by Sarah Corbett
The ‘deel’ is an item of Mongolian traditional clothing. A unisex item, which is still worn outside the major towns and cities.
The ‘deel’ is not unique to Mongolia, and may also be seen worn by nomadic tribes of Central Asia.
The garment is generally calf length and is fastened by clasps at the shoulder and along the opposing seam from armpit to hemline. A ‘deel’ can be made from cotton, wool, silk or brocade. Designs may vary among ethnic groups , cultures and Eras to some degree, especially the designs of the trimmings of the upper opening edges.
The ‘deel’ made for daily wear are constructed from wool or cotton, whereas ‘deel’ made for weddings and celebrations will be of sumptuous silks.
The ‘deel’ is generally worn with a tightly bound sash, although sometimes a leather belt could be substituted.
In addition to the ‘deel’ men and women wear loose fitting trousers, and the women often also choose to wear underskirts. The skirts are plain at the front and back, with pleated panels at the sides.
Mongolian boots are called ‘Gutul’ and are the ideal footwear for the environment and also for horse riding. Made from leather usually cowhide, and occasionally goat or deerskin.
The spacious outer boots are lined with a thick felt inner sock, the upper part of which is richly adorned with fine embroidery. In the winter a third outer layer of fur called ‘degeti’ may be added for warmth.
In addition to these garments an important aspect of Mongolian adornment is the hat, of which there are over 400 recorded styles. Perhaps the most impressive arrangement of headgear is that of the married Khulkha women. The style is reminiscent of a cows horns ( For Mongolians the cow represents Nomadic freedom)
The basis of this magnificent ensemble is a filigree silver cap, which is adorned with coral and turquoise gems and pins. From this cap emerge two plaits which are teased and back combed into glorious forms, which are often protected within embroidered covers, with ornate silver jewelled bands. These amazing forms are supported with Bamboo and silver sticks.. For special events and when travelling a small conical velvet hat topped with a large piece of coral is added to the ensemble.
Mongolian opulence is certainly a thing to behold and the joy derived from the act of adornment is clearly apparent within this largely nomadic culture.