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Islam / Popular religion / Muslim dress codes /
Persian: chādor

Female Muslim clothing
Muslim dress codes

Traditional chador

Conservative dress worn by many Shi'i Muslim women, when active in the public.
The chador is a one-piece black cloth with the shape of a semi-circle. There are no dedicated openings for hands, still the hands hold it together when the women walks.
There are no final evidence of the origins of the chador, its history goes at least a few hundred years back in time. Although in use through the 20th century, the modern history of the chador must be said to be the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The revolution promoted largely the chador, but more rigid and less varied in styles than the traditional chador. While traditional chadors had come in several colours, and were often used in combination with other garments, like a blouse and a skirt, the chador of the revolution became invariably black, covering the whole body, making it appear shapeless
With the traditional chador, black was the colour of widows and used with death and in funerals. When the modern chadors has abandoned all but black colour, this expresses symbolically that the woman wearing the chador is dead to the world; i.e. that as a sexual being she is only available to her husband.
In private, among close friends or family, women generally take off the chador, wearing clothes that can both be light, traditional, or even sensuous and Western in style.
Chadors are, contrary to Western conceptions, is not obligatory in Iran. What is obligatory is dressing conservatively, hiding most of the hair. Wearing the chador is considered an ideal way of expressing one's respectability and piety.

1936: The chador is banned by Reza Shah Pahlavi, ordering the police to arrest women wearing it and forcebliy remove it.
1941: Abdication of Reza, many of the harshest regulations against wearing the chador is removed, but in effect chadors were discriminated in many circumstances, in the workplace, at schools, in hotels and at restaurants.
1980: New Islamic government makes wearing conservative dress, to which the chador was a perfect fit, a duty upon all females.

By Tore Kjeilen