Jordanian traditional dresses are characterized by their authenticity and great diversity, especially in terms of women’s clothing. This is due to the geographical diversity of Jordan and its skilled handmade craftsmanship. The dresses are adorned with decorations that are based on Jordanian history. Each region has its own unique designs with local variations.
Traditional dresses represent a prominent symbol for every nation and serve as a clear indication of its dresses, civilization, and culture. Folk dresses are considered a part of the heritage because of their close association with traditions, customs, and the social and economic influences throughout history. Therefore, they reflect an image of society and life in a particular country, serving as a national reference for its people.
Jordanian traditional dresses vary depending on the region or the city. They differ in terms of the style, the length, design, embroidery, and color of garments and head coverings, such as the headscarf, the headband, and the keffiyeh. Each dress is beautiful and carries its own symbolism and story, adding an authentic Arab beauty to the bearer.
In general, Jordanian women’s traditional dresses are characterized by a long, loose-fitting dress with long sleeves called “Ardan’, usually made in black or dark colors. Most of the time, a head covering is worn, which covers most of the hair and the head.
The Jordanian dress known as “Madraga” and its ornate embroidery, reflect the Jordanian identity and deep connection to the land, heritage and history. Jordanian designs are inspired by the beliefs, history, and surrounding environment, including its flowers, tree leaves, wheat stalks, bird shapes, winding mountains, valleys and deserts.
Jordanian traditional dresses have social, religious, economic and geographical connotations and meanings. Each region has its own unique decorations. Wealthy families used gold and silver threads, as well as other expensive materials, for embroidery. On the other hand, poorer families used cotton and wool threads to adorn and embroider their dresses.
The colors of the traditional Jordanian dress symbolize the age of the woman. Young women wear a red headband, while older women wear a black headband. Married young women wear elaborately decorated dresses in different colors more than unmarried women, according to their region. Each occasion has its own specific dress and decorations, such as work attire, festive attire, and mourning attire. Wedding dresses hold a special status and have specific characteristics. You can find colorful dresses adorned with golden threads, as well as white dresses with vibrant embroidered decorations as symbols of love and loyalty.
The women’s attire consists of a head covering, which is considered by Jordanians as one of the essential components of traditional Jordanian attire, whether for men or women. It was considered inappropriate for either of them to go out without a head covering, regardless of their religion, social status, or economic situation. Jordanian women have several different types of head coverings, including:
Al-‘Usaba: It is a piece of silk embroidered with golden or silver threads, and it can be red, black, dark brown, pink, or orange in color. It is embroidered in the form of a rectangular band for the head and is tied above the forehead. Its length ranges from one and a half to four meters. In Al-Karak, it takes the form of a circular belt adorned with gold coins. In Al-Salt, it is decorated with “Al-Shanashil” at its end. In Ma’an, it is short and filled with small gold pieces. Some women decorate it with “Al-Mabari,” which is a circular piece resembling a coin and adorned with blue, green, yellow, and red beads, or with a gold needle pin.
In some areas such as Madaba, its suburbs, Wadi Musa, and Al-Shawbak, women only wear it on their heads after getting married or giving birth to their first child. It is called “Al-Hatta” or “Al-Habariyah.”
Al-Thawb Al-‘Ub: It is made of black fabric known as “Al-Dabiyah,” which is a low-cost alternative compared to silk fabric used by wealthy women. It is named so because it consists of two layers, with the upper layer being shorter than the lower one. The chest of the thobe is embroidered in a rectangular shape with various bright colors using threads known as “Al-Kabakeeb.” The lower part of the thobe is also embroidered with similar colors in a circular pattern.
Al-Shanbar: It is also known as “Al-Mandil,” “Al-Musaffah,” or “Al-Malfa’. It is a piece of fabric with multiple colors, most commonly black and white or combined. It is wrapped around the head before placing the “Al-‘Asaba” on the forehead. The length of Al-Shanbar can extend to reach the lower back.
Al-‘Urjah: It is a piece of gold jewelry connected with beads of bright colors and worn in the front of the head. Jordanian women wear it in a curved shape, which is why it is called “Al-‘Arjah.” .” Golden “Liras” (currency) are attached to it. It is placed in the front of the head and extends backward down to the back. Only brides and married women wear it during wedding celebrations.
Al-Saffah: Similar to “Al-‘Arjah” in the front, but it does not extend to the back, and it lacks beads. golden pieces of currency are placed on a
fabric adorned with embroidery. Only married women wear it. Like “Al-‘Arjah,” it comes with the dowry (Al-Mahr) and other bridal accessories.
Al-Bishkeer: It is a small colorful handkerchief adorned with roses and a net on its edges. It is widely used in the Jordan Valley and worn on top of Al Shanbar.
In the late 1940s, a large number of residents from Irbid and Al-Ramtha migrated to West Germany. They brought similar towels to the ones used in the Jordan Valley, so they named them “Al-Bishkeer Al-Almani” (German Towels)
The “Al-Bahriyah” is a type of footwear for women. It is red in color and is made from a soft and tanned leather called “Hawr,” which is commonly goat or sheepskin. It has a leg that does not exceed the ankle, and on the upper part, it has two ear-like structures that are connected with a fixed leather strip in the front. The stitching of the footwear is done internally, where the leather is stitched from the side facing the foot first, then the shoe is turned inside out so that the stitching becomes internal, and the face of the shoe is on the outside.
“Al-Sabbat” is made of plastic, and it is similar to the socks known today, which were called “Al-Maswad” in the past.

Traditional Jordanian Costumes
- Archives of the Heritage Directorate / Ministry of Culture
- Intangible Cultural Heritage in Al-Balqa Governorate - Ministry of Culture 2017
- Intangible Cultural Heritage in Al-karak Governorate - Ministry of Culture 2017
- Intangible Cultural Heritage in Al- Zarqa Governorate - Ministry of Culture 2017