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The "Kechabia" Returns to Fashion

     In Algeria, the kechabia is an indispensable part of the traditional male costume, in addition to common Maghreb traditional costumes like burnous, the gandoura… which are part of the Maghreb heritage. The kechabia is the perfect garment to face the harsh winters that‘s why all the Algerians cherish it .The Know-how is perfectly mastered by the "Ouled Nail"(Biskra, Djelfa,…), a great Arabized Berber tribe in Algeria. 

    The kechabia is made of the sheep and camel wool or hair (in Arabic called loubar) and in order to make a pretty kechabia, it is necessary to choose perfect wool or hair. Therefore, the wool of young camels whose age must not exceeds the first years , is the preferable .Actually, all Algerians prefer kechabia which is made of pure camel hair threads (luxurious kechabia) because unlike sheep wool, camel wool is softer and more flexible. Furthermore, it is strong and waterproof, a shield against pollution, absorbs moisture, retains the air, and it allows both to guard against freezing cold as hot weather.

   The kechabia is made in two stages. The first is based on the work of wool that only women master it because they have the gift of patience, tact, mastery and rigor; qualities that make kechabia a traditional prestige clothing. Then, it is the men who will be in charge of the assembly that’s to say sewing and embroidery, in the second stage. It comes with two colors, in general, brown or dark yellow and sometimes in dark. Eventually, the colors of the kechabia vary depending on the age and species of the animal. It takes seven days to make a kechabia with hood and it costs between 25000DA and 70000DA; depending on the material in which it is made of. However, the kechabia is threatened with extinction because of the scarcity of the raw material, namely wool and camel hair, essential inputs in manufacturing this ancestral craftsmanship and traditional outfit.

    Despite the presence of the Romans, Phoenicians, Ottomans, and French in Algeria, the traditional Algerian costumes have kept its personality and presence. For the Algerians, the burnous and the kechabia are, more than ever, their favorite stuffs. They are available in their closets. This anti-freeze, traditional and luxury garments never gone out of fashion despite the counterfeiting; the appearance of "hybrid" kachabias, woven wool mixed with synthetic fibers or  wool mixed with camel hair or flannel. 

Written by ARAB Sabrina

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