Dressing is integral to any culture and helps the world recognize a nation’s identity. So is the case with the Balochi traditional dress, but before we talk about the Balochi attire, let’s look at the current trends.
The current era is all about fashion, colors, and comfort; every culture is transforming its traditional dresses into versatile ones that they can wear confidently. The dressing sense has become a tell-tale for people living all around the world. The attire we adopt tells about who we are as a person!
Balochi culture is no exception and has adapted to the changing times by blending traditional clothing with modern designs. Balochi traditional dress, with its vibrant colors, is gaining more attention from fashion-conscious circles due to its distinctive style and comfort.
The rich culture and heritage of Balochis say all about their dressing preferences. Balochi dresses traditionally consist of loose-flowing garments which are pretty eye-catching.
The intricate embroidery, the beautiful colors, and the versatility of the Balochi dress make it quite eminent worldwide. Even if you see a Balochi wearing their traditional dress in a foreign country, you can recognize them at once. That’s because the Balochi dress is unique and very different from the usual fashion trends.
But now, it has adapted to the preferences and conditions of modern lifestyles. Balochi cloth and style are evolving with the changing times, yet they still retain their distinctiveness from other cultures.
Balochi dress is similar for all the Balochis living in any part of the world, be it Pakistani Balochis or Iranian Balochis, but their way of styling the look can be a bit different.
Let’s begin with this article to see what Balochi attire consists of and what Balochis wear on their cultural day.
Representation of Baloch Culture
The Balochi dress represents their culture and what they believe in. It is an integral part of the Balochi identity passed down through generations. The attire carries with it a sense of pride, style, elegance, and modesty.
Balochis have a rich culture, and their clothing reflects that as well. The dress is usually loose-fitting and comfortable, so one can move freely without restrictions.
The traditional Balochi dress accurately depicts the Baloch culture; talking about Balochi attire, we can’t forget Balochi embroidery. Balochi embroidery is one of the ancient handicrafts in the world and has been passed down from one generation to another. The embroidery, colors, and threadwork can be recognized quickly as the Balochi masterpiece, even from a distance.
The Balochi dresses have a specific type of embroidery, which contains unfaded colors, small mirrors, and intricate patterns of threadwork. The origin of this embroidery dates back to a civilization named Mehrgarh in 700 BC.
Mehrgarh was a Neolithic site on the Bolan Pass on the Kacchi plain in Balochistan and was the earliest Neolithic site in the Indian Subcontinent. When the site got discovered through excavation, the Balochi motifs were also seen on the pottery and the pots.
Balochi embroidery is quite different in designs and varieties, and that’s how a particular type of embroidery refers to a specific tribe. Also, the fabric used for additional Balochi embroidery varies from place to place.
The Balochi dress has beautiful embroidery with different colors, referring to the peace, love, and harmony of Balochi culture. The dress is also designed according to the climate.
Men’s Balochi Dress
Balochs differ from their neighbors in their dressing sense and choices. Balochistan is a scorching region, so their clothing is a mostly loose fit to protect themselves from the heat. The Balochi dress is elegant but also reflects Baloch’s pride in their culture.
Let’s explore what a Baloch men’s dress consists of:
1. Long Jama (Robe)
Although Baloch men wear Shalwar Kameez, just like any other province’s men’s dress, it’s slightly different from what others wear. In the 19th century, the earlier version of the Balochi dress for males consisted of a long shirt close to the ankles, called Jama (Robe). Usually, it’s white and was paired up with Shalwar.
The modern version of the traditional Balochi dress doesn’t include Jama, and a knee-lengthed kameez is worn instead of Jama.
2. Loose Shalwar
The Balochi shalwar is usually loose and comfortable. It’s traditionally made of cotton, jacquard, and some other fabrics and is stitched using a cloth of up to 40 yards.
The most popular color for Balochi shalwar is White, considered a symbol of pride in the Baloch culture. The style of Shalwar, however, remained the same throughout all these years.
3. Chadar (Shawl)
The Chadar or chaddar is a piece of cloth draped on the shoulders and worn by men as a sign of honor and respect. It’s also used to keep warm in cold weather.
Chadar used to be an essential part of Balochi men’s dresses and was dropped over one shoulder to the downside of the other shoulder. The most popular colors for Chadar are White, Cream, and Beige, while some prefer bright colors like Red, Blue, and Green.
The current Balochi men’s attire has a different Chadar, or most prefer to wear the Turban only. The modern Balochi Chadar has beautiful colored embroidery, mostly skin or white. However, the elders or the people in the rural areas prefer to drape a white chadar.
4. Turban (Pagri)
Turban or Pagri, also called Dastar in the Baloch region, is a traditional headdress for Balochi men. It is primarily white and decorated with bright colors like Red, Orange, Blue, and green to enhance its beauty. The Pagri usually circles the head multiple times and is held together by a black string or metal accessory, which keeps the Turban in place.
One end of the Turban hangs loose and is draped over the other shoulder, making a U-shape on the chest. The Turban is an integral part of Balochi dress and is used by men to signify a symbol of honor and respect.
The only colored item in the traditional Balochi men’s dress is waistcoats, called Chogha, and usually made from cotton fabric, wool, or sometimes even silk. Mostly it’s black, but sometimes, it has colored embroidery.
The waistcoat is usually worn over the Jama or Kameez. They are heavily ornamented with buttons, tassels, ribbons, and embroidery, making them an accessory that adds a touch of extravagance to the Balochi suit.
6. Balochi Chappal
The traditional type of Balochi footwear is the Balochi Chappal, also known as Chawats. It is usually made of leather and can either be plain or decorated with embroidery and tassels. This sandal provides an air of comfort to the traditional Balochi dress.
Balochi Chapal is similar to Kheri chappal, worn in other provinces of Pakistan but has different colors and intricate embroidery, which differs from the rest.
Women’s Balochi Dress
Balochi women have colorful taste in dressing and love to wear bright-colored clothes with intricate patterns or embroidery. As a result, Balochi women’s dress is far different from other regional dresses; the colors and the embroidery makes it unique.
Here’s an overview of the traditional women’s Balochi suit:
The traditional Balochi dress for women includes Phashik, a long gown-like dress worn in different colors and designs by women. The dress has intricate designs stitched with bright-colored threads to give it an attractive look. The dress’s sleeves can be broad or narrow, depending on the design. It looks flowy and elegant on women and is usually paired with a stole or shawl.
Phashik is usually light fabric and comes in different colors and embroidery patterns. The Phashik is also paired with a chadar (shawl), enhancing its look even more.
The length of this dress can vary depending on the wearer’s preference; it can be knee-length or ankle-length, depending on the region and tradition.
2. Balochi Doch
Balochi Doch is a traditional dress mostly worn during special occasions and festivals. It is considered an essential part of Balochi culture dress for females. The Doch is heavily embroidered with intricate patterns and is usually made of a thick fabric such as Wool or Cotton.
It is available in various colors, such as bright reds and blues; however, the most popular color is deep red. Moreover, the Doch can be paired with many accessories which add to its beauty, such as jewelry and traditional shoes (Sawas chappal).
This dress contains lots of needlework and mirror work, and it takes months to put together the final shape. It’s unique because it needs loads of hard work, and the intricate patterns and designs tell how hard it takes to put the dress together.
Jewelry is a must-have for every Balochi woman; without Balochi jewelry, no Balochi attire can be said to be complete. Whether a wedding or the day-to-day dress, jewelry plays an important role. It adds grace and elegance to a Baloch woman’s attire. Everyday jewelry items include earrings, necklaces, bangles, and armlets. These are usually made of gold, silver, or brass and adorned with beautiful stones.
The Balochi jewelry depicts the liveliness and taste of the Baloch nation and is a symbol of their culture.
4. Sawas Chappal
Balochi ladies’ chappal is an essential item to complete the dress. It’s made of leather, has a unique design, and is decorated with exquisite embroidery. The upper part of the chappal is usually adorned with colorful pieces of cloth and stones. Sometimes, on special occasions, ladies’ Sawas Chappals are also made of pure silver for a more glamorous look.
Mostly, the Sawas chappal is handmade, and lots of hard work is behind its creation; the final look is always beautiful.
5. Ladies’ Bag
A critical thing in Balochi attire is the lady’s bag. They are usually made of corduroy or other fabric types and decorated with intricate threadwork and stones. These fabric bags have different kinds of designs and motifs, which are another thing representing the Balochi culture.
Balochi lady’s bags are also very famous in other provinces of Pakistan. People use them as a souvenir of Balochistan or in an event to show harmony and brotherhood with Balochs.
Balochi Dress Handmade Embroidery
The Baloch people are renowned for their skill in handmade embroidery. That is a unique art form that takes hours of hard work to complete and can be seen on the garments they wear, such as Jama, Chadar (shawl), bags, Phashik, and turbans.
Handmade embroidery is intricate and usually made with delicate threads of different colors. It includes various designs representing the Baloch culture, such as floral patterns, geometric shapes, figures, and animals. These are combined in unique ways to create an excellent piece. In addition, the embroidery is often decorated with mirrors and stones, which gives it an extra touch of elegance.
Balochi handmade embroidery is amazingly exclusive and often made in geometric patterns, giving these designs a vibrant and unique charm. Balochi embroidery has two main concepts, i.e., Dodh and Bedhodh; the patterns, the needlework, and everything are a bit different in these concepts compared to each other.
Balochi women learn this embroidery as a life skill and practice it daily to perfect their craft. The majority of Balochs know the skill of embroidery and use it as a way to earn their livelihood.
Balochi Dress Culture Day
Like all the other provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan has its culture day, which is celebrated on March 2 every year. The day is celebrated to pay homage to the beautiful Balochi culture and rich heritage. On this day, Balochi people dress up in their traditional attire to represent their culture.
Although there’s not much difference in their traditional attire and the dress they wear on the culture day, Balochs leave no stone unturned when dressing up for the culture day.
That means they dress in their best clothes and represent their culture beautifully.
Men wear Shalwar Kameez with their traditional turbans and waistcoat. At the same time, women wear Phashik and Balochi Doch along with their traditional jewelry. They also wear Sawas chappal for their feet to complete the look.
On culture day, you will find many women getting intricate handmade embroidery on their dresses to make them more beautiful. This embroidery comprises the most colorful threads and striking patterns, making the dress look more vibrant.
A Baloch culture day can’t be complete without Balochis wearing their traditional dresses, eating their traditional foods, and enjoying their cultural plays. So if you ever get the chance to participate in a Baloch culture day, make sure to have a Balochi traditional dress!
Balochi Wedding Dress
When it comes to weddings, the Balochi dress is at its best! Although Baloch weddings are not extravagant affairs, Baloch culture promotes simplicity and elegance, but their wedding attires are worth watching!
At any wedding, women wear bright colors with intricate handmade embroidery. The bride dresses in traditional attire, but the dress is bright red with beautiful Balochi embroidery. But, of course, the bridal look isn’t complete without Balochi jewelry and heavy makeup for the day!
While men are seen wearing traditional Balochi Shalwar Kameez in either white or black colors and a contrasting waistcoat, the look is completed with a colorful pagri (Turban) and chappals.
The groom wears a white Shalwar Kameez with a black waistcoat; some prefer an embroidered waistcoat but mostly wear the black one. In addition, they have a special Turban (Pagri) that a groom wears on his wedding day. The look is completed with an embroidered shawl trapped over one shoulder. The embroidery on this shawl is mainly done in fine threadwork.
Global Popularity of Balochi Dress
Over the years, Baloch clothing has become popular around the globe! That can be attributed to its intricate designs, patterns, vibrant colors, and interesting silhouettes. In addition, the detailed embroidery work done on the dress and its unique color combinations have made it popular among fashion designers, who have incorporated elements of the Balochi dress into their collections.
The traditional Balochi dress is becoming increasingly popular in many countries, including India, Pakistan, Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and more. Some of these countries even have fashion shows dedicated to showcasing Balochi dresses. In addition, many celebrities have also been seen wearing various elements of the Balochi dress, further increasing its popularity on the world stage.
In addition, many online stores have started selling ready-made Balochi garments, making them easier to access. That has further popularized Balochi dress in countries where the people may not be familiar with its origins or history. Furthermore, handmade embroidery and other traditional designs are still being done by artisans across the country, another major factor contributing to its popularity.
Balochi dress is popular on occasions such as Baloch Culture Day when people from all over the country come together to celebrate their culture. Additionally, elements of traditional Balochi dress are often worn during weddings and other formal events.
The unique design and intricate details of the Balochi dress have made it a favorite among fashion lovers around the globe. As a result, designers worldwide have incorporated Balochi dresses into their collections, making them one of the most sought-after fashion trends in recent years.
Economic Importance of Balochi Dress
Balochi dresses and embroidery play an integral role in the country’s economy since it’s popular worldwide. The demand for Balochi dresses is rising, leading to the growth of small-scale businesses and cottage industries. As a result, people can make a living producing traditional Balochi clothing or selling it in markets and online.
Most Baloch females depend on Balochi embroidery and handicrafts for livelihood and economic support. Baloch females start learning this skill at a young age and practice it daily to polish the embroidery skill at its best. Preparing a dress through such embroidery is quite time-consuming, and these women work 3-9 months on one dress, which makes it expensive.
The hub of Balochi embroidery is local towns, including Jhal Magsi, Chaghai, Dera Bugti, Sibi, Mastung, and Kalat. The artistic designs of these dresses make them famous and even increase their demand in Gulf countries.
Furthermore, by promoting the traditional Balochi dress worldwide, more and more tourists are attracted to Pakistan, thus helping boost the country’s economy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Balochi dresses expensive?
Yes, the traditional Balochi dresses are expensive compared to the formal attire of other provinces. But the hard work it takes in embroidering and preparing a Balochi dress justifies the price.
The price range of a casual dress is between 5 to 10 thousand rupees. The most expensive Balochi dresses are in the range of over 1 lac PKR. Balochi embroidery is quite costly and isn’t affordable for many people.
What is the famous dress of Balochistan?
The famous dress of Balochistan includes Shalwar Kameez, head turban, waistcoat, and headscarf. The clothing often features intricate embroidery work, which makes it distinctively Balochi. The traditional Balochi dress for men is simple but looks elegant with the right pieces. It consists of a long shirt, loose trousers, a head turban, and a waistcoat. On the other hand, women usually wear Shalwar Kameez with intricate handmade embroidery work on it, along with head scarfs.
What is the provincial dress of Balochistan?
The provincial dress of Balochistan is quite similar to that of the Pashtoon and Brahvi tribes; still, there are some minor differences.
Turban is the typical headwear of men; shalwar Kameez with a loose-fitting Shalwar and a knee-length shirt is worn by men of all these tribes.
As a representation of Balochi culture, the dress of Balochistan is unique and has gained global popularity. It is also economically important for locals who create it through handmade embroidery, whether men’s or women’s, the Provincial Dress of Balochistan offers a simple but exquisite style with intricate detail.
Balochi culture day dresses and wedding attire are especially remarkable pieces of work that combine a traditional look with modern trends. Yet, despite the expense, these beautiful garments remain an essential part of the cultural identity of the Balochi people.
So if you ever visit Pakistan’s southwestern region, remember to pick up some beautiful Balochi dresses.