Abstract: The daily life of women in Turkestan during the Colonial Era, when under Russian rule, as observed in their ethnic dress and the dynamics of the fashion represented in the photographic archives of the Turkestan Album. This paper presents the cultural role of dressing and the position of a woman in Turkestani culture. The suggestion is made that the concept of fashion is closely related to the cultural and religious meaning of traditional clothes and rituals in what is now known as Uzbekistan. Tsarist-era Turkestan serves as the historical context in which to introduce and address an underrepresented study topic: ethnic dress and fashion.
Keywords: Ethnic dress, Parandja, Fashion, Rituals.
In the nineteenth century, Russian colonial orientalists highlighted the most vivid cultural and religious differences to portray the region as the ‘other’, different from the Russian ‘us’. The most potent and easily reproducible examples were the seclusion and veiling of Turkestani women. Together with the observations made by Western and Russian travellers regarding women’s subjugation by both men and religion, this paper explores the unheard voice of Turkestani women expressed through the aesthetics of the parandja, a type of female veiling used in Tsarist-era Turkestan. The aim of this paper is to reconsider the role of parandja in the light of it being decorative attire: a stylish garment used with the purpose of religious, ethnic and cultural self-presentation. This discussion focuses on the examination of the cultural significance of clothing and fashion in the context of orientalist views of Turkestani women.