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Musicians in Egypt wearing jellabiya

The jellabiya[citation needed], also jalabiya,[1] galabeya[2] or jalamia (Arabic: جلابية / ALA-LC: jilabīyah, Egyptian slang: galabiya, Egyptian Arabic: [ɡæ.læ.ˈbej.jæ, ɡæl.læ-]; "jelebeeya" in Ethiopia; "jehllubeeya" in Eritrea) is a loose-fitting, traditional garment from the Nile Valley. Today, it is associated with farmers living in Egypt (Greater Cairo, countryside, Luxor, and Aswan) and comes in rich color varieties. The garment is also worn in Sudan, but has other textures and is usually white,[3] as well as some communities from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The colorful Egyptian style is used by both men and women.[4]

Beja boy in east Sudan wearing jellabiya
Egyptian boy in striped galabeya

The jellabiya differs from the Arabic thawb, as it has a wider cut, typically no collar (in some cases, no buttons) and longer, wider sleeves. Versions for farmers have very wide sleeves and sewn-in pockets used to carry tobacco, money, or other small items. Along the Red Sea coast in Egypt, and Sudan and among Beja tribesmen, the Arabic dishdash is preferred due to the jellabiya's relation to farming.

Jellabiya worn in summer are often white. During winter, thicker fabrics that are grey, dark green, olive, blue, tan or striped are used, and colorful scarves are worn around the neck. The garment is traditionally worn with an ammama (turban).

A full male dress in Sudan usually consists of three pieces, the jibba, the kaftan, and the sederi. The gebba/jibba, is the outermost garment characterized by a long opening over the chest. The urban version used to have this opening continue to the end, which made the jibba effectively a long coat. It has one pocket on one side and on the other side, just an opening that leads to a pocket in the Kaftan, the gallabiya's undergarment. The kaftan is perfectly aligned with the jibba and worn under it for protection against both heat and cold. It is also made of pure cotton to avoid irritation caused by the wool of the winter jibba. Between the kaftan and the jibba there is a sederi (vest) which has small pockets for money, cigarette packs, and even pistols. A traditional kamees and a sirwal are usually worn underneath the three piece suit.[citation needed]


Men's galabeya in Egypt typically have wider hems and sleeves in the country than in the city, and a wide neckline with a slit. In the city, there is usually a button placket instead of a simple slit.[5] Dull, solid colors, stripes, and plaid are considered appropriate for men's galabeya, while women's are usually prints and bright colors (or occasionally solid black).[6] In the summer, men's galabeya are made of cotton, while in winter they are made of flannel or wool in darker colors. A heavier galabeya may be worn on top of another and feature couched cord or braid decorations concentrated on the neckline, sometimes with braid buttons.[7]

In Egypt, two men's galabeya with collars exist: the galabeya frangi (foreign) which has a western shirt collar, and the galabeya scandarani (Alexandrian) which has a stand collar. They also have breast pockets and collars, buttoned placket front openings, high necklines, and a slightly tighter cut. These are seen as more sophisticated styles of men's galabeya compared to the standard.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Kushkush, Isma'il (September 2020). "In the Land of Kush". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  2. ^ "A Brief History of the Galabeya, an Icon of Traditional Egyptian Dress". CSA Reviving Community. Retrieved 2024-02-16.
  3. ^ Perner, Conradin (2017-03-15). Why Did You Come If You Leave Again?: The Narrative of an Ethnographer's Footprints Among the Anyuak in South Sudan. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1-5245-7187-0.
  4. ^ Challen, Paul (2015-07-15). The Culture and Crafts of Egypt. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-4994-1157-7.
  5. ^ Rugh, Andrea. Reveal and Conceal: Dress in Contemporary Egypt. p. 114.
  6. ^ Rugh, Andrea. Reveal and Conceal: Dress in Contemporary Egypt. p. 129.
  7. ^ Rugh, Andrea. Reveal and Conceal: Dress in Contemporary Egypt. p. 14.
  8. ^ Rugh, Andrea. Reveal and Conceal: Dress in Contemporary Egypt. p. 116.