Apart from legislative occasions, a chokha also can be worn when washing a car.
Georgian lawmakers might soon need to upgrade their wardrobes if a new legislative fashion bill gets through parliament. The legislation, currently under discussion, will allow representatives to get decked out in traditional outfits for ordinary sessions of the national assembly.
The Conservative Party, a member of the ruling Georgian Dream alliance, and one with a taste for wearing traditional attire to parliament's opening sessions, initiated the sartorial bill in a bid to "popularize" traditional Georgian culture, but many of the rest of the representatives were left scratching their heads.
The centerpiece for Georgian men's traditional dress is the chokha, a waist-hugging longish wool coat complete with bandoliers and daggers. The ladies of the legislature might need to put on headdresses, attached to long, gauzy veils, to match their full-length dresses, possibly worn over stiff petticoats or crinolines.
Many Georgian men eagerly don chokhas for weddings and other social functions, but women tend to be less inclined to adopt their ancestors' clothing.
Sporting such attire within Georgia's spaceship-style parliament could make for an unusual visual contrast, to say the least. Georgian Dream parliamentarian Levan Berdzenishvili, no fan of chokhas, expressed skepticism about women MPs milling around the legislature with chikhti-kopis on their heads.
But while the makeover would definitely give Georgia’s political battles a period-drama look, legislators need to work out the kinks first. The chokha bill proposes to leave the lawmakers with a fashion choice between business and traditional styles. No parliament factions opposed the bill in particular, but some MPs requested that the author of the bill, Conservative Party deputy Bidzina Gujabidze, define “traditional attire.”
Would armor and chainmail also do? And what about national minorities? Is, say, a Ukrainian embroidered dress and a flower wreath, also fine?, asked Khatuna Gogorishvili of the opposition United National Movement. Some said that bearing a dagger -- a must with a chokha -- is not a very good idea in Georgia's highly polarized political environment.
And one more question to be is asked is whether or not taxpayers are going to have to pay for the parliamentarians' new, vintage looks . . .