Azerbaijani traditional clothing

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Tatar (Azerbaijani) bey from Karabakh. Photographer G.Gagarin

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 dresses are of great importance in Azerbaijani culture. Azerbaijani style is visible in ornaments of costumes 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 Shamakhi, Basqal, Ganja, Shaki, Shusha, and others.

The style of clothes and their colours reflected their wearers' marital status, wealth, and other information. Since the 20th century, traditional Azerbaijani clothing 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 was very similar from region to region but always reflected social class.[citation needed]


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 fabrics including silk, satin, cloth, cashmere and velvet, depending on the social status of its owner.
  • Gaba – male humeral outerwear, which was made from tirma, an expensive shawl fabric with a woven pattern of wool or silk.
  • Chukha – male humeral outerwear with layers and gathers that was detachable at the waist. It was made of cloth, tirma, and homespun textiles.
  • Kurk – a collared lamb-fur coat without fastener and 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]

{{blockquote|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 and knocking down a papaq was considered a grave insult. The social dignity of the Papaq's owner could be determined by its shape. Men never took off their papaqs, even during dinner) except before salat. Appearing in public without a headdress was deemed inappropriate.[3]

  • Papaqs made of lamb-fur or karakul, this was the main headwear for men. They had different forms and local names. According to E.Torchinskaya, there are four types of Azerbaijani papaqs in the State Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg:
  • Yappa papaq (or qara papaq – black papaq) was widespread in Karabakh and was covered with textile. They differed by colour; gizil papaq (golden) and gumush papaq (silver).
  • Motal papaq (or choban papagi – shepherd's papaq), which was made of long-haired lamb-fur and was conical, was generally worn by the underclass.
  • Shish papaq (or bey papagi – bey's papaq) was conical or sharp-ended. According to the name of the material from which it was made, 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 commonly worn in Nukhinsky Uyezd. Its top was made of velvet.
  • Bashlyk, which was worn around the neck, consisted of a hood and long, round ends. 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 the lining was visible when the head was turned. Generally, the bashlyk was accompanied by a yapinji.
  • Arakhchin was worn under other headdresses (papaq; chalma for women). It was traditional headwear in Azerbaijan and was widespread even in the Middle Ages.
  • Emmame, a type of chalma, was worn by religious leaders such as mullahs, sayyids, sheikhs and others.


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

Women's wear[edit]

Azerbaijani woman in national costume

The national female costume of Azerbaijan consists of outerwear and underwear. It includes chadra – a suck-formed swawl – and rubend, a veil that was worn by women when outdoors. Women's outerwear was made of bright and colourful textiles, the quality of which depended on the wealth of the individual or her family. The clothing also included jewellery such as golden and silver beads, buttons stylised as hordeum seeds, coins, delicate pendants and necklaces. Young women wore 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.[citation needed]


Women's outerwear consists of a shirt with wide sleeves, wide trousers to the ankle and bell-shaped shirts of the same length. Women also wore a knitted shirt with long sleeves (arkhalig, kulaja) that fitted tightly across the back and chest, and had a wide slit at the front. A tight belt was worn around 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 and had slits on each side.[6]

Women of Karabakh wore a tight-fitting chepken (chafken) to the waist and with long, hidden sleeves.[citation needed] Women wore tight pants with wide skirts. Long shirts that reached to the knees were worn in Nakhchivan,. Long shirts were also worn in Shusha, Shamakhi and other districts.[citation needed] Long kulajs were worn only by rich women in Nakhchivan and Ganja.[citation needed]


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


Jorabs were common among women.[citation needed]


In philately[edit]

Azerbaijan stamps from 2004 depicting 19th century attire. Regional clothes from left to right: Baku, Shusha, Nakhchivan, Shamakhi


  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).