Oriental dance costumes from the 1700's, 1800's and the 1900's

Belly dance has evolved in many different countries through different ways and little is preserved to give an idea how it was centuries ago. This collection has pieces as old as 1714, probably the earliest account on printed paper.

It's origins are found in the Middle Eastern every day life. Women and girls dancing between themselves in schools, in their homes at weddings (separated from the men) and other festivities. Orientalists who watched women of gypsy tribes dancing at public places, witnessed one of the roots of oriental dancing
The very first Oriental dancer the Egyptians have known was "Shooq". She's reached the climax of her career in 1871 and starting from Shooq many Egyptian Belly dancers have successfully followed her footsteps.

Samia Gamal was born 1924 as Zainab Ibrahim Mahfuz in Wana, a little egyptian town. Soon after her birth the family move into Cairo to live near the famous Khan el-Khalili basar. When Zainab met the Syrian-Lebanese (Lebanon was at that time still part of Syria) founder of modern Oriental dance, Badia Masabni, her life took a turn. Baadia Masabni accepted

Zainab in her dance company and gave her the artist name Samia Gamal.Fernandel and Samia Gamal

Samia Jamal is considerd as the second after Tahieah Karryoka. Samia made Belly dance more expressive and toke it to a more respectable status. Samia Jamal worked under Badi'a Masabni when Tahieah Karryoka was the star of the group.

After a while she developed as a soloist and introduced a more looser improvational style into her dancing. Samya soon incorporated other elements such as classical ballet and latin american dance into her solo performances. Samia Gamal started veil dancing when instructed by Ivanova, her classical dance teacher to use a veil to improve her arm carriage. (thank you Zurina).
Samya Gamal became also the first belly dancer performing with high-heeled shoes on the stage. Samia also played in many movies.
A second important event in her live was the meeting with Farid el Atrache and they felt in love with each other.

Farid al-Atrache did "Ahebbek Enta (It's you that I love) of Ahmad Badrakha together with Samia Gamal in 1949. That same year the egyptian King Farouk proclaimed Samia Gamal "The National Dancer of Egypt". In the movie "She-devil" Samia played a double role as Semsema the dancer and as the female dzinn Kahramana. The bond with Farid al Atrache didn't stay a secret although they did a movie entitled "Mat Oulch 'Lehad (Tell it to nobody), 1952".