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How to Make a Mongol Crossover Coat

Research by Charles Mellor, may be reproduced if properly credited

This pattern is conjectural. It is based upon garments seen in Persian miniature paintings of 1300 to 1620.I have made many of these and they do look like the paintings if done this way.This pattern incorporates evidence seen in 18th, 19th, and early 20th century extant garments from Mongolia, China and India. It is very similar to a long-sleeved kimono with side gores added to the skirts. This makes sense because Mongolian and Japanese clothing share the common influence of China, and Persia was influenced by Chinese and Mongolian cultures. I also know that India was influenced by Persia and probably the reverse as well. Since this pattern is conjectural, I have not attempted to show any seams that would have been necessitated by loom-width economies. If you are interested in this, I am sure you can look at 'Cut my Cote' and figure it out, but since I don't know the width of the fabric available in Persia, I just cut for economy with the width I have.

Both men and women wore this type of garment, though it is seen more commonly on men. It can be worn as the outermost layer or underneath a Persian caftan. The most common length seen in paintings is just over the calf. I have worn one this length in a horse pasture, and that length just clears a typical pile of horse manure. Makes sense for a culture that spent so much time on horseback. Paintings show this garment in every length from floor length to short enough to tuck into the pants. Paintings show men and women wearing all lengths, though the women wear the longer lengths more frequently. This garment overlaps in the front, making a double-thickness of fabric. This can be quite warm. In the paintings you often see them wearing these with the front ends of the skirts pulled up and tucked into the belt at the sides of the hips. This allows a little more air circulation and shows off the brightly-coloured lining. It also swishes very nicely for dancing. Because Persian paintings are laid out using pounced stencils, designs are frequently reversed from left to right. Therefore it is impossible to tell from the paintings if these garments usually tied on the left or the right or if it was different sides for men and women. I do know that if you plan to do archery in this outfit (a common activity seen in this garment in the paintings) you need to put the ties on the side you draw the arrow with. This garment is always worn over pants similar to Turkish salwar.

Based on paintings of the period, a very drapey, softer fabric was most common. I have seen no evidence in paintings that the super-starched Turkish look was ever used in Persia. Based on paintings, appropriate fabrics would be: brocades with small, over-all geometric patterns, brocades with small over-all patterns of Chinese motifs (most typically cloud-scroll patterns), brocades with arabesque patterns, brocades with foliate or acanthus in either over-all or serpentine runners, solids with gold embroidery or stamping randomly applied or applied to hem and wrist, Turkish style brocades, Venetian style brocades, plain solid fabrics. Even though everybody thinks stripes are typical of Middle Eastern design, stripes are never shown for use in garments in Persian art, except for peasant/labourer class clothing. These were typically lined (at least the skirts) in a contrasting color. Sometimes the ties were made of self-fabric and sometimes made of ribbon. Unlike similar garments from India, the ties were not really emphasized as a decorative element. I show four ties on this pattern, but you could use more if you are taller.

Fitting

This seems to fit best when the width measurement of the garment is made about an inch or two smaller than the smallest actual measurement of your torso. The ties then adjust for any variation. If someone is uncomfortable about showing a large belly you could make it so it just skims the figure, but they seem to have been worn fairly tight in the pictures, even on people who are quite large. I find these most comfortable when the skirts are full enough that you could ride a horse or do a grand plie in them. To make this fit well on a woman, you may need to adjust the vertical position of the ties, or just increase the number of ties until it pretty much fills up all the gaps. Based on all the evidence I have seen of extant Turkish garments, I don't believe any bust shaping would have been used, but if you are extremely busty, you could taper it somewhat from bust to waist, although I think you can adjust the ties to account for a lot of bust shaping.

Variations

  • This is typically worn with sleeves about 10 inches longer than the fingertips, but pushed up to the wrist. Can also be made short sleeved, just above the elbow.
  • The skirt gores can be made of rectangle-shaped pieces with a deep inverted pleat or multiple gathers at the waist. Distribute the pleats or gathers into a width of 1 inch or less.
  • Skirt can be slit in back for riding, or also on the sides.
  • Prior to about 1400, the taper of the sleeve would not be as great; making a sleeve that was more open at the wrist. Since this would not stay up when pushed up at the wrist, the sleeves were shortened somewhat, to approximately knuckle length