Passers-by between the narrow roads of Constantine, Algeria, may be surprised by the stacking of tailors ’shops, who still show their passion despite the grayness that bore their heads, hiding behind that simplicity a” treasure “woven with gold thread and silk velvet.
The gandura of velor, as residents of Constantine, 380 km east of the capital Algiers, is one of the precious items that women possess and hide with their jewelry, and it is a traditional costume that developed like a snowball, from one civilization to another.
The novels tell about her distinctive embroideries, which she shares with a number of traditional Algerian costumes in the technique, between “the brazier, the hair and the twist”, which are special methods through which strings of gold and silver are formed on the drawings placed on the finest types of cloth.
From the ring to the aristocrats
History books say that Ziryab’s influence on the Andalusian civilization, during the era of Abd al-Rahman al-Awsat, was not limited to music, but also to fashion, as the fashion house was opened, teaching people how to comb their hair, classifying clothes between summer and winter, and their knowledge of embroidery.
People who were astonished by Ziryab at that time began to pay attention to the form, after which the embroideries appeared on the clothes of the matador, i.e. the bullfighters, who used to show off their fights on the ring every time in clothes embroidered with gold thread on silk cloth and velvet.
Rasim Bey, who is interested in heritage – to Al-Jazeera Net – says that the embroidery craft moved to Algeria after the Almohad era, and “the elegance of the dress of the aristocratic families in the city of Constantine became more feminine, especially for the wives of princes, sultans and the high class.”
Velvet was used in the gandora uniform called “Genoa velvet”, which is the finest type of velvet fabric that was brought by merchants from the Italian city of Genoa, which was the first destination for those looking for high-quality raw materials.
For all women
With the inheritance of the craft and the passage of time, the velvet kandora became the main piece that the bride wears and one of the pieces that women are proud of in Algeria, and the quality of the piece varies according to the quality of the fabric, the quality of the embroidery thread and even the stones used.
The velvet kandora is decorated with precious stones, and it is embroidered with pure gold or silver thread. This outfit has charmed a number of chief women, like the wife of Shazly bin Jadid and also the wife of Muammar Gaddafi, and others.
Today in the Constantinian families the gandora is considered a measure of the woman’s family’s taste and the extent of their luxury. Women await the day of “Henna of the Bride” on a Friday in which the relatives of the groom and their acquaintances will attend the “gandora” that will be worn, to become their theme in that evening.
It may take 6 months to prepare the plush box for the many details it carries and the accuracy that it must be, and its price may reach fancy sums, especially if it is embroidered with gold and decorated with original precious stones, which is what women compete in in the city.
Women keep the velvet grove and pass it on from generation to generation. A girl can even wear her mother’s dress on her wedding day or her tenderness, especially if it is made of Genoa velvet, which has become unpopular during this period and is embroidered with pure gold and encrusted with precious stones.
Women believe that this costume increases its value as time passes, unlike daily fashion, so women attend special sessions to preserve the bride’s costume that she intends to pass on to her daughter. It is wrapped in special papers and preserved in places that make it last longer, to preserve its position among the generations.