Cloaks Worn by Men in the Levant

Written by jessica conner
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Cloaks Worn by Men in the Levant
Modern-day Arabic men are often seen wearing cloaks that originated from the Levant. (arab cycle image by Jose from Fotolia.com)

The Levant refers to the geographical region that encompasses the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea on the east. These countries include what are now Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. This region once existed under Turkish Ottoman rule and was referred to as the Levant. The clothing styles that existed during Ottoman reign have drastically impacted Middle Eastern male fashion trends. Cloaks donned by Middle Eastern men in the Levant are being sported to this day.

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The Kaftan

The kaftan, or kaftan, is the traditional long-sleeved, full-skirted robe worn by Ottoman and Persian men. The cloak is ankle length, loosely flowing, and usually accompanied by a sash around the waist. The kaftan was dyed with various inks, and ranged in colour. Some popular colours of the time period were saffron yellow, Turkish red, and violet. Embroidery could often be found on the fronts and sleeves of the cloak. Not every man was fit to adorn himself with such festive colours and patterns, however. Colours and patterns were assigned to each man selectively, according to his specific rank within the empire.

The Burnoose

Also spelt burnous or burnouse, the burnous is another traditional Arabic cloak that originated from the Levant. Popular amongst Berbers in the Levant, the burnous is a long woollen cloak similar to the kaftan that includes a hood and was traditionally cream in colour. The garment makes frequent appearances in the modern-day Middle Eastern man's wardrobe, especially in Algeria. The traditional white or cream cloak is still a local favourite, but black burnouses are now popular as well. Hooded, camel hair burnouses were a customer favourite at a burnous fair in Bou-Saada, Algeria in 2010, according to "Algeria Today."

The Djellaba

The djellaba, or djellaba, is a floor length, long-sleeved cloak made of wool. It has a characteristic "wizard's" hood, which points straight up due to the use of course fabric. The djellaba was traditionally worn in the Levant by Moroccan and Arabic men in order to shield their faces from the harsh desert sands that constantly blew during windstorms. Although the cloaks served as practical garments for protection from the climate of the region, they were also worn in order to signify marital status amongst the Berbers. In addition, djellabas meet the dress standards of Islam, a prominent Arabic religion in which women are required to remain fully cloaked in public. Due in part to these religious standards, the wearing of the djellaba has transcended gender. Today, variants on traditional materials have produced lighter, more breathable djellabas that are a trend amongst Middle Eastern men and women.

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