Azerbaijani traditional clothing

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Azerbaijani girl in national costume

Azerbaijani traditional clothing (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan milli geyimi) is the traditional attire of the Azerbaijani people. It is closely connected to its history, religious culture and national identity.[1] Costumes and dress are of great importance in Azerbaijani culture. Azerbaijani style is visible in ornaments of costume with artistic embroideries in weaving and knitting.

In the 17th century, the territory of modern Azerbaijan was of great importance to the silk industry. Silks were produced in the cities of Shamakhi, Basqal, Ganja, Shaki, Shusha, among others. These cities produced renowned silk and textile clothing.

The style of clothes reflected much about their wearers, such as marital status and wealth. Colours were often key indicators of these differences.

Since the 20th century, the style has been mostly kept alive in the countryside. National dances are typically performed in appropriate costume.

Men's wear[edit]

Azerbaijani noble man from Shusha

Male folkwear actually was very similar from region to region, but always reflected social class.


National outerwear for men consisted of a ust koyney (shirt) or Chepken, Arkhalig, Gaba, Chukha and Kurk

  • Arkhalig – a long tight-waist jacket made of various kinds of fabric, such as silk, satin, cloth, cashmere and velvet, depending on the social status of its owner.
  • Gaba – male humeral outerwear, which was sewed of tirma (expensive shawl fabric with a woven pattern of wool or silk).
  • Chukha – male humeral outerwear, which was detachable on the waist, with layers and gathers. It was sewed of cloth, tirma, and homespun textile.
  • Kurk – fur coat made of lamb fur, without fastener, with collar, decorated with embroidery.
Azerbaijani man in typical clothing. Photo by D.A.Nikitin. The second half of the 19th century.

A Russian ethnographer[who?] writes about Azerbaijani male costume:[2][further explanation needed]

Underwear consists of straight and short shirts of coarse calico, white and mostly dark blue colours with underpants of this very material, which are fastened with tapes on the waist; in winter they are worn over woolen large pants, which are also fastened with tapes. Over a shirt is worn arkhalig made of cotton. Arkhalig is such as a Russian man's long tight-fitting coat with a short waist and short skirt with gathers on the belt; it is always fastened tightly or in the midst or aside of the chest. Chukha is worn over arkhalig with a short waist and with a skirt with a length of below knees, but the head is covered with a small conic shaped hat made of lamb fur, throughout the year. Short woollen socks are worn to feet.


The Papaq was considered a symbol of fortitude, honour and dignity of Azerbaijani men and losing it was considered as a disgrace. To steal a Papaq was considered as a hostile action against its owner. Knocking down such headwear was considered a grave and serious insult. Social dignity of the Papaq's owner could be determined by its shape. Men never took their Papaqs off (even during dinner), except voodoo before salat. Appearing in public without a head dress was deemed inappropriate.[3]

  • Papaqs made of lamb fur or karakul was the main headwear for men. They had different forms and local names. According to E.Torchinskaya, there are 4 types of Azerbaijani papaqs in the State Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg:
  • Yappa papaq (or qara papaq – black papaq) – was widely spread in Karabakh and was covered with textile. They differed by color – gizil papaq (golden) and gumush papaq (silver).
  • Motal papaq (or choban papagi – shepherd's papaq) – was made of longhaired lamb fur and was in shape of a cone. Motal papaq was generally worn by the underclass.
Tatar (Azerbaijani) bey from Karabakh. Photographer G.Gagarin
  • Shish papaq (or bey papagi – bey's papaq) – was cone-shaped or sharp ended. According to the name of the material, which it was made of, they had a general name – Bukhara papaq, a fur that was brought from Bukhara. It was worn only by representatives of the beys' estate and the wealthy. Such papaqs were common for the elite.
  • Dagga (tagga) papaq – was spread in Nukhinsky Uyezd. Its top was made of velvet.
  • Bashlyk – consisted of a hood and long, round ends, wound around the neck. In winter men wore a bashlyk made of cloth and wool. Bashlyks made of camel wool were valuable in Shirvan. The lining of a Bashylk was made of colourful silk, because when bashlyks ears were thrown over shoulders the lining was visible. Generally, bashlyk was accompanied by yapinji.
  • Arakhchin – was worn under other headdresses (papaq, chalma for women). It was a typical traditional headwear of Azerbaijanis and was widely spread even in the Middle Ages.
  • Emmame – (type of chalma) existed among religious people (Mullahs, Sayyids, Sheikhs and others).


  • Jorabs - woollen socks were popular in Azerbaijan. City residents wore leather shoes with slip ons. Boots were widespread among aristocrats.
  • Charigs – everyday shoes made of leather or rawhide, worn by villagers.

Women's wear[edit]

Azerbaijani from Baku. Photographer F.Orden. 1897

The national female costume of Azerbaijanis consists of outwear and underwear. It includes a suck-formed shawl – chadra and a veil – rubend, which was worn by women when outdoors. Outwear was sewed of bright and colourful textiles, the quality of which depended on the wealth of the individual, or their family. The clothing also included many types of jewellery. Golden and silver beads, buttons, stylised as big seeds of Hordeum, coins, delicate pendants, and necklaces. Young women wore more bright clothes with bright flowers, unlike their elders.[4]

In the 19th century, Ivan Ivanovich Shopen described clothes of Azerbaijani women in Armenian Oblast (calling them Tatars):[5]

Dances of Tatar women are incomparably pleasant and their dresses promote originality of them: this clothing consists of a brocaded knitted jacket, which is fastened at the waist and a red silk chemise with a large slit at the front, which is fastened at the neck, and reveals bronze colours in every motion which are tattooed in different ornaments; wide trousers substitute for a skirt and their width can argue with the volume of a skirt which is the more stylish than the European purists. Tatar women wear decorated woollen socks with bright colours instead of stockings; thick black curly hair, thrown over the shoulders, completes the clothing and substitutes for any sort of more fanciful headdress.


Outwear consists of a shirt with wide sleeves and wide trousers to the ankle and bell-shaped shirts of the same length. Women also wore a knitted shirt with long sleeves (arkhalig, kulaja) tightly fitting across the back and chest, which had a wide slit at the front. A tight belt was worn at the waist. A quilted sleeveless jacket was worn in cold weather. Outerwear was often a cloak that was longer than the shirt. Women's shirts in Gazakh uyezd were long with slits on each side.[6]

Women of Karabakh wore chepken (chafken) that was tight-fitting to the waist and with long, hidden sleeves.

Women wore tight pants with wide skirts. Long shirts were worn in Nakhchivan, that reached down to the knee. In Shusha, Shamakhi and other districts, shirts were longer as well.

Long kulajs were worn only by rich women in Nakhchivan and Ganja.[citation needed]

Head dresses[edit]

Head dresses mostly consisted of leather in form of suck or caps of different forms. Over them several headscarves were worn. Women hid their hair into a special bag – chutga. Heads were covered with a cylindrical pillbox cap. It was mostly made of velvet. A chalma was tied over it, along with several headscarves, named kalaghai.


Jorabs were common among women.


In philately[edit]


  1. ^ "История азербайджанского национального костюма". 2010-02-19. Archived from the original on 2015-06-18.
  2. ^ "Азербайджанский национальный костюм".
  3. ^ "Азербайджанский национальный костюм". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26.
  4. ^ "AZERBAIJAN NATIONAL COSTUMES".[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Shopen, Ivan Ivanovich. Исторический памятник состояния Армянской области в эпоху его присоединения к Российской империи [Historical monument of the state of the Armenian region in the era of its accession to the Russian Empire] (in Russian).