Fabrics, their colours, patterns and threads, and jewellery, they all bring facets of different cultures to life and help us to understand the complex meanings of them.
In the past, clothes and jewellery were signs of identity, and they remain so, by helping to identify members of one tribe or region from others. Although globalisation is quickly eliminating these identifying signs, in the 19th century in Europe and in the Arab‒Ottoman world they were still clearly defined. The costumes that once identified each region are now seen as typical or traditional dress. These tend to be elaborate costumes decorated, in the case of women’s garments, with jewellery, sometimes in great quantities. The jewellery further indicates the specific ethnic group or region it comes from, since the most characteristic jewellery-type was produced. In the Middle East and North Africa, where there is great ethnic diversity, traditional or typical dress was worn on a daily basis in the 19th century, but European influences meant that this clothing was reserved for celebrations and ceremonies. The same process occurred in Europe between the countryside and the city.