charqad, but if you prefer it to be simple, you can just sew it onto your Charqad yourself.

Zahra: Were they handed down to you, like from your mother or someone else?

Sahar: Yes, usually, our mothers keep their jewelry for their daughters. As for traditional clothes, we don’t use them much. For example, from one wedding to another, it can take four or five years. So, we can use the same clothes for a long time. We even have clothes that are ten years old and still wearable. So, if the clothes are still suitable and in good condition, we use them. There’s no need to buy new ones.

Zahra: So, do you mean that your mothers keep the jewelry and then pass it to their daughters when they grow up or get married?

Sahar: Yes, for example, she can pass her jewelry and accessories, like the brooch, to her daughter. The brooch is important, and when she passes away, her daughter will definitely inherit the brooch. Her son may not be able to wear the brooch because it serves no purpose for him. What I’ve seen is that when someone passes away, it often feels like the mother’s jewelry and accessories, as well as her clothing, are inherited by her daughter.

Zahra: By “brooch,” do you mean the chest brooch or the one they use under their headscarves?

Sahar: Yes, I mean the brooch that they use to secure the headscarf and keep it in place.

Zahra: Do you buy them from a store?

Sahar: Yes, you can usually find them in stores and markets. For example, I haven’t seen many goldsmiths, unless it’s something I hear a lot, like getting a brooch custom-made for them. It’s less common to see people go out and find, for example, a gold brooch in gold shops, but you can find replacements in costume jewelry stores. However, if you want it to be made of gold and have a specific design, they usually give it to a goldsmith to make it for them.

Zahra: So, you mostly obtain clothes and jewelry from the market, right?

Sahar: Yes, that’s correct.

Zahra: Why do you buy clothes and jewelry from the market, for example? Is it easier, or does it hold special value for you?

Sahar: When we go to the Bazaar, it’s like we have everything in one place. For example, we can go to one section of the market to get jewelry, another section for fabrics, and another if we want to get embroidery or buttons. So, first of all, everything is in one place, making it more convenient for us. Also, the market has a more traditional feel to it. For instance, we like all our clothes to have a traditional touch, and not just any fabric will do. The fabric needs to have a suitable design for our clothing. We’ve always gone to the market; it’s never been like going to a store, except for some jewelry items like bracelets or earrings that can be worn with any outfit.

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

Sahar: I think it shows that each person has their own identity and a unique past. It also highlights how people can be different from each other and have diverse backgrounds.

Zahra: Have these meanings changed over your lifetime?

Sahar: Yes, it has definitely changed for me. I think when I was younger, I didn’t feel very comfortable with these differences, especially when it came to age and maturity. But as I grew older, I realized that being different can often mean being unique and it can be a good thing for each individual.

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

Sahar: No, I feel that traditional dress always has its own special meaning. It represents an identity.

Zahra: So, you mean the meaning of the dress doesn’t change, right?

Sahar: Yes, I don’t think it changes; it remains the same.

Zahra: Do you think that some traditional dress is more authentic than others? If yes, why?

Sahar: Yes, I feel that some traditional clothes are more authentic, while others are not. It’s because you can see that some of them have become more modern. The clothing has changed; for example, you can see that 20 years ago, people wore them differently, but now they wear them in a way that includes elements from their own culture. The clothing doesn’t remain in the past; it seems to have found a more modern style. So yes, I think some traditional clothes are more authentic.

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

Sahar: No, I think it depends on the choices you make. You can acquire anything wherever it is available, but the place itself is not a criterion.

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

Sahar: No.

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

Sahar: No, I don’t think so. Traditional clothing has its own identity, and it doesn’t change in different spaces.

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

Sahar: Yes, for example, in Turkish clothing, some people wear a vest over their clothes. Sometimes, when I feel that it might be a bit restrictive for dancing or I feel too hot, I choose not to wear it.

Zahra: Is it purely for comfort?

Sahar: Yes, it’s because of comfort.

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

Sahar: Excitement, I think I can have that feeling, and the sense of happiness and energy I can get.

Zahra: Is it because of their colors, which are mostly cheerful?

Sahar: Yes, exactly. I feel that these colors convey one’s emotions because, for example, at weddings, we wear bright colors, and in times of sorrow, we should wear dark colors. It’s just a means to express our emotions.

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

Sahar: Full of energy and vivacity. The dress really gives a lot of energy.

Zahra: Do any of your other identities, like race, ethnicity, gender, religion, body size, influence how you feel about your traditional dress? Does any of these beliefs have an impact on your feelings about traditional clothing?

Sahar: No, I don’t think they have an impact on the feeling I have.

Zahra: So, it’s your identity, the identity you have, or the beliefs you have, don’t affect your feelings about traditional dress? Is that correct?

Sahar: No, it doesn’t affect it. Can you please clarify your question again?

Zahra: Sure, for example, consider race, ethnicity, you being a woman, someone’s religion, or whether someone is overweight or slim. Any of these factors I mentioned, like race, ethnicity, your gender, your religion, clothing size, body size, or any of these, have they influenced your feelings about traditional dress? Have they been impactful?

Sahar: In my opinion, they haven’t been impactful. Traditional clothing has always been separate from these issues, whether you’re overweight or slim, whatever your religion is, it has its own identity, and it seems like a separate entity.

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

Sahar: Yes, my mother has played the most important role, and I think this is common in all Turkish families. For example, we can’t learn it ourselves because we might not have many Turkish friends, especially when we go to school. For example, in Shiraz, as you grow up, you can’t wear traditional clothing to school because it seems that you’re the only Turkish one; others are Shirazi. And anyone who doesn’t wear traditional clothing, you can think of them as mothers who teach their daughters. We also have mothers who dress us before going to weddings. For example, she makes sure that the length of our skirt matches the floor; she says that the color should match. So, she supervises it, and I think women are doing this generation after generation, passing it on to the next generation.

Zahra: What types of messages do you think society promotes about traditional dress? Such as through advertisements or banners?

Sahar: Personally, I haven’t seen anything that promotes traditional clothing. I think it’s because Turks are a minority, and society doesn’t spend money on promoting their clothing. I haven’t seen anything like that.

Zahra: How do you relate to those messages? I feel like because there hasn’t really been anything, you couldn’t relate to them, right?

Sahar: Yes, I haven’t had any connection because I haven’t seen anything until now. I personally haven’t seen anything.

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

Sahar: There are no obstacles, in my opinion. It depends on your taste. Sometimes you may want to use a more affordable fabric because the fabric is very expensive. For example, you might prefer to use a cheaper fabric for the shirt and a more expensive one for the skirt. There are no obstacles unless it’s about the cost.

Zahra: Thank you very much, Sahar. Thank you for doing this interview with me. In the last part, which is about pictures, I would like you to share any images you have that show you wearing different traditional dress. If you can share them with me, I would greatly appreciate it. If you could provide a maximum of ten pictures, and for each picture, could you tell me where you are in that picture? Why you are wearing traditional clothing in that place? And if there are any special meanings for you when you wore traditional dress in those places? And then, after you send the pictures, could you give me a brief description of where you are in those pictures? (See Figures 1, 2, 3, and 4)

Sahar: Yes, I can do that because I have pictures.



Zahra: Can you give me a brief explanation now? Like, you sent me the photos, so give me some details.

Sahar: Do you want me to tell you where I wore these clothes?

Zahra: Yes, where did you wear the clothes? And why did you wear them in that place?

Sahar: I mostly wore traditional clothes at weddings. It’s as if I can say that I’ve only worn traditional clothing at weddings so far. For example, my uncle’s wedding and engagement were Turkish, and yes, because Turkish weddings have Turkish songs, everyone wears Turkish clothes. If you want to dance, you have to wear Turkish clothes. It doesn’t feel good at all, for example, if you wear formal clothing and go to others who are all wearing Turkish clothes. So because of this Turkish atmosphere, I had to wear Turkish clothes, and also because I wanted to dance to Turkish songs, that was one of the reasons. It doesn’t feel good at all when you are someone who is Turkish and Qashqai and you want to wear formal clothing. Others don’t appreciate it either, especially the grandparents, they don’t accept it, especially if it’s a wedding. So for your own comfort and to enjoy yourself better, it’s best to wear Turkish clothes.

Woman sitting and posing for the camera. She is wearing a floor-length skirt, a shawl, and a fabric head covering.
Figure 3. Sahar Abedi, at a wedding

Zahra: Is there any special meaning for you when you wear traditional dress in those places?

Sahar: It’s the same issue that our identity is like this, and we arrange our gatherings in this way. Having something very special and different is not something occasional; it’s something we do all the time.

Zahra: Thank you very much. One final question: is there anything else about your identity as a Qashqai and traditional clothing that you would like to share with us?

Sahar: No, I feel that the questions were very comprehensive, and I was able to say everything I wanted to say. There’s nothing else to add.

Woman is sitting and looking at the camera. She is wearing a floor-length skirt, a shawl, and a head covering.
Figure 4. Sahar 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.