Zahra Abedi English Transcript

Interviewee: Zahra Abedi

Interview date: August 16th, 2023

Interviewer: Zahra Falsafi

Where: Google meet

Length: 26 min 44 sec


Zahra: How old are you?

Abedi: I am thirty-two.

Zahra: Where do you currently live?

Abedi: Shiraz.

Zahra: Have you always lived here?

Abedi: No. I used to live in the village.

Zahra: What do you do for a living?

Abedi: I am a lawyer.

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

Abedi: I have a bachelor’s degree in literature and a bachelor’s degree in law, after which I took the bar exam. I studied my bachelor’s degree in literature at Kazerun University. I also have a bachelor’s degree at Darun Azad University.

Zahra: What is your gender?

Abedi: I am a woman.

Zahra: Are you in a relationship?

Abedi: No.

Zahra: Do you have children?

Abedi: No.

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

Abedi: In what way, for example?

Zahra: In terms of number.

Abedi: Oh, you mean all of them?

Zahra: Yes.

Abedi: It can be said that we have a very big family on both sides. Because from the father’s side, there is also a stepchild. Too many. On my mother’s side, I have about eight aunts and uncles, all together. We are big. We are crowded.

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

Abedi: Well, for Turks, those relations are a little closer. Our relationship is more than usual, now it’s the rest of the people.

Zahra: Where do they live?

Abedi: They are all from Shiraz.

Zahra: Do you have any physical disabilities?

Abedi: No.

Zahra: What is your current household income level?

Abedi: Now, considering the economic condition, it will be average, I think.

Zahra: Do you have a religious affiliation?

Abedi: No.

Zahra: What does being Qashqai mean to you?

Abedi: Being a Qashqai, well, as you said, it is a part of our identity, we grew up with it, which makes us more special than some things. That’s why it’s good because there is something special for us.

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

Abedi: More or less? Well, since my father is not Turkish, now, for example, his father’s side is not Turkish, but on his mother’s side, all of them are Turkish, sometimes we feel that we are a little less Turkish now.

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

Abedi: The positives have been much more than the negatives. Maybe in the early days, we were a bit bothered, like when we were younger. But as we get older, it makes us have more self-confidence and like it more.

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

Abedi: In what way?

Zahra: For example, you just said that you are from Qashqai mother’s side of the family. It’s true? You can, for example, from experience…

Abedi: We are also Qashqai from the father’s side. On the paternal side, on the one hand, we are not only Turkish, that means we are also on the paternal side.

Zahra: For example, I wanted to say that, could you explain about Qashqai society from your own experience?

Abedi: For example, they find it easier to dress comfortably. Now, because of the clothes they wear, they interact much more comfortably compared to others. In some things, they might be a bit more sensitive than others, but when it comes to clothing, it can be said that they are much more comfortable than others. That’s why our relationships are more intimate, even within the family and such, we are much more comfortable with each other in general.

Zahra: So you are involved in this society mostly because of your parents now?

Abedi: Yes

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

Abedi: There is a Charqad, do I have to explain the whole dress?

Zahra: Yes, all the things that you personally wear, tell me what they are.

Abedi: There are socks, handkerchiefs, skirts, and shirts along with some other items. Now, those who want to dress more traditionally, for example, there is something called “Arkhaleq” which is like a vest that is worn over the main clothing. Some people wear it. There’s also something called “Kolahche,” which is a hat-like accessory used to hold these handkerchiefs and such, and they pin it all together. There’s another item called a “Mahlu,” which is like a scented neck accessory, usually colorful, and it gives off a nice fragrance. These are probably the essentials you’ve seen. Some older individuals, for instance, use something called a “Gompol,” and they tie it to their wrist or to their handkerchief, a small piece of cloth.

Zahra: Where do they tie their hands?

Abedi: They tie it on their arm or on the back of their handkerchief, those who really want to wear authentic wear it like this.

Zahra: What are the materials of the garments?

Abedi: The fabric used is typically patterned and can be described as having sequin. It’s somewhat decorative, and now it even has embroidery and beads. We used to make them ourselves, even the embroidery and beads. Nowadays, everyone pretty much attaches “Charqad” themselves.

Zahra: And do you know what the base material of those fabrics you use with bead embroidery is?

Abedi: I’m not sure about the specific fabric used now, but for the “Charqad” that I embroider, there is usually organza underneath, which gives it a slightly dry and puffy texture. As for the trim, if I want it to be embroidered, I’m not sure about the specific term, but it might have a particular name.

Zahra: So it is the net that you use?

Abedi: There is a net that I can embroider with beadwork because I want to embroider beads, basically the net is then a satin under it so that it can show itself better, but they are separate. It is separate that it has embroidered beads, which is comfortable, then there is a satin underneath.

Zahra: What colors do you wear?

Abdi: All colors.

Zahra: Happy colors?

Abdi: Generally, Turkish clothing has more cheerful colors, but in general, we wear a bit less vibrant colors. Some people, for example, wear a single color for their “Charqad,” and it varies for their shirts and “Tomoun.” Usually, “Charqad” and shirts are a single color, and they wear a single color for handkerchiefs and “Tomoun.”

Zahra: What kind of jewelry do you wear?

Abdi: As I mentioned earlier, it’s mostly the brooch that’s essential. They usually put a small brooch on it. Now, those who are more traditional, like my mother and others, they wear gold, for example, a gold brooch. For instance, “Mahlu,” I’m not sure if it’s considered jewelry, but if we want to include it, it’s like a small fragrance container that they put on. And, of course, bracelets and other accessories like rings are also common.

Zahra: Where do you get these garments or accessories?

Abedi: Mostly from the Vakil Bazaar.

Zahra: Do you make them?

Abedi: Yes, we used to, even the brooches and such, but now most of the time, we buy them from the market. Nowadays, most people do it for “Charqad” themselves because it’s simpler.

Zahra: Do others make them for you?

Abedi: Yes, there are tailors and such who will do it for a fee, or you can give them the design you want, and they’ll make it for you. They’ll also make the brooch and other accessories for you according to the design, and then attach them to the “Tomoun.”

Zahra: Were they handed down to you?

Abedi: They come from my mother, but now they use them themselves most of the time. But yes, we still get them from our mothers.

Zahra: Do you buy them from a store?

Abedi: Which ones?

Zahra: Your clothes and jewelry.

Abedi: Yes, from the Vakil Bazaar. It’s a place where you can find everything you need, and there are plenty of shops for these kinds of things. If you want a brooch, for example, there are shops specializing in that.

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

Abedi: Because it’s like a collection where everything is available, it has a wide variety of fabrics, including fabrics specific to Turkish clothing. When you enter, it’s easy to tell that it’s for Turkish clothing because the fabrics are different. The fabrics are busier and heavier compared to fabrics for formal clothing and other types of clothing. It’s mainly for local clothing.

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

Abedi: different from the original?

Zahra: Yes.

Abedi: So, do they want to wear this Turkish dress in a different way or a completely different dress?

Zahra: Either this Turkish dress or a completely different one.

Abedi: Some people wear this Turkish dress in a different style, like making it shorter or changing the neckline. Personally, I don’t like it. I prefer to wear the original one as it was. But as for other clothes, I haven’t really tried, so I don’t have a strong opinion. In my opinion, our traditional clothes look more beautiful and authentic.

Zahra: Have these meanings changed over your lifetime?

Abedi: Changed in what sense?

Zahra: The meanings of wearing traditional clothes, the significance of wearing traditional clothes. Has it changed for you throughout your life?

Abedi: I might not have understood correctly. In the past, we used to wear this traditional dress more often, especially at our weddings. But now, considering that these occasions have become less frequent, I feel more comfortable wearing formal or ceremonial attire. If your question was about this, yes, I am more at ease with it. However, in the past when the emphasis was more on traditional clothing, it was something everyone wore, and we did too. But nowadays, it’s more common to wear formal attire because it’s much more convenient. It’s true that the Turkish dress has its own charm, but wearing it can be a bit challenging. It’s almost eight kilos, so when you put all the pieces together, it becomes quite heavy.

Zahra: I think dancing with it must be quite challenging.

Abedi: Yes, especially if you want to dance with it from the beginning, after an hour, two hours, you’ll get really tired.

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

Abedi: No. I like it. It’s not like I’m in a different crowd or place, and I want to change it based on what others are saying. No, because this beautiful thing, everyone loves it. Everyone has a positive view of it.

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

Abedi: I think it depends on the traditional clothes you have and, for example, the Turkish clothes we have. They are more beautiful because they are specific to us, and we grew up with them from childhood. In our view, they are more authentic compared to other clothes because they haven’t changed much over time. In that sense, yes, in my opinion, Turkish clothes are more beautiful and authentic compared to others.

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

Abedi: Yes. It depends on where you get them. For example, if you want to make significant changes to them, I don’t think it works very well here. When you look in the Vakil Bazaar, for example, they all have a similar style; they are all in a similar pattern, which is specific to Turkish clothes. If you want to make significant changes to them, it may not turn out very well. This is my personal opinion.

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

Abedi: Yes, one hundred percent. Even tailoring, if they want to sew it for you, can affect it. For example, if they want to adjust the size, like how loose or tight it is, or if they want to make the sleeves shorter or longer, all of these can change it.

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

Abadi: What kind of spaces are you referring to?

Zahra: In most cases, like if you wear it at weddings, for example, or maybe if you wear it at parties, or even if you go back to the village and want to wear it there, or if you just want to wear it on a daily basis, do you think wearing it in different places makes it more authentic?

Abedi: I don’t think these factors have much influence, especially considering how difficult it is to wear these clothes in the first place. It’s not very common for someone to expect you to wear Turkish clothes when you go out. People might wear them at weddings or other special occasions, but it’s still challenging to wear them regularly. Authenticity is inherent in these clothes, and they don’t need to change based on different situations.

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

Abedi: For example, some people don’t wear “Arkhalogh,” and they wear it mostly without Arkhalogh. I like wearing Arkhalogh myself, whether it’s winter or summer. In any case, I wear it. But some people mostly skip this part. Except for that, the rest cannot be skipped. For instance, the “Kolahche” is a part that some people don’t put on. It’s mostly because it makes your headscarf look properly arranged. It’s not very noticeable, but you can’t skip the rest. You can’t skip any part of it. For example, if you don’t wear the “Charqad,” and only wear a headscarf, especially if someone’s hair is not visible, it’s really bad, and it’s known by others as well that they are wearing it this way.

Zahra: So, in general, there’s nothing from that traditional and local style that you don’t wear; you wear everything, right?

Abedi: We wear everything, yes.

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

Abedi: Traditional clothes, for me, are more colorful, and they appear happier because they have more colors. Also, depending on the occasion, they describe it in their own way. I like it because it can show you which region it belongs to. Even just one outfit can show this, and I like it for that reason.

Zahra: So, you get a good feeling.

Abedi: Yes.

Zahra: How would you describe your feelings when wearing traditional dress?

Abedi: It’s a feeling that makes you proud. I don’t know how to put it, but it’s a good feeling that makes you feel like you belong to a place or it makes you different from others. It gives you a unique identity, and I like it for that reason. It’s good.

Zahra: Or for example, when you’re making handicrafts or, let’s say, if you’re embroidering those beads on Charqad, do you have a special feeling at that moment?

Abadi: Yes, when you do that, it gives you a unique identity. It’s something that sets you apart from others or gives you a special identity, and I like that about it. It’s good.

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

Abedi: I don’t think if I were to answer, it would be too general. I don’t think, for example, that my Turkish clothes influence my feelings about them in terms of my appearance. Right now, because they are much longer, I would prefer them to be a bit shorter because Turkish clothes naturally make them look much taller. It bothers me a little in that regard. If I want to talk about it in terms of appearance, it’s because it makes me look a bit taller than I am, and I like that.

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)?

Abedi: Our clothes, yes. Both my mother and my grandmother, as we lived with my grandmother, my mother, and my grandmother, all influenced how you should wear them, how to wear them correctly, even how to fold them, and where to tie them. It’s all very specific, and if you don’t wear them correctly, it looks bad. It’s something very noticeable from afar. They say Turks, especially, are very sensitive about it. Whether it’s too small or too big, they are very particular about it, so yeah, my mother and grandmother influenced us a lot when we were kids.

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

Abedi: I haven’t particularly noticed anything about Qashqai Turks, especially the fact that their hair is visible even if they wear something to cover it, like a headscarf. That’s not something we see, and if they want to promote it, the image they present is not something we accept, especially as Qashqai Turks.

Zahra: How do you relate to those messages? And I guess because there hasn’t been any specific message, you can’t establish any special connection, right?

Abedi: No, we didn’t have any special connection in that way.

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

Abedi: It’s quite expensive. If you want to have an ordinary dress made now, you can say it would cost much more than the budget we currently have. The tailoring is expensive because the craftsmanship is highly regarded and costs a lot. The fabric also requires a lot, and then there are the accessories, which are usually made of gold. The cost adds up significantly when we consider these things.

Zahra: Thank you very much. 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?

Abedi: 1. It was my cousin’s wedding.

2. Most of our weddings involve traditional attire, which is why we often have two ceremonies, one in Turkish and the other in formal attire.

3. Because we all wear the same type of clothing and perform our Turkish dance, we feel a closer connection to each other. It brings us closer to our identity and authenticity.

Zahra: Is there anything else about your identity as a Qashqai and traditional clothing that you would like to share with us?

Abedi: I think the questions you asked were so comprehensive that I’ve covered everything there was to say. I can’t think of anything else to add in this regard. But personally, I would like to be able to continue wearing these clothes and preserving them in the future, just as they are now.


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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.