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The difference between many Pashtun mothers and their daughters today - 'blue versus black'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/25/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Blue, or 'shuttlecock' burqa is one-piece outfit with openings for eyes

In a highly conservative, restricted community, little things mean a lot. Pashtun women are given two choices of wear when they venture from their homes - a black burqa that consists of three pieces and reveals the e yes, of the blue, "shuttlecock" burqa, which is one piece with eyeholes. Why one Pashtun woman would choose one over the other is complex.

The blue, 'shuttlecock' burqa, is one piece of cloth with eyeholes.

The blue, "shuttlecock" burqa, is one piece of cloth with eyeholes.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/25/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: BUrqas, blue, black, Pashtun, fashion


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - What exactly does this change from the blue to black burqa signify?

The blue-colored burqa is ostensibly to increase the level of purdah for girls and women.

"When females wear the blue burqa, you can't distinguish if she is a 12-year-old child or a 60-year-old grandmother," researcher Ali Arqam says.

The blue burqa completely covers the body as a single piece of cloth. In contrast, the black burqa is usually in three pieces: the coat, the head covering and the niqab.

Covered from head to toe in a single piece of cloth leaves a lot to be desired. When women step out in public need to use their hands. Women need to lift their burqa and hold the items under it, which can be highly inconvenient.

The blue-colored light weight cloth flutters, especially during strong winds, and has to be held in place with both hands. With restricted vision and both hands used to hold the burqa in place it leaves women with little, if any, options to be able to do anything else.

The three-piece coat-styled black burqa has long sleeves and a separate piece to cover the face revealing only the eyes, making it easier for the wearer to walk in public without impeding vision. The black burqa is also usually made of heavy fabric, which does not allow it to flutter in the wind easily. This makes the garment much warmer to wear, especially in high climate conditions. The advantages to the black burqa are many.

Respect for one's culture doesn't necessarily mean giving up on practicality and fashion.

"Women are treated as the honor of the family in Pashtun community, but as they (women) become more educated, empowered and modernized they continue to cover themselves but in a manner which is more current with the times and yes more fashionable," Samar Esapzai says.

In urban centers, such as Peshawar the black abaya-style burqa is seen very prominently today. "The black burqa made its way into Pakistan with the influx of Middle Eastern women enrolled in Peshawar University in the mid-80s," analyst Khadim Hussain explains.

Slowly, but definitively the blue burqa has become associated with "older women" in Pashtun community and even women belonging to the lower socio-economic strata.

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