The national dress of Azerbaijan is the result of long and complicated historical processes in the development of the country’s material and intellectual culture. Azerbaijan’s history, geography and culture determined the form and color of its clothes.
Twelve stages can be identified in the formation of Azerbaijani national costume. Each stage saw further development and improvement, corresponding to changing tastes and living conditions. At the same time each new stage stayed faithful to the roots of national dress. Clothing became a local form of expression, and local styles became firmly established with no-one introducing alien elements. Simple forms of clothing were gradually replaced with more complex cuts.
National craftsmen had a refined sense of color, and the ability to choose shades of color was passed down the generations. Tailors used expressions such as “loud red” (alışdım-yandım), “scarlet and green are on friendly terms” (al ilə yaşıl xoş yaraşır), “red and yellow, on the lookout” (qırmızı-sarı, çığırma barı), which show their careful combination of color and rejection of clashing tones. This can be clearly seen in the color palette of Azerbaijan´s national dress. The details and colors in all outfits, whether for the rich and aristocratic or for simple country people, were chosen after careful consideration.
The traditional garb of the Azerbaijani people consists of under and outer garments and clothes for the upper and lower body. The underclothes include dizlik (trousers or an underskirt) and köynək (a shirt), while the outer garments are şalvar (two tapered trouser legs with a triangular gore inserted into the groin seam) and tuman (several skirts worn on top of one another), qofta (a tunic-like blouse) and arxalıq (a tunic or shirt). In cold weather baharı or güləcə were worn over the arxalıq with an eşmək (woman´s sleeveless jacket, usually padded or fur-lined), or kürk (sheepskin coat) on top. The outfit was finished off with a headdress and footwear. When women went outside the home, they wore çaxçur (a garment made of two trouser legs, each gathered at the ankle into a frilled cuff to which socks of the same fabric were sewn) and fastened a yaşmaq over their mouth. The cut of outer garments, especially the cut of the arxalıq, and the color combinations of clothes differed from region to region.
Women’s garments in those days differed significantly depending upon social status. Poorer women wore short, waist-length tunics of cotton or satin while the more affluent wore tunics of silk. Women wore jewelry on their heads, hands and chests. They also wore leather belts with coin silver buckles and sewn on coins. Children’s clothing was similar to that of the adults.