Like many countries, Algeria prides itself in an array of traditional clothing, each with a unique history. For both men and women, the existence of traditional clothing in Algeria allows Algerians to take pride in their country’s past, as well as tell a story. Each wilaya (provinces) of Algeria has its own clothing: given that there are 48 wilayas in Algeria, that’s a whole lot of culture and clothing!
In this instance, I am going to introduce to you one of the most beautiful and elegant pieces of women’s traditional clothing in Algeria; from the capital city Algiers.
The Karakou, though predominantly the clothing of Algiers, gathers all Algerians; worn in the four corners of the country, the Karakou is a national symbol of the grace, elegance and detail taken in women’s traditional clothing.
Consisting of a vest embroidered with gold made by goldsmiths, the Karakou is known for its intricate design and craft. This unique piece is made to last a lifetime, and each Karakou is different from the other. Each woman’s Karakou will differ from the next. Embroidery is done on fine velvet, this choice of fabric specifically because its expression of luxury and sophistication.
Of course, like all clothing, it will always be adapted and moderated for the era you’re in. With the Karakou, it has continued to modernise over the centuries, to adap to the current trends of women at the time. At the beginning, this piece was actually named the “Ghlila”, then in the 15th Century the name change occurred, changing to Karakou.
The Gilila still exists, and the difference between the two suits is that the Ghlila has a neckline, whilst the Karakou is bent at the waist. Modern Algerian women are also taking to their own creativity and designing their own, providing sketches, materials and colours for their own unique, one of a kind pieces.
Written by Naila Missous