Traditional costume of a Jewish woman in Algeria

Constantine, late 19th century – early 20th century

Silk, velvet, cotton, gold braid on card

Gift of Philippe Azoulay in memory of his mother, Edmée Azoulay, born Bensimon Marchina

Traditional costume of a Jewish woman in Algeria, Constantine, late 19th century – early 20th century

Silk, velvet, cotton, gold braid on card. Gift of Philippe Azoulay in memory of his mother, Edmée Azoulay, born Bensimon Marchina

Traditional costume of a Jewish woman in Algeria, Constantine, late 19th century – early 20th century

Silk, velvet, cotton, gold braid on card. Gift of Philippe Azoulay in memory of his mother, Edmée Azoulay, born Bensimon Marchina

In Algeria, Jewish women’s attire comprised a headdress (chéchiya), a jacket (ghlila djabadouli) and a dress (djubba). The women of Constantine wore a long-sleeved, open-fronted jacket in violet, blue or black velvet, satin or silk brocade. The bust was adorned with braid and embroideries, usually ovoid in form, to protect the wearer against evil eyes. The pinafore-type dress was often in the same material and decorated on the front with a plastron embroidered directly on the fabric or composed of plaques embroidered with gold thread.

This costume varied depending on the season. In summer, the jacket was replaced by a thin white cotton blouse and a sleeveless waistcoat (ghlila) exposing the blouse’s embroidered tulle sleeves. The farmla, another type of waistcoat, was also worn in summer. The costume could be complemented by a fouta, a rectangle of often striped fabric knotted around the pelvis and concealing the blouse’s transparency. This enabled adjustment of its length, to decrease the nudity of the legs in summer and warm the lower body in winter. This garment was symbolically linked to fertility and the protection of the woman’s body against evil eyes.

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