Beginning of Costume, Growth of Dress out of painting, cutting etc…,
Study of dyed and printed textiles of India –Bhandhani, patola , ikkat, kalamkari- in all
the above types and techniques used.
Study of woven textiles of India – Dacca Muslin, Banarasi/ Chanderi brocades, baluchar,
himrus and amrus, Kashmir shawls, pochampalli , silk sarees of Kancheepuram
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------BEGINNING OF COSTUMES
From the beginning the subject of costume has received a full share of the world’s
interest and attention.
The impulse towards adornment was prominent in the primitive ancestor in his
usage of paint, tattoo and human bones, which is today expressed in milady’s rouge,
feathers and future.
In the distant age, man lived in caves and under rocky cliffs. He mainly wanted to
secure food and preserve his life, dress did not exist. But, the impulse towards dress grew
out of this early life which has dedicated to the hunt and the chase.
The beginning of the dress was in the form of body decoration. Painting, cutting
and tattooing of the skin are forms of body decoration, which were the first steps towards
modern dress.
The ambition to be distinguished from others stimulated the desire towards the
desire towards dress.
When primitive hunters returned to his tribe stained with blood, he found
that these evidences of his might (greatness) were respected and admired. Thus
physical power was the only standard of worth in early age. The blood stains
indicated courage and might which compelled veneration (respect) of others. So,
man sought for more permanent badges of bravery. Blood marks were left upon
the body as long as possible. When they were gone, the scars remained. Out of the
admiring blood marks and scars on human skin, a dim sense of beauty arose.
The next source of inspiration after blood marks were coloured clays.
They were available in the plenty. The people started to apply the clay to their
faces, head and bodies (with this coloured pigment). Soon they were expressed
at regular and measured intervals. Thus a sense of rhythm and idea of pattern
Even now, the present-day savage of Australia carries a supply of white
and red and yellow ochre’s with which he touches up his face with spots of
colour. On festive occasions, he paints his entire body in pattern.
The Andamanese living in Andaman Island of Indian Ocean are the lowest
order of savages, and paint the entire body with a pale green when in mourning.
They use white for decoration and yellow ochre mixed with fat, for facial
The American Indians when going on war cover their faces with rhythmic
patches of yellow, red and blue.
The rouge and patch which were in fashion during the 18th century are
refinements of age-old body painting.
After painting, another form of body decoration was discovered. It was the cutting
Knife blades made of bone, horn, flint and other stones were finished with a fine
point and edges. With these tools the fashion leaders used to cut or slash his skin in forms
of pattern.
Cutting was followed by tattooing. Here, the skin was marked with slight
incisions (cuts) and colouring material was added. This form of decoration was expressed
in elaborate pattern.
The custom is event today found among South Sea Islanders, the Burmese, the
Chinese and Japanese. Among the things found of the ancient cave ancient men used
ground ochre and other colours used in painting and tattooing have been found.
Bandhanis or choonaris are the colourful sari and odhnis dyed by tie and dye
process. These are popular amongst the women of Gujarat, Kathaiwar, Rajasthan and
Indian women are known for their love for bright colours. Also the tradition and the
customs of wearing special colours on different festivals, makes it necessary for them to
become familiar with the art of dyeing at home. Thus besides the expert professional
dyers almost every Indian girl learns by practice a good deal of the art of dyeing and
Bandhani work.
Bandhanis differ from Patola as regards the stage at which they are dyed. Like Patolas
they are dyed by the tie & dye process, which, however, is done after the fabric is woven.
The fabric is folded over several times until reduced to a small thick square or a
rectangular piece. The piece is then damped and pressed on a block on which a design is
carved. The impressed portions are picked up by the finger nails (the nails are allowed to
grow especially for the purpose and are used as a sort of pincers) & are then tied up with
cotton thread in a thickness sufficient to resist the dye.
It needs training and great skill to pick up all the layers at once and make it crinkle in
a particular given manner. The bandhanari or the woman who does the tieing up work
works swiftly and ties up all the impressed portions without cutting the thread but carries
it over from one point to the next. The dyeing process is carried out in the same order as
in Patolas, starting with the light colours & finishing with the dark ones. But each time,
before a new shade colour is applied the tieing up process has got to be repeated.
Usually, the designs used are copies of a few traditional ones & by the practice of
tieing up the same design over & over again the bandhanaris become expert to such an
extent that they are able to dispense with the process of impressing the fabric with the
The motifs of the traditional designs used for Bandhanis represent animals, birds,
flowers and dancing dolls. When elaborate designs are used the Bandhanis are known as
“Gharchola”. In some of the expensive “Gharchola” gold threads are woven in to form
checks or squares, and then the designs are formed in each of the squares by the tie and
dyed process. The “Choonaris” are very light fabrics, and the designs for these consist of
dots or pin heads irregularly spread all over the field of the cloth. Sometimes the dots are
grouped together to form a design, and the design is known as “Ek bundi” (one dot),
“Char bundi” (four dots) and “Sat bundi” (seven dots).
It might interest our readers to know that in some parts of Rajputana e.g. , Alwar,
professional dyers existed till a couple of decades ago, who could dye even the finest
muslin in two different colours, one annas four a yard. This art too is now extinct but
specimens can be found in some museums.
Patola is an artistically ornamented fabric. It is a specimen of wonderful
combination of the craft of tie-dyeing (bhandhana) and weaving. Patola is mostly in use
as a wedding sari in Kathiawar and Gujarat. In Japan and Indonesia too the Patola fabric
is used for wedding dresses. The fabric is so exquisitely and so highly valued that it is
handed from generation to generation in the family. Women of Gujarat and Kathiawar
treasure the possession of a Patola with pardonable pride.
The elaborate and intricate patterns are the speciality of patola saris. The silky art
with which patolas are woven is first dyed by the bhandhana process before it is put on
the loom. The yarns, both warp and weft, are dyed in the lightest of the colours, then they
are stretched on the ground, and the dyer proceeds to mark certain portions to indicate the
lines of the desired design. His wife who helps him in his work, then ties up the marked
portions with cotton threads. So tightly that the next dye cannot penetrate through to the
tied up portions. The yarn is then immersed in dye- baths of the desired colours and
shades. The operation of tie-dye in repeated several times until all the colours and shades
required for the planned design have been applied to the yarns. The dyer begins with a
light colour, passes next to a bright one and applier the dark colour at the very last. Then
the weavers start on his job.
The process of producing a patola is therefore a very laborious one and so in
extremely complicated too.
Patola fabric on the other hand called ikkat. The Ahmedabad patola is a, textile of
a textile of a unique character. The method of weaving in the Ikkat of Orissa, the
Pochampalli textiles and pattola are somewhat similar but the patola weaver has retained
his geometrical designs. We may conclude that Ikkat are the innovation of the patola
style of weaving.
The following eight designs are used by the weavers of patola;
● NARI- JUNDAR BHAT- Dancing girl and an elephant design, has necessarily
a parrot included in it
● PAN BHAT (or) LEAF DESIGN- It is said to be the leaf of the scared papal
● RATTAN CHAWAK BHAT (or) THE CROSS OF DIAMOND DESIGNIt has interspersed diamond also.
● OKAR BHAT (or) WATER CREST DESIGN- walnut design
● PHALVADI BHAT (or) FLORAL DESIGN- It is generally enclosed in
Diapers outlined by a single line. Each diaper contains
Three flowers.
alternate with each other in the design.
● CHABRI BHAT (or) BASKET DESIGN- elephant design
● CHOWKHADI BHAT- A diaper with a double outline design. Each diaper
included three flowers borne on a slim.
There is one more design which is used for dhotis (the loin cloth worn by men).
This design consists of the devangri alphabet and the forms of the letters follow those of
the mantras (hymns) in religion as book.
Pattan, a place in Kathiawar, is reputed to be the (birth place of Patola) the
weavers of Pattan, later migrated to Bombay, Ahmedabad and Surat and making of
Patola started at these places also.
Orissa weavers also have adopted the Patola, technique for weaving their special
fabrics like curtains, bed spreads, odhnis (scarf) worn over the head and the head and
draped round the shoulders and waist by women and saris. The famous Sambalpore saris
are woven like patolas.
It was among the choicest exports from the great textile centre in Surat along the
Caravan routes to the markets of Samarkhand, Bohkhara, Baghdad, Basra, Damascus &
Rome in the 15th & 16th Centuries. The making of a Patola is a difficult & complicated
process. Its unique quality is that the threads of the warp & weft are separately dyed in
portions in such a way that the patterns on the finished product emerge in weaving. Patola
manufacturer is restricted nowadays but a few rare, choice pieces are still available.
The techniques, the quality and the originality of design of the ikkat textiles of
India are unsurpassed. Of special significance is the Patola cloth. Patola weaving is an
ancient Indian textile craft well known as a luxbury export to Malaya and Indonesia in
the 16th century. Today these fabulous and costly as ‘IKKAT’, a derivative of the Malay
word Mengikat, meaning ‘to tie’ or ‘to bind’, this technique entails binding (resisting)
and dyeing the warps and weft before weaving.
Whereas the double-ikkat weaving tradition of Gujarat is in danger of education,
the weavers of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have prospered, flooding the hand loomed
cloth market with fashionably coloured and patterned single and double Ikkat saris
garment and furnishing cloth.
The Ikkat textiles of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa are woven and prepared with
essentially the same technique as their illustrious forbears to the west, but the looms and
tools are quite different. In Orissa the fine, detailed patterning is achieved by using very
thin yarns, and by tying and dyeing small numbers of threads on a rectangular frame.
Orissa Ikkats are woven an counter balance fly shuttle, cradle loom, the structure
resisting on the edges of the weavers fit. The heddle and harness system hangs from the
ceiling and the warps to be woven are either wound on to a cloth beam or run over a
beam and tied in the roof space, out of the way. In Andhra Pradesh the warps are tied
ready for for dyeing at their full length, whereas the wefts are tied in groups on a frame,
fanning out to form the segment of a circle from a control peg. The simple pit loom is
anchored in position by posts set firmly in the ground and the warps stretched from the
weaver across the room to focus and be wrapped around a post.
Kalamkari refers to a method of painting natural dyes onto cotton or silk fabric
with a bamboo pen or kalam. The name kalamkari translates as pen (kalam) work (kari)
in Hindi/Urdu, and was most likely derived from trade relationships between Persian and
Indian merchants as early as the 10th century CE. European merchants also had names
for this type of fabric decoration: the Portugese called it pintado, the Dutch used the name
sitz, and the British preferred chintz. The name kalamkari is used prominently today, and
is synonymous with both painted and hand blockprinted textiles that incorporate natural
vegetable/organically-derived dye stuffs. While there are many forms of kalamkari
throughout India and the world, the focus of this site is on extant kalamkari practice in Sri
Kalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, in South India.
The graceful Kalamkari designs are symbols of skillful, talented craftsmen, who
design them. Block making plays a crucial role, in printing a Kalamkari fabric, as it needs
to be sharp this is the name given to the hand printed cotton fabrics. They are so called
because the artist workout the designs on the material with a fine steel brush not unlike a
pen (kalam). A metal instrument, shaped like a pencil the sharp pointed edge, is lightly
hammered along the lines of the pattern.
The process is very much the same as used for batik work. The basic principle
namely resist – dyeing, being common to both. The material is first dyed in pale pink and
the stretch out tight. The artist then traces the outline of the design with his kalam or fine
brush dipped in melted wax. The fabric is then dyed deep red and finally washed in hot
water to melt away the wax. This produces the design in pink on the back ground of deep
red. Kalamdhar fabrics are also called, palampores in the textile trade. They are available
in rectangular pieces and are popular with Hindus and Muslims alike. The kalamkari
block printing produces a variety of designs on bed sheets, wall hangings, sarees, lungis,
napkins etc.
Dacca (now the capital of Eastern Pakistan) was, for centuries, synonymous with
the finest muslins the world has ever produced by hand or machine. Dacca weavers’
magic hands produced such exquisitely fine and delicate fabrics that the poetic name
“Ab-i-rawan” (Flowing water), “Baft-Hawa” (Woven air), and “Shabnam” (Evening
dew) were justifiably given to them. Exhibits in some of our museums prove even today
that a yard’s width of the muslin could easily pass through a lady’s ring. One of them
relates that a five yard piece of muslin could be packed in match box. Weaving of these
fabrics could only be done during the rainy seasons, because for the weaving of such an
extremely fine fabrics, a humid atmosphere was essential.
The value of Dacca muslins is estimated by the number of warp threads in a given
length of the material as compared with its weight. The greater the length and the number
of the threads, with comparatively less weight, the higher would be the price. Up to the
beginning of the 19th century, the Dacca muslin saris, one of the most artistic and
beautiful specimens of hand-loom textiles, were counted amongst their valuable and
cherished possessions by the women of Bengal.
The saris are generally grey, white or black with blue or black designs.
Occasionally, the patterns are woven in with bright coloured cotton, or silver or gold
threads. The Dacca muslins with the woven-in pattern are known as “Jamdani” patterns.
“Anchal” or“pallos” (end portions) and the borders are richly decorated. The rest of the
sari is generally covered with numerous small bootties. The common motif is the round
design bootties, which suggest chameli (Jasmine) flowers and around these are woven the
leaves that recall those of the sweet smelling champak. When the sprays of flowers are
spread all over the sari, it is called a “Boottedar” sari, and when the sprays are grouped in
diagonal lines, the sari is known as “Terchha”. But when the floral design forms a network which covers the entire field, then the pattern is known as “Jatar”.
Sometimes in Jamdani designs, the flowers are clustered together. The borders
and Palloo or Anchal (end portions) of saris are generally decorated with distinctive
figure designs. The figures chosen represent birds, animals, and human beings. Peacocks
or “mayura” and herons or “hansa” seem to be popular as bird-figures in the designs of
Dacca saris. Also some of the motifs indicate the influence of mythological legends, as
well as of the local traditions. The designs are commonly accepted as of Persian origin
but many of the designs depict incidents from the Hindu mythology.
Baluchar, a small town near Murshidabad in West Bengal has become a noted and
a highly valued name in the handloom textile history of India. The artisans of the locality
produced very artistic figured silk saris known as Baluchar Butedar. In these saris the
pallos were the most ornamented portions. The field of the remaining portion of the sari
was decorated with small butis of some floral designs or figure designs of birds. The
special feature of Butedar is that the designs used for the ornamentation shows a strong
influence of Mughal art. The weaver of Baluchar “Toranj”(also called Kalka or guldasta)
which is the most popular motif in weaving embroidery and printing throughout India,
under its present application “the mango design” in the design of pallo, the famous ever
popular “Toranj” as seen as though these are set in a frame. The border of the frame is
representation of a lady smelling a flower and seated in a sort of niche. The inter spaces
are filled with neatly arranged rows of Toranj lined with an outer border of flowering
plant. The border design which is a simple and straight combination 0f a small Toranj and
flowering plant is continued for the border of the whole sari.
The wonderful art of weaving fabrics in Baluchar is lost forever and a few extinct
scattered specimens in some museums are the mementoes of the perfection it had
In Baluchar Butedar saris consisting of the buti designs are woven with a silk weft
in old gold, white, red, crème, orange, yellow the ground colour usually being in a
flaming red deep, purple or short with dark reds and blues. The ground colour may
however occasionally be done blue but this was not very common in the past. The design
of the field is generally made up in the traditional saris of butis, formal sprays both large
and small set out on the sari ground like a mosaic each colourful spring like an
enamelled. Jewel glittering to look at, the colour harmonies an invariably soft and subtle
and reposeful, with only a muted whisper of frivolity, gaiety, glamour and romance.
The Anchala or end-piece of the Baluchar Butedar sari is traditionally highly
decorated the design consisting of Kalkas, flowing plants the tree of life, animals, women
conversing or in customery, poses, ladies, with flowers, men smoking the hooka or
shown riding all elaborately detailed, but with the animals and the male and female
figures and even the plant life, highly formal and stylized.
The Baluchar butedar saris produced in British times show the introduction of
European motif. The traditional Baluchar sari is mostly five yards in length and about
forty-two inches in width. The end pieces are design running the whole width of the sari
and are above twenty four to thirty two inches in height. It is therefore not too much to
imagine how a sari is five yards long and forty-two inches wide could take as long as six
months to produce.
The muslins woven in Chanderi, a place near Gwalior (M.P.) have earned a name
for themselves because of their fine quality. Chanderi saris are mostly cotton with borders
and pallos woven in silk or gold threads sometimes mixed threads of silk and cotton are
used for weaving. The fabrics are known as “Garbha reshmi”. The pallos of these are
very artistically ornamented with gold threads while the ground of the sari is checked
with butis in the centre of each check square. The borders are woven with double threads
which produce an effect of two colours one on each side. The saris are woven in nine
yard lengths and are very much valued by the Maharastrian ladies.
Himrus are the famous silk brocades of Hyderabad (Deccan). The state’s second
largest town-Aurangabad is the chief centre of the art of Himru-weaving. Himru probably
a derivative of the Sanskrit Him (snow) is a fabric used in winter. The ground is cotton,
and silk is used for the brocade on the surface. The yarn used for weaving Himrus is spun
so as to produce, when woven, the effects of a warm soft material like wool. The
peculiarity of the Himru is that the silk thread which is used to form a pattern on the
surface of the cloth is carried to the reverse side of the cloth and is collected there in
clumsy long loops. This forms a rather loose but soft warm layer. Further, the
accumulation of the loose threads on the reverse of the cloth necessitates a lining to all
garments made of Himru cloth. Thus Himru garments make very warm clothing suitable
for the cold season.
When silk thread is used exclusively for weaving Himru, the fabric is called
“Amru”. Amrus are generally made in Ahmedabad, Surat & Banaras. Himrus are used for
men’s Achkans, Chogas, and for female wear also, e.g., for blouses and lehangas. For
generations, the Nawabs of Surat used a special quality of Himru fabrics for their dresses
which was called the “Nawab’s Himru”. These fabrics are also used for upholstery and
The well known Tie & Dye process consists in dyeing the required portions of
cotton yarn & protecting the other portions which are to remain white by tieing them with
cotton yarn from taking the colour at those spots which are visible after the dyeing
process and the removal of the tieing material.
The warp is spread longitudinally in a shut form and the design is marked on it.
The portion to remain white is tied with cotton thread white, the portion to be dyed is left
exposed. The work of tieing proceeds until the whole design is completed. The tie warp is
then immersed in the dye bath and dyed. The colour impregnated on the exposed portions
which are repeatedly dipped in the dye with the handle. After the dyeing is completed the
warp is well washed in cold water & dried. The tie work is further repeated to produce a
darker shade in the selected portions which are left loose this time. The tieing & dyeing is
repeated as many times as the number of colours in the designs. After the final dyeing is
completed the tieings on the yarn are removed. This completes the process for warp
dyeing. The tie dyeing of the weft is done similarly but the weft is placed on semi circular
peg board. Here again the design is marked and the tieing commences pick by pick. After
the completion of tie dyeing of warp & weft, weaving is undertaken.
The warp is placed in position on the loom in a slanting form and the picks are
inserted one by one. Great care is taken to see that the pieces falls in the correct are richly
decorated position. Each piece is given individual attention by regulating it in its correct
adjustment of the design. Designs used in pochampalli are traditional once. Designs such
as temple model, parrot, elephant, peacock, swan etc in geometrical forms.
So long as human brain will continue its superiority over computers, aesthetic
sense will compel him to admire the out of world beauty woven in silk (the queen of
textiles) by the weavers of Varanasi.
Name “Banarasi” has been derived from Banaras- a district in U.P. Generally, the
product gets its name and fame from the name of its origin.
Varanasi (Banaras), pre-historic holy city known as place of sacred shrines,
learning and culture having thousands of ancient temples and ashrams, magnificent ghats,
multitude of devotees is said to have been built by Gods on the bank of holy river
Ganges.Varanasi is also known as “Lyon of India” because of the Banarasi silk which
still continues to win the imagination of princes and peasants alike due to its dazzling
splendor and creative instinct of workmanship.
During Mughal era, Persian artists brought revolutionary development not only in
design but also in shades of Banaras sarees. Gold thread from France, silk yarn from
China and dye stuffs from Germany were introduced to produce more delicate marvelous
in rich innovations of the age. The infusion of east and west gave new dimensions to the
textiles industry of Varanasi. During British rule, East India Company introduced these
fabrics in European.
The beautiful value of Kashmir is justly famed for its textiles, above all for the
kashmiri shawls. The foundation of the Kashmir and shawl industry were traditionally
believed by Zain-Ul-Abidin (1412-70), ruler of Kashmir, who was reputed to bring
weavers from Turkestan to the valley. In the ‘Ain-i-Akbari’, the annals of the reign of the
Mughal emperor Akbar (ruled 1556-1605), revealed that his wardrobes were full of
shawls; Akbar introduced the fashion of wearing Kashmir shawls in Paris, stitched back
to back, so that the underside were never visible.
The classical Kashmir shawl was woven out of Pashmina wool, whose main
source was the fleece of Central Asian species of mountain goat, the capra hircus. This
fleece grows during the harsh, extremely cold winter, underneath the goats’ outer hair
and is shed at the beginning of summer. Pashmitha wool was always imported from Tibet
or Chinese Turkestan and was never produced in the vale of Kashmir itself. There were
two grades of Pashmina. The finest grade was known as asli tus’ and came from wild
goats. The second grade came from the fleece of domesticated goats and it was this grade
that always provided the main bulk of the yarn used by Kashmir looms.
Kashmir shawls were known as ‘Kani shawls’ and as ‘Jamawars’. Woven in the
twill tapestry technique, the weft threads of these shawls alone form the pattern. They do
not run across the full width of the cloth but are, by means of wooden spools known as
‘Togite’, woven back and forth across each section of the warp threads using the
particular colour that the part of the pattern requires. Weaving a shawl in this way was a
long, slow process. At the beginning of the 19th century, as shawl designs became more
complex, work on a single shawl was split between two or more looms, thus cutting the
length of time taken to weave the whole shawl and as the 19th century progressed and
designs became yet more complex, production was split between even more looms. The
woven pieces were sewn together by a ‘rafugar’ (needle worker), with stitchery so fine as
to make the joins virtually invisible.
Kashmir still produces many beautiful textiles, though most have a uniformity of
style that inevitably comes with catering to the mass market Kashmir shawls are still
made all over the valley. The weaving of Kani loom-woven pashmina shawls has been
received at the ancient weaving centre of Basohli in Jammu provenie, but nearly all the
Kashmir shawls made today are patterned by embroidery rather than by weaving only a
fraction of these shawls are woven out of pashmina wool. The majority are made cut of
yarn called ‘raffal’, introduced at the beginning of the 20th century, which is spun out of
merino wool. Ther are about one thousand handlooms weaving raffal shawls in Srinagar
as also are many powerlooms. In order to cut down on import costs, the rearing of
pashmina-bearing goats is being encouraged in the high arid changthang region of
1. Give a detailed note on beginning of costumes.
2. Explain about the dyed fabrics- bhandhini or patola or ikkat or kalamkari.
3. Write about the the textiles fabrics- dacca muslinor banarassi or chanderi or
banarassi or baluchar or himrus and amrus or kashmiri shawls or pochampalli.
: 2
Costumes of India – Traditional Costume of different States of India
Tamil Nadu , Kerala , Andhra Pradesh ,Karnataka ,Assam, Orrisa, Bihar, Mizoram,
Tripura,Nagaland, W.Bengal, Sikkim
In this region, the principal article of dress both for men and women is
mundu. It is a piece of white cloth, 2.3m in length and 1.4m in breadth which is worn
round the waist in the manner a lungi is worn. Most communities, both among Hindus
and Christians, tuck it inside on the right side of the waist while Muslims often do so,
on the left. The mundu reaches the ankle or nearly touches the ground. But it is
common to see men fold up the mundu from below up to the knees and tuck it in at
the front waist almost in the middle to allow free movements for the legs. It also
saves the garment from being soiled or getting wet during heavy rains. It is simple to
wear. One does not have to bother about adjusting the frontal pleats or back- tuck.
Since in a short wrapping, the garment is worn always with supporting under
garment. The traditional under garment has been konam or koupinam, a strip of cloth
passing between the thighs and attached, both at the back and at the front, to a waist
string. Konam has now generally been replaced by modern under wears. The tradition
upper garment for men is torthu or torthumundu, a short piece of cloth which is
thrown over the shoulders of folded and slung on one shoulder like a towel. But on
special occasion a cloth of better texture (parumundu), somewhat longer and broader,
is wrapped round the upper part of the body. The shirt, instead of the traditional wrap
is popular among the urban sections of the peoples. Even villagers are now using a
shirt while going out to public places.
There are also other modes of dressing in certain communities.
Namboothiris, Elayads and some others on religious occasions wear a long dhoti with
frontal pleats and back tuck. This style of wear is called thattu. Some communities of
both sexes while performing religious ceremonies follow this style of dressing. The
muslim men wear a mundu, white or coloured with a border. They sometimes tie the
mundu with a nool, a waist – string to which are attached some pieces of gold or
silver containing religious texts. They put on a small linen skull-cap. A few decades
ago it was customary for a government servant to wear a coat and headgear but this
practice has now disappeared.
Women wear mundu as a lower garment. Most women of Hindu
community also wear an under garment called onnaramundu. It is a large piece of
cloth wound tightly round the loins and then round the legs separately and tucked in
at the back on the right side. Its serves like short tight drawers. The women wear
bodice and blouse generally coloured, as upper garment. Some wear a longer piece of
cloth of finer texture over the shoulder as an additional garment, while going out.
Namboothiris wear an under garment in a different style. A knee- length cloth is
fastened tightly round the loins and then passed between the legs and tucked in
behind at the waist. Another cloth is wrapped around the breast under the armpits
reaching upto the thigh. While going out they cover themselves up from neck to ankle
with a long piece of cloth. It reminds us of the style in which a Toda woman covers
herself. The dress of the Tamil Brahmins who have settled in Kerala is the same as
described earlier and shown in.
Christian women are accustomed to dress in white clothes in particular
manner. They wear a white long-sleeved jacket up to the waist and a long white
(6.4m long and 1.2 m broad), with or without coloured border, tied around the waist
with a number of fans like fringes behind. Jewish women used a red coloured cloth as
a lower garment and a jacket. The Muslim women’s dress consist of white or
coloured mundu , full or half sleeved jacket with tight neck and a scarf thrown over
the head and falling over the shoulders. Modern styles are slowly replacing the
tradition ones. A large number of women wear half- sari (neriyatu) in combination
with mundu and blouse. A large percentage of women, mostly younger generation in
different castes and communities, have adopted sari, petticoat and blouse of modern
design. They are moving towards a more or less uniform pattern of dressing, though
they are exceptions. It is however, seen that as they grow older, many of them revert
to the traditional from of dress.
In the tamil speaking, region dothi is known as vesti. It is worn with a
posterior tuck in three different ways. The panchagachcham mode of wear uses fine
tucking as indicated by the name. Dothi is worn in this manner on sacred occasions,
mostly by Brahmins. The more common mode of wearing of the Brahmins is known
as trikachcham, using only three tucking. The portion drawn up behind is partially
pleated for tucking in and one edge of the portion is left dangling. In another style of
wear, the lower edge of the dangling frontal pleats is also drawn up between the legs
and tucked in at the back by the side of the first posterior tuck. The working class
wears a dhoti of shorter length and breadth with posterior tuck and a few frontal
pleats. On the left side it reaches up to the mid-thigh and on the right up to the knee.
Sometimes the surplus right portion of the dhoti is gathered breadth wise and
wrapped round the waist.
But the most common way of wearing the dhoti is to wrap it in a simple
manner round the waist without the back tuck. This mode of wear requires a thick
short dhoti (ottevesti), 3.7m in length. Sometimes a dhoti of double the length
(rettaivesti) is converted into a short dhoti by folding it length wise. An underwear or
komanam (langoti) is worn underneath the dhoti. Muslim men of the older generation
continue their old mode of dress. They wear a coloured lungi and a shirt. The dress of
the Christians resembles that of the Hindus.
A scarf (angavastram) is used for the upper part of the body. It is put round the
shoulders. Sometimes it is wrapped round the waist as a kamarband. Some Brahmins
tuck in a small kerchief or piece of cloth at the waist; it comes handy for dusting a
place clean before squatting. The north Indian bandi or any close-fitting upper
garment is conspicuous by its absence in these southern regions. The Brahminical
classes remain bare-headed like the Brahmins in Andhra or the people in the eastern
regions. Even non-Brahmins now prefer to go about without covering their heads,
except in districts bordering Karnataka and Andhra where voluminous headgears may
be seen.
The length of the sari varies from6.4m (7yds) to 9m (10yds) depending on the
manner of wearing. The standard mode (madisar) of wearing the sari with a posterior
tuck requires not less than 7m. The sari is known as selai or pudavai. The style of
wearing the sari generally depends on the caste or the sect of a community. It is
customary for Brahmin women, to pass the inner end of the sari between legs and to
tuck in at the behind. The points at which the pleats are tucked in at the left hip as is
the fashion with the smartha and Iyer women. Vaishnava women, for instance the
Iyengars, do not use any ornamental fold. Among some castes the pleats are worn at
the right hip while among a few the pleats are displayed at the back of the waist as is
done by the Coorg women.
Unlike the Maharashtrian women, the Tamil women conceal their back-tuck by
bringing the sari at least once more round the waist after the posterior tucking. The
ornamental pleats (kosavu) also get hidden under this second wrapping, only the
lower ends remain visible. The surplus portion of the sari that goes on the upper part
is called marapu. There are two styles of disposing of this upper portion. More often
the surplus portion is drawn form the left side over the bosom and the right shoulder
and then it is brought over the left side form the back for tucking in the edge in front
of the right hip as in the case of Iyer ladies. In the other style, the mode of wrapping
takes the opposite direction as in the case of Iyengar ladies. It is interesting to note
that in Karnataka that sari is universally carried over from the right hip to the left
shoulder. In Andhra two modes are prevalent but the Karnataka mode is more
preferred. In Tamil Nadu the mode of drawing the mode of drawing the sari over the
right shoulder appears to be far more common. The other mode of wearing the sari
without a posterior tuck is known as goodake for mambayakattu and is the style of
non-Brahmin women, though even Brahmin women adopt this mode on the nonformal and non-ritual occasions. In this style the upper portion of the sari is taken
from the right hip to the left shoulder. It requires only 5.5m of sari. In the past this
mode was not very popular, but now it is fast coming into vogue among all classes,
particularly in the towns, thus leveling the sartorial social distinctions.
Ravikkai, a tight jacket used as an upper garment, is slowly giving place to
blouse of modern style. As in Andhra Pradesh, the women in Tamil Nadu do not use
their sari to cover their heads. Muslim ladies, however, cover their heads. The dress
of young girl consists of a long skirt pleated all round, a blouse and a half-sari
(davanni) which does not fully cover the skirt. One end of the half-sari is tucked into
the left side of the shirt and the other end after tacking round the back is slung back
over the shoulder.
In Karnataka men use a dhoti called dhotara (3.7 to 4.6m long and 1.3m wide)
with a narrow coloured border on each of the length wise sides. It is draped round the
waist with a posterior tuck in the same manner as found in Maharashtra. In some
places, generally in the south of the state, younger men wrap a coloured or white
shorter piece of cloth (panche) in lungi-style, that is, without front pleats and backtuck. The style of wearing the lower garment is prevalent in all the four states of the
south. Shirt, jubba (similar to kurta) or banian covers the upper part of the body.
Elders often throw a piece of cloth (shalya or angavastra) over their shoulders. There
is a total absence of the type of turbans used by the Brahmins in Maharastra. But two
types of freshly folded headdress, the pheta and rumal were once in vogue like in
Maharastra. Rumal, a large square piece of cloth is less worn now. Pheta, the
characteristic headdress of the people of former Mysore state, is often bordered by a
lace. It is particularly worn in the south of Karnataka and is wound the head in a
triangular fashion. Many elderly people of the upper wear a voluminous white turban.
Cap is also occasionally worn in place of turban.
The dress of women consists of a sari called seere, and a tight-fitting short
jacket or blouse called kuppasa. One end of the sari is gathered into a bunch of frontal
pleats, while the other free end passing across the bosom is drawn over the left
shoulder so that it hangs behind or covers the back fully up to the right shoulder and
arm. Expect amongst Brahmins and some other caste, a portion of the sari is drawn
over the head. Some Brahmins sects, particularly Madhavas and Shrivaishnavas, wear
the sari in the kachcha style. Among the women of labouring classes, the posterior
tuck is common as it facilities free movement. Married women during some religious
functions use the inner loose end of the sari for tucking in at the back. In Karnataka,
the sari has a wider border (called acha) than in maharastra. In recent years the length
of a sari has been shortened to 4.6 to 5.5m. The upper garment is of a similar design
as found in Maharastra. The kuppasa is generally made of coloured cloth with gussets
and often has borders. The usual dress of a girl consists of a langa (skirt and a jacket).
Men of Muslim community generally wear dhoti, but elderly men sometime
used pyjamas instead. They are a skull-cap been tying turban. Muslim women wear
either sari and blouse or pyjamas and full sleeved shirt. The Moplahs who claim
decent from Arab trader of old, wear a white or striped cloth in lungi-style and put on
a shirt and a cap. Their women usually wear red or other coloured cloth or check
patterned sari in a lungi- fashion along with a full sleeved shirt. They wear silver
chains on their ankle and sometimes tie a piece of cloth on their forehead. The
Christian girls living in village wear white skirts over which a short saris worn in a
lungi-style, but married Christian women sari in usual fashion.
The coorgs have their own characteristics dress, for both their men and women.
Coorg men wear trousers, coat and shirt. But on festive occasion they come out with a
long coat of dark colour open in front and reaching below the knees. This sleeves of
the coat reach just below the elbows, exposing the arm of the white shirt worn
underneath the coat. On the right front a short Coorg knife with sliver or ivory handle
and fastened with a sliver chain, is stuck to the sash. A turban, large and flat at the
top, is worn covering the nape of the neck.
Coorg women wear the sari in a special style. First, one end of the sari is
wrapped round the waist and tied by a by a string after forming pleats and tucking
them at the back instead of in front. The other free end is bought from behind under
the right arm and passed under the left arm with its upper edge horizontally lined
from one armpit to the other above the bossom and the lower edge lying near the
ankle. The free end is then passed across the back, and its upper edge is pulled a little
over the right shoulder and knotted or pinned there with the upper edge of the front
portion. The women is covered with a coloured scraf, one side of the scraf lines the
forehead while its four corners are knotted together at the back allowing the ends to
fall on the shoulders.
The common dress of a men ion this region consists of dhoti, shirts or jubba
(kurta) and paibatta. The most common mode of wearing the dhoti is known as
gochipancha or panchakattu. The middle portion of the dhoti is adjusted along the
waist in such a manner that the portion of the right side is made longer than that of the
left side. The left portion is drawn up between the legs and tucked in the waist at the
back. In the old traditional style some portion of the edge hanging loose at the
posterior is spread out to cover the left side of the seat and again tucked in. The
longer portion of the dhoti on the right side is pleated and tucked in at the front. The
lower edge of the pleats are lifted up and tucked in at the front. The hind tucking is
called gochi and the front pleats are called kuchchela.
There is another style of wearing a short dhoti known as addapancha or
goodakattu. The short-dhoti about 2m long is simply wrapped round the waist and
held by side tucks without any frontal pleats or posterior tuck. It is a lungi-like wear
commonly adopted in the southern areas of the state and mostly worn by the younger
people as in Karnataka. Working class men generally wear this type of lower garment
and fold it up above the knees to facilitate easy movement of the legs.
For an upper garment, jubba is being replaced by a shirt. Most men in the
coastal region use a scarf called paibatta or kanduva. This piece of cloth about 2m in
length is usually folded and is put over one shoulder and then wound round the neck
and allowed to fall backward on the same shoulder. It is a prescribed item of dress for
ceremonial or religious occasions. In rural areas, poor people sling a hand women
towel over shoulder when they do not wear any upper garment. In villages the
Muslim men wear coloured and striped handloom lungi stitched at end, shirt or jubba
and towel. In towns, lungi is substituted by pyjamas and towel by cap. Sherwani is
worn on ceremonial occasions. Mode of dress of some Muslims and Christians
conforms closely to the Hindu pattern. Headdress on the Karnataka side of Andhra is
more voluminous than in Karnataka and is white. Brahmins generally prefer to move
about without any headdress.
Women wear sari (chira) and blouse (ravika). The sari is shorter than the one
favored in Maharastra, its length along 7.3m instead of 8.2m. Brahmins of Madhava,
Srivaishnava and some other continue to adhere to their customary style of wearing
sari with back-tuck known as billagochi. In this billagochi style, the end of the left
side portion of the sari is drawn up between the legs for a posterior tuck. Another
mode of wear with a posterior tuck is known as mattagochi, commonly current among
the labouring class. In mattagochi sari is worn in the usual goodakattu mode but the
front pleats are drawn up casually between the legs and tucked in at the back waist.
The side hanging of the sari is also taken up and tucked in at the sides. This
shortening of the vertical length of sari seems functional especially for work like
digging earthy, lifting bricks and climbing on scaffolds.
The standard mode of wearing sari among the non-Brahmins is without a
posterior tuck. As in found is north India. This style is called goodakattu but is
different from the goodakattu mode of male wear because the sari has the usual front
pleats. There are two different style of drawing up the surplus portion of te sari to
caver the upper part of the body. Generally, among Brahmins, the free end of the sari
is drawn up from the left side and taken over the left shoulder and the back or brought
in front under the right arm and tucked in at the left waist. Among other castes, the
process of draping the upper part of the body is just the reverse with the free end
passing over the right shoulder instead of left. In both the styles, it is not customary to
draw the end of the sari over the head. In this, it differs from the style of Karnataka
where the head is generally kept covered by ladies in non-Brahmins families. Earlier,
ravika, the upper garment, was like the Maharashtrian choli which fastens in front by
knotting two side flaps. Now ravika with modern cut is replacing the old style.
Female laborers in rural areas sometimes do not use ravika but fully cover their body
with the sari.
Grown-up girls wear ravika with a long skirt pleated all round and tied at one
end as a lower garments. Over the skirt they wear pamila (half-sari) measuring about
2.3m. It is pleated three or four times and tucked into the left side of the skirt. The
remaining portion of the pamita is brought round from behind and drawn up over the
left shoulder with its end hanging at the back. The pamita does not fully cover the
skirt. Muslim women generally wear the same dress as the Hindu women, but some
wear salwar and kameez.
Long hidden behind red tape, Assam`s beauty is a fact that defies imagination.
The rarest of flora and fauna, blue hills and green tea, a bustling capital and black oil, it is
a beauty that soothes even as it disturbs. Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan bound Assam in
the north, Nagaland to the east, and Manipur and Mizoram to the south. In the southwest,
Assam touches the borders of West Bengal and Bangladesh.
There is one ensemble that can be called the traditional costume of the Assamese
women. It is known as the "mekhala and chadar". The dresses of most Assamese women,
whichever tribe they may belong to, can be called variations of the mekhala and chadar.
Assam is the home of several types of silks, the most prominent and prestigious
being muga, the golden silk exclusive only to this state. Muga apart, there is paat, as also
eri, the latter being used in manufacture of warm clothes for winter. Of a naturally rich
golden colour, muga is the finest of Indias wild silks. It is produced only in Assam.
The women of Assam weave fairy tales in their looms. Skill to weave was the
primary qualification of a young girl for her eligibility for marriage. This perhaps
explains why Assam has the largest concentration of Handlooms and weavers in India.
One of the worlds finest artistic traditions finds expression in their exquisitely woven
`Eri`, `Muga` and `Pat` fabrics.
The traditional handloom silks still hold their own in world markets. They score
over factory-made silks in the richness of their textures and designs, in their individuality,
character and classic beauty. No two hand woven silks are exactly alike. Personality of
the weaver, her hereditary skill, her innate senses of colour and balances all help to create
a unique product
Today, India exports a wide variety of silks to Western Europe and the United
States, especially as exclusive furnishing fabrics. Boutiques and fashion houses,
designers and interior decorators have the advantage of getting custom-woven fabrics in
the designs, weaves and colours of their choice. A service that ensures an exclusive
product not easily repeatable by competitors. The Tribal on the other hand have a wide
variety of colourful costumes, some of which have earned International repute through
the export market.
Every Assamese woman can weave cloths on the loom. Weaving is an intrinsic
part of the traditional village life. Weaving in Assam is so replete with artistic sensibility
and so intimately linked to folk life that Gandhiji, during his famous tour to promote
khadi and swadeshi, was so moved that he remarked: "Assamese women weave fairy
tales in their clothes!"
Traditionally men folk of plains wear mill- made dhuties and small or big sized
sola/fatua (shirt) and vest or eri-chaddar. In villages, rich men use headgear. They use
japi (hat) while working in paddy fields. The young boys use dhuti, genji only on some
occasions but they prefer using western dresses. The Assamese wear bare foot. The
Assamese ladies enter the kitchen bare foot. The Assamese young boys use on occasion`s
headgears with their gomacha, which they tie to their hip, especially when they are
dancing in Bihu to cover the waist with the dhuti. Some young men use Khaddar clothes.
Assamese women use riha-mekhela-Sadar. The long flowing skirt up to the ankles
is known as mekhela and the upper garment riha. The red coloured pattern at the end of
the riha is graceful and symbolic. Designs are also found in the pari (border) of mekhela
and riha. It is said that the dress of mehkela and the riha chaddar has been adopted from
the Tibetan and Burmese women. Some are of the opinion that the long back saree was
the dress of the Assamese women. The bride of lower Assam use saree in the marriage
ceremony. However, some Assamese ladies have started using saree at home and outside,
as it is cheaper than mekhela chaddar. Ladies of Goalpara, Gouripur, and Dhubri area
prefer sari for both outside and for home.
The Bodo ladies of Kokrajhar, Darrang, Sonitpur etc. use Dakhna, which is
different from Mehkela-riha-Sador. Generally, dakhna has yellow colour body with some
design in brown colour etc. ladies do not use headgear. Married women cover their head
with one end of the riha-sador and it is called orni or ghumta. The Hindu married ladies
put vermilion on their forehead and on the parting of combed hair and wear bangles made
of shell. Women wear mekhela covering waist and ankle. Riha cover the upper part. They
wear sador to cover the upper part and use blouse and bodice. Assamese Muslims also
use same dresses except vermilion.
Orissa is the only state that showcases Indias wealth in its splendid temples,
shrines, glistening golden beaches and crowing architecture, sculptures and other diverse
arts and crafts. Orissa, India is known for its ethnic and traditional handcrafted items, be
it clothes, rugs or decorative items. The Tourism industry gets a major boost because of
these art forms as people come from far and wide to simply watch these amazingly
skillful artisans at work while they create these handcrafted items. If one plans to visit
any hilly area in Orissa, then good woolen clothing is recommended in winters.
Odissi dance costume
Odissi is the traditional dance of Orissa. The costume is similar to that of
traditional Bharathanatyam costume. Light cottons in summer and light woolens in
winter.. Odissi dance attire like other Indian Classical dance has a stitched costume
(pyjama style) made out of the special Orissa handloom sarees. The sarees have their
special borders and intricate designs that sets them apart from other sarees. Earlier, there
were no stitched costumes but only the sarees used to be draped around. But over a
period of time, the stitched costume has been used more frequently because of its
Orissa is recognized in India for its handlooms, especially the Orissa saris (six
yard material draped around as clothing for Indian women). The saris usually have bright
eye-catching color combinations, such as the ones you see displayed in the titles, banners
and borders above, and different patterns, animals, etc repeated over the length of the
saris. The state is also known for the intricate silver filigree jewellery. In Odissi dance,
both the sari and jewellery are showcased in the attire.
Originally, the Orissa saris were draped around the dancers in a specific manner
for the costume. However, due to time constraints and for greater ease and neatness,
costumes are now stitched in that specific manner, so that the dancers could easily change
into different costumes during a program. In Orissa there are many different designs and
motifs woven in cotton and silk to create the distinctive saris of Orissa - Bomkai,
Teliarumaal, Sambalpuri which are cherished by women in India
Hand looms
Orissa is a thickly tribal inhabited state, consisting of sixty two tribes living in
different parts of the state - in the highlands, forests, valleys and in the foot hills. Each
tribal community has separate mode of living and they differ significantly in their dress.
To the tribals, dress is a cultural need and it is also a part of their tradition.
Among the tribals the use of dress is very significant and worthwhile. The tribals
do not use dress just merely to hide their nakedness rather it reflects the racial feeling and
their cultural identity. The tribals use separate costumes at the time of festivals and
ceremonies. In a specific tribe the dresses from birth to old age has immense variety.
The costumes of the male members of the tribe and the females are also different.
It is a fact that the female community pays more attention in covering their body. In some
tribal communities the women folk want their male partners to be dressed elegantly and
impressively. A tribal woman also wears a variety of dresses from her birth to death
corresponding to different stages of her life. For instance, a Dhangedi (a maiden) adorns
with fine clothes to attract the attention of others while the Gurumai, the priestess wears
formal clothes to worship the goddess for the betterment of her community. Dress also
helps them in many adversities and also helps to propitiate gods and goddesses who
safeguard them against the malevolent atrocities of the ghosts, spirits, etc.
The tribals also use dress according to the position of individual in the society like
the clan`s head, the priest, and the revenue collector etc. The dress that they use at the
time of marriage, birth, death, worship etc. are also different. They use dresses keeping in
view the occasion, age, sex and other factors.
Different tribal communities use different kind of dresses, differing in their colour
and size. Their dresses are designed keeping in view their necessity and their
surrounding. The socio-cultural and the religious views of the tribals slightly contribute
for the variety in their dresses. There are several tribes like the Bondo and Gadaba who
weave their own clothes. While the other tribes purchase their dress from another
community or the neighbouring Damas or Panas. These people manufacture the costumes
of a specific tribe and sell them in the weekly village market. Sometimes these weavers
are being paid in cash or in kind in the form of agricultural products
The tribal costumes are very simple and it provides immense comfort to the
wearer. Generally, in the Kandha community the Dongria Kandha, the Kutia Kandha and
the Desia Kandha, Lanjia Saora and the Santhals depend on other communities (nontribal artisans) for their clothes. Lanjia Saora and some other tribal community make
threads by themselves and give it to the Damas to weave for them. And again they
purchase that cloth from the Damas by cash or kind. While the Bondo and the Didayi, the
Gadabas weave their own clothes though the Dangrias purchase the cloth from the
neighbouring Damas. They knit fine needle work on it and use it.
The handloom sarees of Orissa can be broadly classified into four groups. They
are ikat, bomkai, bandha and pasapalli. The ikat sarees are made in deep colours like
blue, majenta, red, with ikat or tie and dye patterns on them. They are beautiful and eyecatching. Traditionally, the women of Orissa dress in sari with ikat patterns. These types
of sarees are made at Nuapatna, Sambalpur, Sonepur and Bargarh.
The paintings are done on tussar silk also. Sambalpur and Cuttacki sarees of
Orissa are famous across the country and the motifs printed on these sarees by the
process of tie and dye also make for unique aesthetic expressions of Orissa's
craftspersons. When at Orissa, you are sure to get floored by the bomkai sarees.
However, over the years, the bomkai sarees have undergone a vast change. Nowadays,
vegetable dyes are being replaced with chemical dyes. Bomkai sarees are marked by the
intricate embroidery works in the border and pallu.
Then there are heavy Berhampuri silks, with their plain narrow borders. The
pasapalli saris have black and white squares on them, which is the replica of chessboard.
Golden threads are used to enhance the pattern in the cotton and tussar silk saris. All
these sarees weave a culture of exclusivity and elegance into the costumes of Orissa.
The private enterprises and the weaving co-operatives are doing a flourishing business in
Orissa. The Sambalpuri is a well-known handloom society in Orissa.
The state of Orissa is also known for its silver filigree jewellery, which can make
for an elegant style statement in this age of loud fashions. Orissa has a sizeable
population of the tribals, and their colourful dresses and jewellery are also an integral part
of the costumes of Orissa. Wearing them can give you the feel of wearing a slice of
Orissa's primeval culture.
Bihar, the land that has inculcated traditional old values to the core, is noted for
its hand woven textiles in the field of costume. Particularly, the rustic crowd of Bihar
adheres to the traditional pattern of dresses and jewellery. Though most of the population
of the state still remains in rural areas the costumes worn by them are still traditional. The
clothes for the people of different religions are a bit divergent. The senior male citizens of
Bihar, irrespective of Hindu or Muslim, favour tradition, when it comes to costumes. If a
Hindu elderly person prefers Dhoti (an Indian loin cloth), a Muslim person might dress
himself in Lungi (a type of petticoat for men) or Pyjama (loose trousers). As an upper
garment, men usually go for Kurta (loose, normally cotton, Indian, T-shirts), and shirts.
However, the men resort to attractive apparels for ceremonies, festivals and social
gatherings. Kurtas, Churidar, Pyjamas and Sherwani are the ideal costumes, chosen for
such special occasions, where accurate attitude owes a lot to an impressive dressing style.
The Muslims, Sikhs, and Christian males are habituated in luxuriating in the
fragrance of perfumes and "attar" on an every day basis. It is interesting to note that men
of Bihar inhabit a penchant for ornaments. They decorate themselves with bala or bali
(bangles) in Shahabads, Kanausi in Patna and Gaya. Again Gowalas (the milkmen) flaunt
themselves in Kundals (earrings). However, malas or bead necklaces are on the rise these
days, than, the other ornaments.
The costume of the women folk of Bihar is chosen carefully in keeping with
tradition. As per tradition, married women, smear the hair- parting zone with powder of
Sindoor or vermillion. Tikli, a forehead-adorning little ornament is added to the hairpartitioning area. On the forehead, a Bihari married woman, be she an urban or a rural
one, usually applies bindi. A lot of Bihari women, love applying Kajal i.e. eye-pencil, or
antimony eye-make-up called Surma, to improve the appeal of their eyes. They also
indulge in flattering their senses with soothing aromatic oils that leave them perfumed,
and refreshed, in the mind and body. Tattoo-paintings are broadly prevalent among Bihari
women. They give detailed attention to their hands, and beautify them with Mehendidesigns (a kind of tattooing, done with colors fetched from herbal product like, amla or
Ornaments with elaborate designs and extravagant look, such as Chandrahar,
Tilri, Panchlari, Satlari, and Sikri are the common accessories, accompanying a woman in
Bihar. Indeed, the plethora of accessories, replicate upon the craze for jewellery and
ornaments. Women`s passions for jewellery are not restricted to necklaces only. They
buy and wear myriad ornaments for arms, wrists and fingers. The most popular are
bangles, rings, for hands and the anklets (worn around ankles).
Beauty-consciousness is an inherent characteristic of feminine nature. And in this
respect, even the tribal women of Bihar, are not lagging behind. Even the men participate
in these regular grooming-sessions. Tribal people, inclusive of both men and women,
wrap a thin strip of cloth round the waist. By rule, they maintain two pieces, of cloth, one
for home-use and the other for going out. Their men are accustomed to wearing Dhotis,
whereas women attire themselves in sarees.
Drawing tattoo on the forehead, arms and legs is very much in vogue among tribal
population. This is especially in harmony with their belief in magic. To sum up,
simplicity is the mantra which provides an aura of elegance to the costume of this tribal
elegance of Bihar. The costumes of Bihar, thus exhibit the richness, refinement and
immeasurable worth of a heritage that remains ever-glorious, even in the face of changing
There are many traditional dresses of Mizo women. The most favorite and
common among them is the Puan, which is very similar to a Churidar Kurta with three
pieces- a legging, top clothing and a head cloth which resembles dupattas. On the
occasion of weddings and other festivals, the Mizo women wear 'Puanchei'. It has many
varieties such as `Chapchar Kut`, `Mim Kut` and `Pawl Kut`. Puanchei has two partsstraight long skirt type clothing and a shirt or top that is worn above it. They are
traditionally bright in color with checkered patterns. The headdress, worn during dances,
is the most attractive feature of this Mizo Lusei dress. This headgear is made of a coronal
which is built from brass and colored cane. There are porcupine quills on this head dress
and upper edges of these quills are added with green wing-feathers of the common parrot.
Some very attractive blouses are also worn by the women of Mizoram such as Kawrchei
and Ngotekherh. They are usually worn along with `Puanchei` while performing various
Mizo dances.
The Mizoram men believe in simplicity, when it comes to deciding their
traditional costume. They drape themselves in an almost. 7 feet long and 5 feet wide
cloth-piece. It reaches the left shoulder to the back and then passes under the right arm, to
cover the chest, with the remaining end concealing the left shoulder.
In cold season, some additional attire is worn, one on top of the other, along with
a white coat, comes down from the throat enveloping till the thighs. White and red bands,
invested with designs adorn the sleeves of these coats. During the hot months, people tie
these clothes around the waist to feel comfortable. Moreover, at times to avoid the
blazing sun, a Lusei man contrives a piece of cloth as a turban or Pagri. The entire
costume of the Lusei men is made of cotton, cultivated in the region itself. Usually, the
costumes come in white colour, but sometimes men want to wear other shades, for
example, blue colour bestowed with stripes. There is hardly any difference existing in the
costumes of the ordinary Lusei and the head of the community. Only during festive
occasions, the costume is different.
The traditional costume of the Lusei women is the dark blue cotton petticoat,
worn round the waist and tightly held by a girdle or belt of brass wire. This is uniform,
worn by all women, stretches itself upto the knees. This petticoat is topped off by short
white jacket and a cloth, wrapped in the same way as the men`s. However, the
resplendent item in the Lusei girl`s costume is the headgear, worn during dances. This
headdress is composed of a coronal, built from brass and colored cane, endowed with
porcupine quills, and upper edges of these quills are added green wing-feathers of the
common parrot, carrying at their tips tussocks of wing covers of green beetles.
The original inhabitants of Sikkim are said to be Lepchas. They existed much
before the Bhutias and Nepalese migrated to the state. Before adopting Buddhism or
Christianity as their religion, the earliest Lepcha settlers were believers in the bone faith
or mune faith. This faith was basically based on spirits, good and bad. They worshipped
spirits of mountains, rivers and forests which was but natural for a tribe that co-existed so
harmoniously with the rich natural surroundings. The Lepcha (Zongu) folklore is rich
with stories. The Lepcha population is concentrated in the central part of the Sikkim.
This is the area that encompasses the confluence of Lachen and Lachung rivers and
Life in a Lepcha dwelling is very simple. The male Lepcha wears a dress called
a "pagi" made of cotton, which is stripped. The female Lepcha wear a two piece dress.
The Lepchas speak the language lepcha, although this language is not very well
developed but is rich in vocabulary related to the flora & fauna of Sikkim. Lepchas are
very good at archery. The polyandry marriages are permitted amongst the Lepchas.
These are the people of Tibetan origin. They migrated to Sikkim perhaps
somewhere after the fifteenth century through the state of Sikkim. In Northen Sikkim,
where they are the major inhabitants, they are known as the Lachenpas and
Lachungpas. The language spoken by the bhutias is sikkimese. Bhutia villages are as
large as those compared to those of Lepchas. A Bhutia house called "Khin" is usually of
rectangular shape.
The traditional dress of the male member is known as the "Bakhu" which is a
loose cloak type garment with full sleeves. The ladies dress consists of a silken "Honju"
which is a full sleeve blouse and a loose gown type garment. The ladies are very fond of
heavy jewelry made of pure gold.
The Nepalese appeared on the Sikkim scene much after the Lepchas & Bhutias.
They migrated in large numbers and soon became the dominant community. The
Nepalese now constitute more than 80 % of the total population. The Nepali settlers
introduced the terraced system of cultivation. Cardamom was an important cash crop
introduced by the Nepalis'. Except for the Sherpas & Tamangs who are Buddhists, the
Nepalis' are orthodox Hindus with the usual cast system.
The Nepali language is spoken and understood all over the state. This language
is similar to Hindi and uses the Devangri script. The traditional male nepali dress
consists of long double breast garment flowing below the waist and a trouser known as
"Daura Suruwal". The female dress consist of a double breasted garment with
strings to tie on both the sides at four places, which is shorter than the Daura and is
known as "Chow Bandi Choli". They also wear a shawl known as "Majetro". The
"Khukri" which has become a synonym to the Nepali (Gurkha) culture, is a very
sharp edged, angled, heavy weapon carried in a wooden or leather scabbard known as
The costumes of West Bengal reflect the state's rich cultural traditions. The
traditional costume of the women of West Bengal is saree, though salwar kameez and
western wears are also gaining in popularity. The women of West Bengal prefer to adorn
themselves with a variety of colourful sarees, which they wear in a characteristically
Bengali fashion. Both silk and cotton sarees are very much popular in West Bengal.
Among the silk sarees, Baluchari sarees have achieved a legendary reputation.
They are the products of wonderful craftsmanship of the weavers of West Bengal,
which endow the wearer with a seminal style statement. Daccai sarees are also quite
famous and popular both within and outside West Bengal. In fact, West Bengal has an
exquisite weaving tradition, which has given its sarees a unique appeal. Shantipur in
Nadia district, Begumpur in Hooghly district, Kenjekura in Bankura district are weavers'
The traditional costumes for the men of West Bengal are dhoti and panjabi. The
former is a lower garment, while the latter is an upper garment. Panjabi is similar to
kurtas that are worn in north India as upper garments. The dhoti and panjabi can be of
cotton as well as silk. However, very few Bengali men of this generation and even its
earlier generation wear dhoti and panjabi, except on formal occasions like weddings or
Durga Puja. In day-to-day usage, they prefer to wear western wear in work and leisure.
Besides handlooms, West Bengal is also known for its intricate needlework,
which even in this information age is practiced by the women of West Bengal in homes.
Colourful kanthas are the products of this painstaking but emotionally rewarding
embroidery and needlework. These multi-coloured patchwork quilts, stitched from often
discarded pieces of garments, are not only beautiful to look, but useful. They can serve as
bedspreads, as mirror-wraps or as plain quilts to ward away mild winters. Sometimes
these kanthas have illustrated artworks stitched on them, which adds to their aesthetic
Costumes of Nagaland mainly comprise shawls which are an extensively used
item of the state. The Nagas are classified into sixteen tribes speaking different dialects,
customs and traditional costumes. Among the men, the costume mainly consists of a
short wrap-around skirt and a feathered headdress. Naga women have different styles of
wearing a skirt, called mekhla, which vary with the respective tribes. For example, the
women of the Ao tribe wear a piece of cloth wrapped around their waists like a skirt with
a hand-woven top or blouse. In some cases, just a single piece of cloth is used to wrap the
body starting from the bosom and reaching up to the knees. The pattern mainly consists
of red and black stripes with small yellow motifs on the black stripes.
The traditional shawls are the most prominent as well as popular traditional
clothing of Nagaland. The women of Aos clan of Nagaland wear a skirt- one and a
quarter metre long. Around 2/3 of the skirt length is draped around the waist and the
outer edge is used for securing the dress. These skirts are of varied types and differ
according to villages and clans. Some of the popular types of Ao skirts include Azu
jangnup su- with red and yellow-black stripes; Ngami su- the fish tail skirt; and
Yongzujangau- the cucumber seed skirt which is woven in red threads on a black base.
The women of Angami clan mostly wear a plain blue cloth and a white cloth with black
marginal bands of varying breadth . They can also be seen in men`s garment. Casually,
these Angami women wear a petticoat called neikhro, a sleeveless top called vatchi, and a
white skirt called pfemhou. The vibrant colors and patterns are the distinctive
characteristics of the Naga women's clothing.
Tripura, the frontier hilly state of the North-East, is the land of skilled weavers,
gifted with proper know-how .The women of the local tribes, such as the Khakloo, the
Halam, the Lushei and the Kuki-Chin tribe , excel in the art of weaving, as is attested in
the diligent traditional costumes, which they diligently preserve.
The tribals prefer to wear clothes made by themselves. The texture of such clothes
is thick. The men wear turbans and a narrow piece of cloth as a lower garment. Most of
the time, the upper part of the body remains uncovered. However, they wear shirts when
they go out. The women wear along piece of cloth as the lower garment, which is known
as pachchra. They cover their breasts with a small piece of cloth called risha, which is
embroidered with various designs. Some of the tribals occasionally wear shoes. The tribal
men and women are casual in the matter of their hairdressing.
Young boys and girls present quite a different picture as far as the dress is
concerned. The boys prefer to wear shirts and pants. The girls feel shy of wearing the
risha, and prefer to wear the blouses, which they purchase, from the market. However
wearing risha in the marriages is still customary among many of the tribals.
The Khakloo are a small, little known tribe who claim agnative relationship with
the Purum Tipra- a dominant community that ruled the Tripura state for several centuries.
They make their own clothes. The cotton is grown in the jhoom. Women do spinning and
weaving only. It is forbidden for men to take any part in the operation, as it is feared that
any man who participates in spinning or weaving will be struck by lightning. Similarly,
there is a taboo on women in basket making: it is believed that if any women makes a
basket, the male will be idle and timid and as a result he will not be successful in hunting.
In dress, the Khakloo do not differ from their neighbours. The typical dress of the
Khakloo and their neighbours is simple but suitable for the hilly habitat. The infants are
hardly given clothes except when it becomes essential in the winter and rainy season. The
children put on a lion cloth. The working dress of an adult male is a napkin (rikutu
Gamcha), a self-woven shirt (Kubai). When the sun is very strong, a pagri (turban) is
sometimes used. In the winter, a wrapper is used.
The woman covers her lower part with a larger piece of cloth called Rinai. This
cloth is fastened round the waist and falls down to the knee. She covers her upper part
with a short piece of cloth. This is breast cloth called Risa passing under the arms and
drawn tight over the breasts. Women folk also are found to use some kind of headdresses
while at work outside. The necks of women are profusely decorated with strings of beads
and coins.
The women are no more addicted to fine clothes than their men-folk. All women
wear the same costume; a dark blue cotton cloth, just long enough to go round the
wearer’s waist with a slight over-lap, and held up by a girdle of brass wire or string,
serves as a petticoat which only reaches to the knee, the only other garment being a short
white jacket and a cloth which is worn in the same manner as the men. On gala days, the
only addition to the costume is a picturesque head- dress worn by girls while dancing.
This consists of a chaplet made of brass and coloured cane, into which are inserted
porcupine quills and to the upper ends of these are fixed the green wing-feathers of the
common parrot, tipped with tufts of red wool.
Kuki-Chin tribe
The clothes the Kuki women wove in the past had designs that were copied from
the skins of snakes. They were called by different names like Thangang, Saipi-khup,
Ponmongvom, and Khamtang. These clothes in the olden days were not allowed to be
woven by the commoners. Only the chief’s and the official’s families were allowed to
weave these clothes. It was also forbidden to put on these cloths while crossing a big
river. It was feared that the cloth might attract snakes to the weavers. The commoners
were called chaga. The word denoted the common folk excluding the chief and his
officers. In course of time, the priesthood came into vogue.
1. Write about the Traditional Costume of different States of India- Tamil
Nadu , Kerala , Andhra Pradesh ,Karnataka ,Assam, Orrisa, Bihar,
Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, W.Bengal, Sikkim
Traditional Costume of different States of India; Maharastra, Rajasthan, Haryana,
Himachal Pradesh, Uttarpradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1. COSTUMES OF MAHARASHTRA
For Men: Dhoti, Shirt With A headdress 'Pheta'
For Women: Sari & Choli or Blouse
In Maharashtra, men wear dhoti and shirt with a headdress known as the "Pheta",
and women wear sari with a short-sleeved 'Choli' (blouse). The sari is 9m long and is
worn tucked between the legs.
Attires for Men
The dhoti is a fine cotton cloth of about two and half to three metres long, with or
without borders on both the sides. The headdress is a folded cap of cotton, silk or woolen
fabric, or a freshly folded turban known as 'Rumal', 'Patka' or 'Pheta'. The pre-formed
turban known as "Pagadi" is now rarely to be seen. Sometimes a waistcoat or jacket
The Maratha Brahmans are very particular about the securing of their dhoti,
which always had to have five tucks, three into the waistband at the two sides and in
front, while the loose end is tucked in front and behind. Once Nagpur hand-made dhotis
Among the urbanite young men the use of dhoti is practically getting extinct; it is
in some evidence among the middle-aged. The 'Sendhi' or scalplock is long discarded and
they cut their hair short in imitation of the European.
Attires for Women
Maharashtrian women wear the Maratha 'Sadi' (saree) of nine yards and a shortsleeved 'Choli' (blouse) covering only about half the length of the back. The nine yards
Sadi is generally worn by elderly ladies and is known as "Lugade" or Sadi in Marathi.
It is forty-five to forty-two inches in width and it has two lengthwise borders
'Kanth' or 'Kinar', and also two 'Breadthwise' borders, 'Padar', at the two ends, of which
one is more decorated than the other. The mode of wearing the Lugade by Maratha
Brahmans and other classes is with the hind pleats tucked into the waist at the backcentre and the decorated end (padar) thrown over the left shoulder. Maratha ladies allow
it to hang form the waist down straight and round like a skirt and draw its end, which
Sadis of five or six yards in length have now become fashionable among young
ladies in the urban centres. These are worn cylindrically over a "Parkar" or "Ghagara"
also called petticoat. The old fashioned Choli is also discarded by them, and the use of
blouses, polkas, and jumpers has become quite common. A reversion to new type of
Cholis in the form of blouses with low cut necks and close-fitting sleeves up to the elbow
Women living in cities have become more westernised and working women
these days wear 'Chudidars', pants, and skirts, which are more comfortable. With
Bollywood in Mumbai, the city is the center of fashion and one can find the latest designs
over here.
Costumes Worn On Festive Occasions
Though there is no special holiday dress on festivals or on days of family
rejoicing, all who can afford it put on richer and better clothes than those ordinarily worn.
For ceremonial occasions men prefer to dress after Indian style in a spacious looking long
coat, called "Ackan", and "Chudidar Pyjama" or "Survar" slightly gathered at the anklesend with bracelet-like horizontal folds. A folded woolen or a silk cap and "Cadhav" or
pump-shoes perfects the ensemble.
Foot Wear
Shoes are usually worn in the heat and cotton-growing areas, but are less
common in the rice area, where they would continually stick in the mud in the field.
Women go bare-footed, but sometimes have sandals.
In towns and cities boots and shoes made in the European fashion have now been
generally adopted and with these socks are worn, but their use is confined to small
number of highly paid government servants, pleaders, young merchants etc. For the use
of the common people sandals and "Chappals" of various patterns are used, and the
Kolhapuri Chappals manufactured in Kolhapur and its surrounding towns and villages are
famous worldwide.
Maharashtrian women wear traditional jewellery patterns of the Marathas and
Peshwas. The Kolhapuri 'Saaj', a special type of necklace is very popular with
Maharashtrian Women. The saaj is designed in all over Maharashtra but the Kolhapuri
Saaj is famous.
'Patlya' (two broad bangles), 'Bangdya' (four simple bangles) and 'Tode' (two
finely carved thick bangles) are the typical jewellery on the hands of women from this
western state. The Maharashtrians are fond of pearls too. 'Chinchpeti' (choker), 'Tanmani'
(short necklace) and 'Nath' (nose ring) are a combination of pearls and red and white
stones. The 'Bajuband' (the amulet) is also a favourite. Flower-shaped earrings are a clear
preference with the people here.
Costumes of Rajasthan are extremely bright, colourful and elegant. The
beautifully designed and vibrantly coloured clothes lend cheerfulness to the dull-coloured
monotone of the sands and hills. Interesting costumes and jewellery of these desert
people are not mere ornaments for them. Everything from head-to-toe including the
turbans, clothes, jewellery and even the footwear establish the identity, religion, and the
economic and social status of the population of Rajasthan. The clothes worn by the
people of Rajasthani people have been designed keeping in mind the climate and
conditions in which they live.
Costume worn by Rajasthani Men
The pagari (turban), angarkha, dhoti, pyjamas, Cummerbund or patka (waistband)
form an integral part of a Rajasthani male`s attire.
There is a proverb in Rajasthan which goes so, `a raga in music, taste in food and
knots in a pagari are rare accomplishments.` The turban is significant of many important
things. The style of the turban, its colour and the way in which it is wound is of special
significance to the people of Rajasthan as it is symbolic of the caste and region to which a
person belongs. Turbans of Rajasthan, also known as pagaris, come in many different
shapes, sizes and colours. Moreover, there are specific turbans for specific occasions as
well. The people of Udaipur are accustomed to wearing a flat pagari, while pagaris of the
people of Jaipur are angular. The safa from worn by the men of Jodhpur has the
distinction of having slightly curved bands. In Rajasthan about 1000 different types of
pagaris can be found. A common pagari is usually 82 feet long and 8 inches wide. A
`safa` is shorter and broader. Whereas the common man in Rajasthan wears a turban of
one colour only, the men from rich families wear designs and colours which are suited to
the occasion.
Angarkha, which can be loosely translated as body protector, is a garment which
is mostly made of cotton. When there occasions of celebration and festivities in the
region, people can be seen wearing printed angarkhas or those which have been subject to
the popular tie and dye method. The two principal kinds of angarkhas which are common
to Rajasthan are kamari angarkha and the long angarkha. The former type styled like a
frock and reaches till the waist. The latter is longer and goes beyond the knees.
Dhotis or pyjamas
Dhotis or pyjamas are used to cover the lower part of the body. The dhoti is a
piece of cloth which measures 4m by 1m and requires quite a bit of practice to be worn
properly. Ateh commonly worn dhotis are white in colour. However on special occasions
people also wear silk dhotis with a border of zari.
Patka was a garment worn by people of upper classes and royal families. It is a
cotton cloth which measures about 1.5 metres by 1 metre. It was traditionally kept on the
shoulders or worn around the waist to tuck in the weapons during medieaval times.
However it is no longer in use and has become out of date, though one can still see
Brahmins who wear traditional dupattas on their shoulders.
With changing times, the traditional style of dressing has also undergone a
change. The Rajasthani man is often seen to dress in the urban garb of trousers and a
shirt, or, sometimes, in an attractive combination of both urban and traditional garments
teamed together. They provide comfort and utility, while preserving the cultural identity
as well. Synthetic fabrics that are easily available, durable and require little maintenance,
have been slowly replacing cotton as the favoured choice of the consumer. Also
mechanisation in the manufacture of textiles, jewellery, dyes and sewing techniques have
enhanced this transformation of Rajasthani costumes.
Costume worn by Rajasthani Women
The Rajasthani female`s attire includes Ghaghra (long skirt), kurti or choli (tops
and blouses respectively) and odhna. Most of the Rajasthani women wear the ghagra
which is a long skirt that reaches up to the ankle. It has a narrow waist which increases in
width and flares towards the base. The skirt is usually not folded at the lower end like
normal skirts but a broad, coloured fabric known as `sinjaf` is sewn below to make it
stronger. The width and the number of pleats in the `Ghaghra`, are said to symbolise the
wealth of a person. The ghagra comes in many colours and styles. The ghagras which are
most popular among Rajasthani women are those which are cotton ones which are
coloured or printed with mothra, chunari and laharia prints. Much like the pagaris of the
men folk.
The Odhni is a specialty of Rajasthani costume. It is a piece of cloth which is
about10 feet long and 5 feet wide. One corner of the Odhni is tucked in the skirt while the
other end is taken over the head and right shoulder. The colours and motifs which are
found on the Odhnis are particular to caste, type of costume and occasion. Both Hindu
and Muslims women wear `odhnis`. An `odhni` with a yellow background and a central
lotus motif in red called a `pila` is a traditional gift of parent to their daughter on the birth
of a son.
Today, the traditional costume of the Rajasthani women is almost in a state of
transition. The women are opting for new fabrics, designs and accessories. This transition
of Rajasthani costumes now becomes more apparent among the affluent, the educated
and those who, through their work or otherwise, have gained exposure to a range of other
external influences.
Costumes of Royalty in Rajasthan
Royal costumes in Rajasthan reflect the regal taste of the state. The rich and
luxurious dresses that were created for the royalty were made under the careful attention
of special departments that were in charge of royal costume. The `Ranghkhana` and the
`Chhapakhana` were departments that took care of dyeing and printing the fabrics
respectively. The `siwankhana` ensured faultless and clear tailoring. There were two
special sections, namely the `toshakhanand` and the `kapaddwadra`, that took care of the
daily wear and formal costumes of the king. The Rajput kings were quite close to the
Mughal court. Cosequently they dressed up in their most colourful and formal best.
Richly brocaded material from Banaras and Gujarat, embroidered and woven Kashmiri
shawls and delicate cottons from Chanderi and Dhaka were procured at great cost to
make the various outfits of the Kings and nobility of Rajasthan.
The changes ushered in by modernisation were felt even in the changing costumes
of the Rajasthani people. The popular culture that prevails in Rajasthan, the influence of
television, cinema, magazines, newspapers and most importantly migration and
urbanization have contributed to the modifications in traditional costume. However,
traditional garments are still extensively worn in Rajasthan even today and the change
has merged harmoniously with tradition, maintaining the spirit of Rajasthani dress.
'Mojaris' or 'jootis' (leather shoes made up of camel, goat or sheep skin) are worn
by both males and females. Though camel leather is very soft and is only suitable to be
worn inside the house, the shoes made up of goatskins and sheepskins are stronger and
can be worn outside. Shoes are pepped up with intricate embroidery done on velvet or
brocade, which is pasted on the outer part of the shoes. Jootis of Jaisalmeler, Jodhpur,
Ramjipura and Jobre are especially famous all over the world.
Rajasthani jewellery has a distinctive style. Precious stones, diamonds and
emeralds were not only used in ornaments but can also be seen in the hilts of daggers of
kings and nobles, which are on display in the various museums. An earring or a pair of
studs is common among men along with a gold chain or string of pearls (usually worn by
the rich) or even silver 'hansli' (a variation of a thick bracelet worn around the neck
Tribal women of Gayari, Mina and Bhil are not far behind. Once they used to
wear only brass ornaments made by Bharawas and it was customary for the bridegroom
to give 25 kg of jewellery as a dowry. But times have changed and even these women
have started using silver or white metal jewellery. There are other communities like
Rabaris of Sirohi region and Raikas of Jodhpur region who wear heavy silver jewellery
and often use inexpensive glass pieces to decorate them with. One can see captivating
designs based on sun, moon, flowers, seeds and leaves on their jewellery. Besides the
metal jewellery, Lac jewellery studded with glass pieces can also be commonly seen in
Rajasthan. To the south of Rajasthan, one can see women wearing bangles that are made
up of coconut shell with
a silver strip set in
a groove in the centre.
The vibrancy of the people of Haryana finds expression in their lifestyle too.
Their simplicity and spirited enthusiasm for life is evident in their way of dressing up.
The women of the region have a special attraction towards colours.
The dress of the people is generally simple. It consists of a dhoti, shirt, turban and
a pair of shoes. A blanket or chaddar serves as wrapper. The men generally wear 'Dhoti',
the wrap around cloth, tucked in between the legs with a white-coloured kurta worn atop
it. 'Pagri' is the traditional headgear for men, which is now worn mainly by the old
villagers. All-white attire is a status symbol for men.
Women love to wear colourful dresses. Their basic trousseau includes 'Damaan',
'Kurti' & 'Chunder'. 'Chunder' is the long, coloured piece of cloth, decorated with shiny
laces, meant to cover the head and is drawn in the front like the 'pallav' of the saree. Kurti
is a shirt like blouse, usually white in colour. The 'Daaman' is the flairy ankle-long skirt,
in striking colours.
The turban has a different style for a Jat, an Ahir, a Rajput, a Bania or a Brahman.
There is also difference in the dress of various communities particularly among women.
A Jat woman's full dress, thel, consist of ghaggri, shirt and a printed orhni (a length of
cloth draped over the front and shoulders) the ghaggri seldom falling below the calves.
The Ahir woman can always be recognized by her lehenga or peticoat, angia (a tight
blouse) and orhni. Her orhni is broader than that of Jat women. She employs it also to
cover her abdomen. It is usually red or yellow, decorated with bosses and fringes, with a
fall. The Rajput woman's dress is similar to that of an Ahir woman. Their orhni may be
plain white with silver fringe but without a fall. The dhotis and saris are the favourite
items of dress among Brahmans and Aggarwal women.
A woman would need at least three different sets of clothes, one for working at
the grindstone, another for the field, another for drawing water from the well. Clothes
indicate family status.
Coloured clothes are worn by the Hindus at weddings. The marriage party colour
their duppatas only and the bridegroom his turban. A duppata or overcloth, kamiz or
skirt, pajamas, salwar or ghagra with differences in make and colour is generally the
female dress. Among the educated classes in the villages women are taking to saris of
different colours. The dresses worn by women display more variety than male attires. The
dress also proclaims the caste or community of the woman. A Gujjar woman can be
known at once from the blue clothes and a Chamar from her red clothes. Round bits of
glass are adorned by the clothes of Gujjar women. Unmarried girls abstain from gaudy
dress to avoid undue attention.
In Haryana people of all communities were fond of ornaments. The common
ornaments were small ear rings of gold or silver, necklaces called Kathla by Jats, and
mala by Banias, bracelets and gold chains of several strings were worn on special
occasions like marriages and only richer people could afford them.
The ornaments are usually made of gold and silver. The main items include haar
(necklace), hansli (heavy bangles) made of silver, jhalra (long hanging string of gold
mohars or silver rupees) Karanphul and bujni of gold and dandle of silver for the ears.
The finger-rings plain and ornamented have different names. The large nose-ring is called
nath. Other ornaments are Kari (anklet), Chhailkara neori and pati all worn on the legs by
Ahir and Jat women but not by the Rajput women. Some new types of ornaments are tops
(balian) for the ears, churis for the wrists and pandels for the neck.
The costumes of Himachal Pradesh are colourful and diverse and they differ from
region to region, community to community, as well as from tribes to tribes. Each
community in the state has its own costumes that are based on its customs and traditions.
Again the costumes of each community are different, be it the Hindu Brahmins, the
Rajputs, and the tribal people like Gaddis, Kinnars, Gujjars, Pangawals and Lahaulis.
The priests of Himachal Pradesh mostly wear dhoti, kurta, a turban, a coat or a
waist coat, and a small towel that is placed on the shoulders. The Brahmin priests also
carry an Indian astrological yearbook, which is known as the Panchang. Based on these
books the priest makes his astrological speculations.
The Rajputs, mostly descendants of royal families, generally adorn themselves
with a long and body fit churidar payjama, a starched turban, a long coat and unique
shoes with pointed edges. The turban is stiffened with the help of starch and is worn with
a unique shape. The turban is thought of as a matter of honour for the Rajputs. During the
olden days the Rajputs used to stick to the traditional veil for their women. All the
women of the Rajput community had to venture outside in palanquins, which were
heavily curtained.
The costume of the women hailing from the Brahmin and the Rajput clans are
quite traditional. These women normally dress themselves in kurtas (shirt-like oriental
blouse), salwars, ghaghri (Indian long skirts), choli (blouses or tops with intricate
embroidery) and rahide (nice crimson headscarves decked with golden fringes).The
farmers and worker classes required to toil, go for kurta, a loincloth and a cap. They cater
to long pyjamas, for attending ceremonies, like marriage ceremonies or special occasions,
such as festival.
However, there has been a visible change among the younger generation with
more and more of them opting for westernised clothes. The most unique identity of the
people in Himachal Pradesh is the hand-woven costumes, which are crafted with
excellent finesse. The scarves that the women wear on their heads are very popular and
make significant style statements. The specially made shoes, which are made from dried
grass, are the best to keep their feet warm during the cold climate. Costumes of Himachal
Pradesh are mostly woven by hand and the handlooms are very popular throughout the
state. The difference in style and the quality of Kurtas, saris and gowns woven by
indigenous weavers, serve as the insignia of Himachal handlooms.
Due to the cold and at times harshly cold climatic conditions, shawls are also very
popular among the local people as well as the tourists. The people from Himachal
Pradesh are renowned for their shawls. The shawls from Himachal Pradesh are very
popular for their smooth texture, quality and finesse, and are the most stylist expressions
of the costumes of Himachal Pradesh.
The Himachal crafts persons are extremely skilled in handicrafts and hence create
masterpieces of art. These people, with their excellent skills, make for some of the best
weavers in the world. The Himachali people are excellent at creating many beautiful art
works and patterns, which is a must buy for any costume lover tourist. The beauty and
smoothness of the Pashmina shawls and the soothing experience that comes from wearing
it can only be felt. Manufactured from the hair of a type of goat also called Pashmina,
these shawls are renowned across the globe.
Uttar Pradesh has had a long history of getting exposed to various cultures and
traditions, which has helped the state to evolve a pluralistic heritage that is manifested
through costumes, cuisines, handicrafts, dances and music among many other things.
Over centuries, a wide variety of cultures and traditions, crafts and costumes, arts and
cuisines has evolved in this state that has long been the cultural seat of India.
As far as costumes of Uttar Pradesh are concerned, sarees are still popular
among its women at large. In fact, sarees and salwar-kameej are generally worn by
women all over India, and are the traditional dresses of the country. The saree, a six
metre cloth worn with a matching stitched-blouse piece is the standard dress, which
women prefer all over the country. Benarasi sarees are an exquisite creation and are
generally worn in east India in formal occasions like marriages. Salwars, a long skirt
reaching below the knees, along with pyjamas or lungis, is also a common costume in the
state, and also all over the country.
However, nowadays, with continual pressure of globalization, western clothing
has come to dominate the fashion of the Indian society, and UP is no exception. Where
costume is concerned, in this day and age, the modern men of UP prefers to wear western
clothing - shirts and trousers- and the trendy women don shirts and skirts and even shirts
and trousers. However, in the villages of UP, the men usually wear kurtas, which are long
and loose shirts. Or they wear half shirts known as gangis, and a dhoti as the lower
garment, a scarf known as angauccha, and a cap or even a turban. Women wear loose
blouses and sarees. They even wear lehengas, which is a long skirt of sorts, and a long
scarf known as orhni, which is used to cover their head and the torso.
The male among the Muslim population of Uttar Pradesh prefer the kurta or a
shirt as the upper garment, complemented by a lungi or pyjama as the lower garment.
Sometimes, the kurta is substituted by a sherwani, a long coat worn in formal occasions.
Additionally, they wear a cap or a turban. Muslim women wear pyjamas, kurtas and
The costume unique to north Indian women in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and
Haryana is the ghagra choli. It is one of the most attractive costumes of Uttar Pradesh
and also in the major parts of north India; decorated with glittering mirrors. The ghagra is
a long pleated skirt, very intricately decorated with handwork. It is worn with a matching
blouse. The dress is designed to leave the back and the midriff bare, thereby contributing
to the sensual appeal.
Jewellery plays a considerable part in the costumes of Uttar Pradesh. Gold
chains, necklaces, bracelets, bangles, rings, earrings, anklets and tiaras, with or without
diamonds and other precious stones, silver and platinum jewellery, are popular across the
state. Most jewellery is worn by women. Men prefer rings and thin necklaces of gold or
platinum. There are many shops in Uttar Pradesh selling jewellery. Jewellery with
ghagra-cholis adds a unique richness in dressing.
Costumes of KashmirCostumes of Jammu and Kashmir reflect the richness of the
culture and landscape of the region. It has been historically seen that the early Aryan
descendants who lived in this region, interacted with various prosperous civilizations like
the famous Greeks, the Romans and the Persians. Such influences of its cultural ethos and
tradition coupled with the climatic factors find a reflection in the attires of its people.
Most of the garments are made of wool, silk with intricate embroideries and cotton. In
these mountainous regions, the traditional `pheran` is the most popular form of dressing
among both men and women. The pheran has a lot of beautiful embroidery work done on
it and is decorated with floral motifs and designs.
Costumes worn by Kashmiri men
The pheran is the most commonly worn garment among men. Hindu men usually
wear churidars while the Muslim men are dressed in salwars beneath the formidable
pherans. The pheran is a loosely fitted woollen garment which makes use of the `kangri`.
The kangri is an earthen vessel which is filled with flaming coal. It is then placed within a
container made of natural fibre. The kangri is usually placed in the front, skillfully
shrouded by the pheran. It functions as an internal heating system in order to keep the
wearer warm during the extreme cold winters.
The `pathani` suit, also referred to as `Khan-dress`, is a popular garb among the
men, especially in Srinagar. Turbans are common among Muslim men. Skull caps are
extremely prevalent, especially among the peasants and the `karakuli` or fur skull caps
along with the Pashmina shawls worn by men often symbolize royal lineage. The
Pashmina shawls are made from traditional woollen textiles which are obtained from
mountain goat. Intricate work is done on both sides of these shawls. The special Kashmiri
embroidery work, Kasida, is done in such a manner that the patterns appear in a uniform
manner on both sides of the fabric. The Pashmina belts and `kamarbands" are common
too. The Muslim men wear lace-free shoes known as Gurgabis. Brocade, camel hair and
cashmere are the main elements that are used in the making of coats and fleece for men.
Costumes worn by Kashmiri women
The pheran is the prominent attire for Kashmiri women as well. Traditionally,
there are the `poots` and the pheran, comprising two robes placed atop the other. The
pheran worn by women usually has zari embroidery on the hem line, around pockets and
mostly on the collar area. The pherans worn by the Muslim women are traditionally
characterized by their broad sleeves and reach up to the knees. However, the Hindus of
Jammu and Kashmir wear their pherans long, stretching up to their feet with narrowed
down sleeves. Often, the pherans are wrapped tightly by a piece of creased cloth called
`lhungi`. The Hindu women wear a headdress called the `taranga`, stitched to a
suspended cap and it narrows down at the back, towards the heels. The taranga is an
integral part of the wedding attire among Hindus.
Elaborate zari embroideries or floral patterns around the neck and the pockets are
a prominent feature of a Muslim woman`s pheran. Brocade patterns adorn their long
The pheran is accompanied by red headgears known as the `kasaba`. The kasaba
is stitched in the form of a turban and is pinned together by ornaments and silver
brooches. A pin-scarf suspended from the kasaba descends towards the shoulder. It is
worn by the Muslim women as a part of their regular attire. The `abaya` is also
commonly worn by them. For unmarried Muslim women, the costumes vary to some
extent. The elaborate headgears are replaced by exquisitely ornate skull caps embellished
with threads of gold, talismans and gems.
Accessories worn by Kashmiri women
The intricate patterns of a woman`s costumes in Jammu and Kashmir are further
enhanced by the use of various accessories. Earrings, anklets and bangles are widely used
apart from the use of ornamentation in clothing. Silver jewellery is popular among the
Muslim women and they adorn themselves with neckpieces, bracelets and heavily
bejeweled chains. `Dejharoos` or golden pendants are worn by the Hindu women. These
dejharoos comprise two decorative gold pendants which are suspended through gold
chains or silk threads. It is symbolic of a woman`s married status among the Kashmiri
Costumes worn by ethnic groups of Kashmir
The Jammu and Kashmir landscape is dotted with various ethnic groups. The
Dogras are tribes residing amidst the hilly topography of Jammu. The Dogra womenfolk
are found attired in fitted pajamas and tunics accessorized with a suitable headdress.
Similar fitted pajamas and kurtas of considerable length constitute the costume of the
Dogra men. The use of kamarbands and turban are prominent among the Dogra elders.
The Gujjars, also residents of Jammu, are the second-largest group of ethnic tribes
inhabiting in Kashmir. The members of this tribe are mostly shepherds. The Gujjar
women are dressed in loose sleeved tunics coupled with baggy salwars. They cover their
head by an elaborate headgear, akin to the ones worn by the women in Turkish villages.
The costumes of the inhabitants of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir
deserve special mention because of their extraordinary variety. `Kuntops` are woolen
gowns worn by women. It is accompanied by a `bok`, a brightly decorated shawl that can
aid in carrying packages and even children. The men wear `Goucha`, a woollen robe
made of sheep skin fixed at the neck. It is wound at the waist by a bright sash called
`Skerag`. It extends to about 2 metres in length and 20 cm in breadth. The Skerag serves
as an enclosure for the Ladakhi men to carry their bare essentials. Men in Ladakh wear
velvet multihued caps while the women adorn turquoise colored hats named `Perak`.
According to tradition, upon a woman`s demise, the perak is handed down to her eldest
child. In Ladakh, footwear made of Yak skin and wool is known as `Papu`.
It has been seen that over the years, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have
adopted the dressing style and habits of the west as well as those of other regional Indian
cultures. This is noticed primarily among the men have appropriated the western attire to
a great extent. The sari is more popular among the Hindu women after the 1930s Reform
Movement. However, despite these influences, the traditional pheran continues to remain
the symbol of the culture and couture of Jammu and Kashmir.
Gujarat is land of diverse cultures and a large number of folk dances exist here.
For precisely this reason, Gujarat has a lot of costumes, which are relevant for various
occasions. Many of the costumes of Gujarat are specially designed for each occasion
and are heavily embroidered.
Navaratri is the most famous and the most liked festival in Gujarat. It is also a
very colourful festival. During the dance of Navratri, traditionally men wear kedia and
women wear ghaghra cholee. Kedia comes with tight sleeves and pleated frills at the
waist. Gauri Puja, Nag Panchami, Janmashthami, and Ganesh Chaturthi are other
important festivals of the state. Most of the festivals of Gujarat are celebrated by women,
and they provide the perfect opportunity for them to showcase the colourful costumes of
Generally the men in Gujarat wear dhoti, along with a long or a short coat and
turban. But nowadays, the pants are becoming common instead of dhoti. Men of
sawarashtra wore dhoti with front pleats formed by the portion of the left side and the
lower portion of the right side tucked at the back. The dhoti was called kaccha. But the
men of Brahmin community were dhoti in a different manner. They picked up the lower
edge of pleats and tucked them at the waist so that no loose pleats were formed. This
form of dhoti was called dhotia, dhotara and potiya. A short double breasted jacket
fastened on left side and tight fitting up to the waist, called chaubhandi was also known
as bodiyan, or badar. On ceremonial occasions, they wore a long coat called Jama or
Angrakha or vago or vagho. They carried a piece of fabric folded and drapped over the
shoulder known as dupatta, pachedi, angvastra, upvastra or upvami. Head dress consisted
of performed turban known as sopha or pheto.
The main dresses for women in Gujarat are sari and blouse, ghaghra was worn as
undergarment. Ghagra even being an undergarment is richly embroided and is called
caniyo or carino. They have a particular style of wearing these sarees. The sari was worn
in two different styles:
Sari was tucked in at the left side, carried through waist from back and brought to
the front over the right hip, formed into a few pleats and these pleats were tucked in the
carino. This manner was called oti. Remaining part of the sari was carried backward and
then to cover the head and brought to the front right shoulder or tucked on left side of
waist. The portion of the sari hanging back is called phadek or sodia and the portion
covering the head head is called lagger or ghunghat.
The upper part of the body was covered with backless choli called kaeli. Some
older women were front fastening choli. This was usually worn by tying up in front two
lapels. Sari worn by Gujarat women had a border, which is called chora leka or gotha.
The common term used for cotton saris was lagadu. Silken sari were of three types- one,
red silk with silver or golden border and small motifs all over the field, called Paithan
sari. Second, white silk with red circular tie and dye motifs (or vice versa), called ghar
charo sari. And third, any colour silk with black and white border called ghatapoda.
The conventional dress code for the Parsi women in Gujarat is very similar to that
worn by the Hindu women. The only difference between the Parsi dresses and the Hindu
dresses is that the Parsi women wear long sleeved blouses and a scarf on the head.
However, the trend of wearing salwar kameez among the Gujarati women is also catching
up fast. The western attire is also becoming fast fashionable among the younger
generation of Gujarat in great numbers.
Gujarati women are also fond of bindi, and they are preferred by both married and
unmarried women. Generally, the colour of the bindi matches the colour of the outfits
worn. Married Gujarati women wear red bindi on their forhead. Mangal sutra is also
adorned by most married Gujarati ladies, as are necklaces, earring and bangles. During
marriage ceremonies, Gujarati women are fond of wearing their jewelry, and the bride
gets virtually bedecked in jewelry. Among the Hindu Gujarati males, wearing a gold
chain or a ring is fairly common. Traditional men folk of Gujarat also wear embroidered
caps and colorful turbans.
Madhya Pradesh costumes exhibit diversity in various aspects. Handicrafts and
distinct textile techniques have given rise to a rich variety of costumes of Madhya
Pradesh. The various techniques and patterns of cloth include tie and dye, batik and
weaving. Threads are tied, dipped in multi-coloured dyes and tied on cloth to make
various imprintations. This resultant printed cloth is called bandhani, which is quite
famous all over India.
Bandhani (locally called Bandhej) cloth is produced on a large scale in
Maundsar, Indore and Ujjain. The fabric is painted with molten wax and is dyed with
cold dyes to produce a cloth type called Batik. Contrast patterns on Batik cloth are quite
famous. The delicate Chanderi and Maheshwari sarees produced in Madhya Pradesh are
hand-woven, and they are quite famous all over India.
Costumes in urban Madhya Pradesh are quite like the costumes all over the
urban India. They include sarees, shirts, pants, salwar suits, etc. The peasant population
wears dhoti made from cotton or other light garments. The headgear here includes Safa,
worn in the eastern part of the state, and Pagri is being worn in the western part. A piece
of cloth known as Orni or Lugra is used to cover the head and the shoulders.
The majority of the people of Madhya Pradesh attest Dhoti as their traditional
costume. Safa, a kind of turban, is the headgear, which is the common feature of Madhya
Pradesh`s costume. Furthermore, a white or black jacket called Bandi or Mirzai, is a part
of the men`s attire, specifically in Bundelkhand and Malwa. The myriad colours of this
traditional costume of the men of Madhya Pradesh, gives the men a radiant and dignified
appearance. The womenfolk of Madhya Pradesh dress themselves in Lehenga (long
Indian skirt) and Choli (Indian blouse).Another additional strip of cloth called Orni or
Lugra is draped around the head and shoulders, to retain a decent and sober look. Red and
black, are the favourite shades for this feminine costume.
Tribal people, for presenting themselves in public wear short-sized Dhotis, but in
the remote ambience of the forests they feel cozy in minimal garment, called langot. The
children, or the school-going group of Madhya Pradesh, have uniforms, very similar to
the student`s costume of other states. Boys visit school in short-pants and shirts; whereas,
girls, cover themselves in ghaghri, a kind of Indian skirt, or in Western frock. It is
definite that a costume is incomplete without shoes, which are a necessity and no more a
luxury. The villagers of Madhya Pradesh wear raw-leather shoes, made by the villagecobbler. These shoes are tough and lasting in order to endure the immense toil of he
primarily agricultural rustic people of Madhya Pradesh.
Ornaments are a natural accompaniment to Indian costumes, and that of Madhya
Pradesh, is no exception to this rule. The tribal women of this state augment their beauty
in silver or Kathir ornaments. Their treasure-chest incorporates Kadas (bracelets) and
Kangni (bangles) on hand and Hansli and Haar (necklace). Aluminium or silver bracelets
decorate the wrist and armbands, the upper-arm. Bali or little ear-studs, Zele on the
forehead, silver Kandora on the waist-line, payal (anklet) and Bichhudi on the toes, gives
the tribal woman a gorgeous look. The accessories of the refined and educated elite
women have a different charm. They go for similar types of ornaments, but they have the
affordability to indulge in the delight of gold. Young girls, hanker for silver or aluminummade Pyjeb to embellish their feet. Their necks are adorned with sleek silver or golden
chain, bearing often, attractive pendant or locket. Semi-precious or today`s imitation
jewelry are quite popular among the young generation of girls.
Tattoo painting is an important constituent of the costume-pattern of Madhya
Pradesh. In tribal-crowded zones like Bhil, Bhilala, Banjara, Meghwal, Charan, Kahar
and Kumhar, the tribes, who are by profession potter, engage in a lot of captivating
tattooing. Particularly, the women of these tribal sects prefer drawing on their arms
tattoos of flower, self-name or picture of a god, an ox, i.e. subjects from the wide range of
the flora and the fauna encircling them.
Indian Jewellery – jewelleries used in the period of Indus valley civilization ,Mauryan
period , Gupta Period , the Pallava and Chola Period ,Symbolic Jewellery of South India,
Mughal period. Temple Jewellery of South India,Tribal jewellery
A brief study of gems and precious stones.
A selection of gemstone pebbles made by tumbling rough rock with abrasive grit,
in a rotating drum. The biggest pebble here is 40 mm long (1.6 inches).
A gemstone or gem (also called a precious or semi-precious stone, or jewel) is a
piece of attractive mineral, which—when cut and polished—is used to make jewelry or
other adornments. However certain rocks, (such as lapis lazuli) and organic materials
(such as amber or jet) are not minerals, but are still used for jewelry, and are therefore
often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft
minerals are used in jewelry because of their luster or other physical properties that have
aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a gemstone. Apart from
jewelry, from earliest antiquity until the 19th century engraved gems and hard stone
carvings such as cups were major luxury art forms; the carvings of Carl Fabergé were the
last significant works in this tradition.
Characteristics and classification
Spanish emerald and gold pendant at Victoria and Albert Museum.
The traditional classification in the West, which goes back to the Ancient Greeks,
begins with a distinction between precious and semi-precious stones; similar
distinctions are made in other cultures. In modern usage the precious stones are diamond,
ruby, sapphire and emerald, with all other gemstones being semi-precious. This
distinction is unscientific and reflects the rarity of the respective stones in ancient times,
as well as their quality: all are translucent with fine color in their purest forms, except for
the colorless diamond, and very hard, with hardnesses of 8-10 on the Mohs scale. Other
stones are classified by their color, translucency and hardness. The traditional distinction
does not necessarily reflect modern values, for example, while garnets are relatively
inexpensive, a green garnet called Tsavorite, can be far more valuable than a mid-quality
emerald. Another unscientific term for semi-precious gemstones used in art history and
archaeology is hardstone. Use of the terms 'precious' and 'semi-precious' in a commercial
context is, arguably, misleading in that it deceptively implies certain stones are
intrinsically more valuable than others, which is not the case.
In modern times gemstones are identified by gemologists, who describe gems and
their characteristics using technical terminology specific to the field of gemology. The
first characteristic a gemologist uses to identify a gemstone is its chemical composition.
For example, diamonds are made of carbon (C) and rubies of aluminium oxide (Al2O3).
Next, many gems are crystals which are classified by their crystal system such as cubic or
trigonal or monoclinic. Another term used is habit, the form the gem is usually found in.
For example diamonds, which have a cubic crystal system, are often found as
Gemstones are classified into different groups, species, and varieties. For
example, ruby is the red variety of the species corundum, while any other color of
corundum is considered sapphire. Emerald (green), aquamarine (blue), red beryl (red),
goshenite (colorless), heliodor (yellow), and morganite (pink) are all varieties of the
mineral species beryl.
1. DIAMOND Heera
Diamond is the King of Gems. It is one of the most powerful stones. Diamonds are
crystalline forms of carbon and are the hardest stones known. It is supposed to be the
most powerful when combined with other gemstones.
Diamond is the ultimate gemstone, having few weaknesses and much strength. It
is well known that Diamond is the hardest substance found in nature, but few people
realize that Diamond is four times harder than the next hardest natural mineral, corundum
(sapphire and ruby). But even as hard as it is, it is not impervious. It has a broad color
range, high refraction, high dispersion or fire, very low reactivity to chemicals, rarity, and
of course, extreme hardness and durability. Diamond is a polymorph of the element
Usage: It is said to signify purity and innocence. Has always been associated with
strength and good luck. Gives calm sleep and takes away nightmares. Reflects light and
thought and will absorb all energies, both positive and negative. It focuses on the brain,
takes away blocking and strengthens the brain function. A stone for peace. It can help
you achieve material wealth and prestige
2. Ruby : Stone for Lord Sun ( Manik)
This is the gem of Sun, it improves the concentration of mind and gives lusture
to the skin. This gem gives all round success in life and is the karka for leadership. This
improves the leadership qualities and puts the person in forefront. It gives intellectual
A Trace amount of chromium gives Ruby its bright red color.
Ruby is a term for red gemstones derived from the mineral corundum, formed primarily
from aluminum oxide. A Ruby is actually a Sapphire of red color. It is an extremely hard
and durable gemstone, well suited for all jewelry applications. Top quality Rubies are
highly prized, and in larger sizes are frequently valued above all other gemstones,
including Diamonds. Rubies over two carats are extremely rare and valuable.
Considered one of the most precious and perfect gemstones, Ruby
symbolizes the sun, freedom and power. It is a sacred gem to the Buddhists, and is called
"tears of Buddha". Increases energy levels and it will stimulate love if worn close to the
heart. It protects sensitive natures, health and wealth, controls passions. Stimulates blood
circulation, gives calm sleep and takes away nightmares. Will help you if you are
suffering from sadness. It's also said to be able to ward off evil spirits, protect against
poisons and act as an antidote to snakebite.
During the Middle Ages, the ruby was believed to have an inner
fire that could not be concealed. By the time of the Renaissance, only the wealthiest
individuals could dream of owning a ruby. Ruby was said to be the most precious of the
twelve stones God created when he created all things and a Ruby was placed on Aaron's
neck by God's command. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, Ruby is called Ratnaraj, or
king of precious stones. Rubies have been highly prized gemstones throughout history.
3. Yellow Sapphire : Stone for Jupiter (PukhRaj)
This gem of Bhrashpati gives one material wealth and prosperity.It is worn to
give one comforts and also status. People aspiring for administrative and political
positions must wear it to give them the benefit of fate on their side. It also improves the
working of liver and thus improves health and gives radiance to skin.
4. Emerald : Stone for Mercury ( Panna)
This Gem of Lord Ganesha is the favoured Gem of the people seeking
intellectual powers as well as for those seeking wealth .This calms down the nervous
system and improves the capacity to take decisions. It improves the liquidity and money
Emeralds are a gemstone from the Beryl family of stones.
They have a stunning green color. It gets its characteristic emerald green color from
traces of chromium in the crystal matrix. Emeralds of excellent quality which exceed a
carat frequently are valued above diamonds. Inclusions caused by calcite deposits (jardin)
are typical in emeralds and color saturation and hue are a bigger factor in determining the
value of an Emerald.
Emerald is a precious gem that promotes creativity and
perception. It also acts as a natural tranquilizer when you are worried or your mind is
troubled. Emeralds symbolize serenity, success in love, wealth, happiness and peace of
mind. Improves the memory, helps insomnia, strengthens the immune system, helps with
eye sight, restores youth, aids neurological diseases, heals ear problems, and eases child
Emeralds have been treasured for thousands of years. The
infatuation with Emeralds dates back to ancient Egypt and Rome. It is said that Cleopatra
was always adorned in Emeralds and that this was her most treasured jewelry. The
earliest emeralds date from the Ptolemaic era (320-30 B.C.), but there have been
discoveries of mining tools going back to Ramses II (1300 B.C.) or even before. In the
middle Ages, deposits were also uncovered near Salzburg, Austria. By the 16th Century,
however, Colombia became the most celebrated diamond producer, with the stones being
traded throughout South America. To the Romans, emerald was dedicated to Venus, the
Goddess of Beauty, and symbolized the reproductive forces of nature. To the early
Christians, it represented resurrection.
5. White Sapphire (Saffed Pukhraj)
This gem of Venus ,it gives one glamour and radiance which makes one stand
apart from the crowd .It improves sex appeal , improves the innovative powers and
megha shakti , worn by people who want to stand apart and be remembered like actors,
models ,players etc. People in public relations can also benefit a lot from it.
6. Red Coral : Stone for Mars ( Moonga )
Coral: This is the gem of Hanumanjee ,it bestows upon a person courage and
strngth. This also improves the muscular system and improve the capability of bone-
marrow to produce red blood cells .It improves the process of absorption of oxygen by
the lungs and there by gives strength to the entire body and removes my diseases which
are not understood by the medical profession. This also removes the effect of tantra and
evil spirits. If you have uncomfortable dreams this is a must for you.
7. Blue Sapphire : Stone for Saturn ( Neelam )
Blue sapphire is the most talked about gem. It gives status and influence in the
society. Most of the famous people wear this gem to achieve great benefits in life. It gives
rare ideas and skills and enhances the innovative power of mind, said to fight depression
and gives serenity to the mind. Must for people in the creative field and those who desire
fame .
8. Pearl : Stone for Moon
In the Astrological works the moon is considered as signification of heart (man)
and thus wearing a Pearl brings one out of depressions and gives a calm and vibrant
feeling. The memory is also improved and the general interaction with other people is
The orange cosmic rays emitted by the Pearl helps in splitting and exploding the negative
energy in the body. It helps in cleaning and decongesting the negative emotions and
negative energy particles in the Aura. It gives a clear complexion and if used as a powder
on the face gives unique flow. This is a secret of Ayurveda known to few and used by
even fewer people.
9. Gomedh : Stone for Rahu
This is a Gem of Rahu (Dragon’s Head ) Rahu gives mental tensionsunnecessary worries and strained relationships .Wearing its gem gives one mental peace
and freedom from worries .rahu is said to give professional excellence and demolishes
the enemy power by its strong force.
10. Cats Eye (Lehsuniya) : Stone for Ketu
This is a Gem of Ketu (Dragon’s Tail ) .By wearing this gem one is able to
subdue his enemies and is able to remove the effect of any negative forces working on
him. This gives one social recognition and sudden spurts of growth. It protects from
Erratic income and bestows stability in life. This is the gem of Moksha and frees one
Gems are characterized in terms of refractive index, dispersion, specific gravity,
hardness, cleavage, fracture, and luster. They may exhibit pleochroism or double
refraction. They may have luminescence and a distinctive absorption spectrum.
Material or flaws within a stone may be present as inclusions.
Gemstones may also be classified in terms of their "water". This is a recognized
grading of the gem's luster and/or transparency and/or "brilliance". Very transparent gems
are considered "first water", while "second" or "third water" gems are those of a lesser
Value of gemstones
Jewelry made with amber.
There are no universally accepted grading systems for any gemstone other
than white (colorless) diamond. Diamonds are graded using a system developed by the
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in the early 1950s. Historically all gemstones
were graded using the naked eye. The GIA system included a major innovation, the
introduction of 10x magnification as the standard for grading clarity. Other gemstones are
still graded using the naked eye (assuming 20/20 vision).
A mnemonic device, the "four C's" (color, cut, clarity and carat), has been
introduced to help the consumer understand the factors used to grade a diamond.[8] With
modification these categories can be useful in understanding the grading of all
gemstones. The four criteria carry different weight depending upon whether they are
applied to colored gemstones or to colorless diamond. In diamonds, cut is the primary
determinant of value followed by clarity and color. Diamonds are meant to sparkle, to
break down light into its constituent rainbow colors (dispersion) chop it up into bright
little pieces (scintillation) and deliver it to the eye (brilliance). In its rough crystalline
form, a diamond will do none of these things, it requires proper fashioning and this is
called "cut". In gemstones that have color, including colored diamonds, it is the purity
and beauty of that color that is the primary determinant of quality.
Physical characteristics that make a colored stone valuable are color, clarity to
a lesser extent (emeralds will always have a number of inclusions), cut, unusual optical
phenomena within the stone such as color zoning, and asteria (star effects). The Greeks
for example greatly valued asteria in gemstones, which were regarded as a powerful love
charm, and Helen of Troy was known to have worn star-corundum.
Historically gemstones were classified into precious stones and semi-precious
stones. Because such a definition can change over time and vary with culture, it has
always been a difficult matter to determine what constitutes precious stones.
Aside from the diamond, the ruby, sapphire, emerald, pearl (strictly speaking
not a gemstone) and opal have also been considered to be precious. Up to the discoveries
of bulk amethyst in Brazil in the 19th century, amethyst was considered a precious stone
as well, going back to ancient Greece. Even in the last century certain stones such as
aquamarine, peridot and cat's eye have been popular and hence been regarded as
Nowadays such a distinction is no longer made by the trade. Many gemstones
are used in even the most expensive jewelry, depending on the brand name of the
designer, fashion trends, market supply, treatments etc. Nevertheless, diamonds, rubies,
sapphires and emeralds still have a reputation that exceeds those of other gemstones.
Rare or unusual gemstones, generally meant to include those gemstones
which occur so infrequently in gem quality that they are scarcely known except to
connoisseurs, include andalusite, axinite, cassiterite, clinohumite and red beryl.
Gem prices can fluctuate heavily (such as those of tanzanite over the years) or
can be quite stable (such as those of diamonds). In general per carat prices of larger
stones are higher than those of smaller stones, but popularity of certain sizes of stone can
affect prices. Typically prices can range from 1USD/carat for a normal amethyst to
20,000-50,000USD for a collector's three carat pigeon-blood almost "perfect" ruby.
Enamelled gold, amethyst and pearl pendant, about 1880, Pasquale Novissimo (1844–
1914), V&A Museum number M.36-1928.
In the last two decades there has been a proliferation of certification for
gemstones. There are a number of laboratories which grade and provide reports on
diamonds. As there is no universally accepted grading system for colored gemstones,
only one laboratory, AGL (see below) grades gemstones for quality using a proprietary
system developed by the lab.
International Gemological Institute (IGI), independent laboratory for grading and
evaluation of diamonds, jewellery and colored stones.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the main provider of education services
and diamond grading reports
American Gemological Society (AGS) is not as widely recognized nor as old as
the GIA.
American Gem Trade Laboratory which is part of the American Gem Trade
Association (AGTA) a trade organization of jewelers and dealers of colored
American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) which has been taken over by
"Collector's Universe" a NASDAQ listed company which specializes in
certification of collectables such as coins and stamps
European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) founded in 1974 by Guy Margel in
Gemmological Association of All Japan (GAAJ-ZENHOKYO), Zenhokyo, Japan,
active in gemological research
Gemmological Institute of Thailand (GIT) is closely related to Chulalongkorn
Gemmology Institute of Southern Africa, Africa's premium gem laboratory.
Asian Institute of Gemmological Sciences (AIGS), the oldest gemological
institute in South East Asia, involved in gemological education and gem testing
Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF), founded by Prof. Henry Hänni, focusing
on colored gemstones and the identification of natural pearls
Gübelin Gem Lab, the traditional Swiss lab founded by the famous Dr. Eduard
Gübelin. Their reports are widely considered as the ultimate judgement on highend pearls, colored gemstones and diamonds
Each laboratory has its own methodology to evaluate gemstones.
Consequently a stone can be called "pink" by one lab while another lab calls it
"Padparadscha". One lab can conclude a stone is untreated, while another lab concludes
that it is heat treated. To minimise such differences, seven of the most respected labs, i.e.
AGTA-GTL (New York), CISGEM (Milano), GAAJ-ZENHOKYO (Tokyo), GIA
(Carlsbad), GIT (Bangkok), Gübelin (Lucerne) and SSEF (Basel), have established the
Laboratory Manual Harmonisation Committee (LMHC), aiming at the standardization of
wording on reports and certain analytical methods and interpretation of results. Country
of origin has sometimes been difficult to find agreement on due to the constant discovery
of new locations. Moreover determining a "country of origin" is much more difficult than
determining other aspects of a gem (such as cut, clarity etc.).
Gem dealers are aware of the differences between gem laboratories and will make use of
the discrepancies to obtain the best possible certificate.
Cutting and polishing
Raw gemstones.
A rural Thai gem cutter.
A few gemstones are used as gems in the crystal or other form in which they are
found. Most however, are cut and polished for usage as jewelry. The picture to the left is
of a rural, commercial cutting operation in Thailand. This small factory cuts thousands of
carats of sapphire annually. The two main classifications are stones cut as smooth, dome
shaped stones called cabochons, and stones which are cut with a faceting machine by
polishing small flat windows called facets at regular intervals at exact angles.
Stones which are opaque such as opal, turquoise, variscite, etc. are commonly
cut as cabochons. These gems are designed to show the stone's color or surface properties
as in opal and star sapphires. Grinding wheels and polishing agents are used to grind,
shape and polish the smooth dome shape of the stones.
Gems which are transparent are normally faceted; a method which shows the
optical properties of the stone’s interior to its best advantage by maximizing reflected
light which is perceived by the viewer as sparkle. There are many commonly used shapes
for faceted stones. The facets must be cut at the proper angles, which vary depending on
the optical properties of the gem. If the angles are too steep or too shallow, the light will
pass through and not be reflected back toward the viewer. The faceting machine is used
to hold the stone onto a flat lap for cutting and polishing the flat facets.[14] Rarely, some
cutters use special curved laps to cut and polish curved facets.
Gemstone color
Color is the most obvious and attractive feature of gemstones. The color of any
material is due to the nature of light itself. Daylight, often called white light, is actually a
mixture of different colors of light. When light passes through a material, some of the
light may be absorbed, while the rest passes through. The part that is not absorbed
reaches the eye as white light minus the absorbed colors. A ruby appears red because it
absorbs all the other colors of white light (blue, yellow, green, etc.) except red.
The same material can exhibit different colors. For example ruby and sapphire
have the same chemical composition (both are corundum) but exhibit different colors.
Even the same gemstone can occur in many different colors: sapphires show different
shades of blue and pink and "fancy sapphires" exhibit a whole range of other colors from
yellow to orange-pink, the latter called "Padparadscha sapphire".
This difference in color is based on the atomic structure of the stone. Although
the different stones formally have the same chemical composition, they are not exactly
the same. Every now and then an atom is replaced by a completely different atom (and
this could be as few as one in a million atoms). These so called impurities are sufficient
to absorb certain colors and leave the other colors unaffected.
For example, beryl, which is colorless in its pure mineral form, becomes
emerald with chromium impurities. If you add manganese instead of chromium, beryl
becomes pink morganite. With iron, it becomes aquamarine.
Some gemstone treatments make use of the fact that these impurities can be
"manipulated", thus changing the color of the gem.
Treatments applied to gemstones
Gemstones are often treated to enhance the color or clarity of the stone.
Depending on the type and extent of treatment, they can affect the value of the stone.
Some treatments are used widely because the resulting gem is stable, while others are not
accepted most commonly because the gem color is unstable and may revert to the original
A treble clef with gemstones.
Heat can improve gemstone color or clarity. The heating process has been well
known to gem miners and cutters for centuries, and in many stone types heating is a
common practice. Most citrine is made by heating amethyst, and partial heating with a
strong gradient results in ametrine - a stone partly amethyst and partly citrine. Much
aquamarine is heated to remove yellow tones and change the green color into the more
desirable blue or enhance its existing blue color to a purer blue.
Nearly all tanzanite is heated at low temperatures to remove brown undertones
and give a more desirable blue/purple color. A considerable portion of all sapphire and
ruby is treated with a variety of heat treatments to improve both color and clarity.
When jewelry containing diamonds is heated (for repairs) the diamond should be
protected with boracic acid; otherwise the diamond (which is pure carbon) could be
burned on the surface or even burned completely up. When jewelry containing sapphires
or rubies is heated, it should not be coated with boracic acid or any other substance, as
this can etch the surface; they do not have to be "protected" like a diamond.
Virtually all blue topaz, both the lighter and the darker blue shades such as
"London" blue, has been irradiated to change the color from white to blue. Most greened
quartz (Oro Verde) is also irradiated to achieve the yellow-green color.
Emeralds containing natural fissures are sometimes filled with wax or oil to
disguise them. This wax or oil is also colored to make the emerald appear of better color
as well as clarity. Turquoise is also commonly treated in a similar manner.
Fracture filling
Fracture filling has been in use with different gemstones such as diamonds,
emeralds and sapphires. In 2006 "glass filled rubies" received publicity. Rubies over 10
carat (2 g) with large fractures was filled with lead glass, thus dramatically improving the
appearance (of larger rubies in particular). Such treatments are fairly easy to detect.
Synthetic and artificial gemstones
Some gemstones are manufactured to imitate other gemstones. For example, cubic
zirconia is a synthetic diamond stimulant composed of zirconium oxide. Moissanite is
another example. The imitations copy the look and color of the real stone but possess
neither their chemical nor physical characteristics. Moissanite actually has a higher
refractive index than diamond and when presented beside an equivalently sized and cut
diamond will have more "fire" than the diamond.
However, lab created gemstones is not imitations. For example, diamonds, ruby,
sapphires and emeralds have been manufactured in labs to possess identical chemical and
physical characteristics to the naturally occurring variety. Synthetic (lab created)
corundums, including ruby and sapphire, are very common and they cost only a fraction
of the natural stones. Smaller synthetic diamonds have been manufactured in large
quantities as industrial abrasives.
Whether a gemstone is a natural stone or a lab-created (synthetic) stone, the
characteristics of each are the same. Lab-created stones tend to have a more vivid color to
them, as impurities are not present in a lab, so therefore do not affect the clarity or color
of the stone.
Hybrid gemstones
The terms synthetic, natural, artificial, and imitation are well-understood by
gemologists. However, gemologists have had to continually explain these terms, as
applied in gemology, both to those within and outside of the industry, as synthetic in
particular has different definitions when applied to different fields.
It is precisely because certain new gem treatments overlap more than one gem
category that the term hybrid has been suggested. These materials consist of an original
natural material that has been significantly added to – to the extent that the term natural
no longer applies. Hybrid gems consist of natural material along with artificial material –
either synthetic growth or polymers or glasses.
Hybrid is defined as those gem materials where there is no easy means of
separating the natural from the artificial components. This is key, in that with a doublet or
a triplet, the natural material can be isolated, identified – and theoretically retrieved from
the whole. Hybrid will not be confused with assembled, but it will encompass
reconstructed materials as well as B-jades.
Hybrid will not apply to traditional oiling of emerald and (comparatively
minor) fracture healing as seen in many Mong Hsu rubies; these treatments are
insignificant in comparison and additives would account for less than 5% of the total
mass in most cases, but there remains the possibility that some heavily treated stones in
these categories may qualify as hybrids.
Major industry educators, dealers, and trade organizations have seen the need
for this new upper-level category. In some ways it is a dramatic addition to the
gemological terms, but is merely a natural evolution due to modern treatment methods
The story of Indian jewelry like no other country on our planet can boast an
unbroken heritage of 5000 years. This all consuming passion of a race of people has its
roots in
• An abundant natural resource at its disposal
• An obsession to fashion body adornments
. The belief that a jewel as a precious piece was a medium between the known and the
unknown, between man and God
Jewelry in India apart from being an enhancer of beauty also has an intrinsic
value, to be enchased if the need arose. Man the creature is a·, Traveler who travels to
new places to trade and enrich himself with the cross cultural influences. This is evident
in the evolutional history of the Indian jewelry as an art. The influence of various cultures
which have been amalgamated.
Extensive trade existed between India, Ancient Greece, Achaemenian, Toran
and Rome. Jewelry was among the luxury items exported from India. The people of
the first civilizations lacked many essential resources. Driven by the demands of the
kings or lured by the glitter of profit, adventurous merchants led donkey trains through
mountains or deserts and piloted small ships across treacherous waters. The Indus
valley in the east with its bustling markets and streets traded in precious metals and
gemstones that they had never seen. There began a trade that would continue for
thousands of years. The expansion of trade greatly increased the variety of materials
available to jewelers. The Indus Valley dweller was fond of adorning themselves in
trinkets, bangles and a sizeable jewelry industry evolved. Indus bead makers
produced their wares in an enormous variety of shape, size and more importantly
material, from gold to silver to common clay. They imported large quantities of
semiprecious stones- Jade from the Himalayas, Lapis, Lazuli from Afghanistan,
Turquoise from Persia Trade brought wealth to the merchant class in India but it
also brought with it fear, fear of the Brahman class who ruled them spiritually and
the Kings and Rulers who ruled them physically. This led to an enormous
hoarding of all things precious primarily gold, silver and gemstones in any form,
raw or jewelry to be encashed in periods of need. These hoarded adornments also
made excellent bribe items to appease the anger of the priests or the ruler of the
Mauryan period Jewellery
In relation to the Mauryan-Sunga period, we noticed a .tendency towards greater
refinement and simplicity in this period. Gold was much in use and was called hiranya
and suvarana, silver was known as rlipya, and copper as tamra, and these continued to
be for making jewellery. Gold and silver were often encrusted with ratna or jewels.
These included carnelians, agates, lapis lazuli, amethysts, garnets, coral, and pearls.
Sapphires, topaz, diamonds and cat's - eyes were embedded or sometimes strung in
various ways and
Worn as ornaments:
Besides this, the art of enameling was known, as well as inlay work in shell and
mother-of-pearl. Gold beads were beautifully filigreed or filled with lac, while others
had cores of jasper and turquoise paste and were strung on thread or wire to be worn as
necklaces called kantha, or long ones worn between the breasts known as hara.
Stringing coins to be worn as necklaces, called nishka, was in vogue. Foreigners wore
the torque, a simple necklace of gold wire. It was a characteristic ornament of the
Seythian and Celtic people and was worn as a mark of distinction by the Persian and
parthians, all of whom were of the same stock, as were the Sakas and Kushans. Shell
and terra-cotta beads continued to be strung and worn by the poorer classes.
The earrings, kundala, were of three types and most often of gold though there is
evidence of ivory ones as well. The pendant type often had decorative rosettes and
granulation. The ring type, Scythian in origin, could be simple with a gold wire wound
around or mixture of both types, that is, a ring elaborately decorated, with beads as well
as bud-like pendants. Of these; the simpler kind was used by men, except for foreigners
who are depicted as wearing none. Armlets were known as keyura and bracelets as
valaya. Both men and women wore these. Those for women were often made thick or
thin sheets of gold with hinged clasps, and elaborately ornamented and inlaid. Simple
bangles of glass, shell, or ivory were also used. Head ornaments were varied. As the
turban and head veils of women went out of fashion they were replaced by a bejeweled
diadem or crown called mukuta, or a simple fillet or headband called opasa. These were
used in addition to the garlands of flowers, sraja, which remained popular. Gold or silver
hairpins with attractively ornamented heads held up hair. Men continued to wear the
mouli (turban). The mekhala or girdle \V~IS mainly of beads and along with nupura or
anklet was worn only by women. This was simpler and lighter than that in the previous
period. 'There is an absence or forehead ornaments like the sitaara and bindi of the
Mauryan-Sunga period.
The Guptas
The Gupta period in the second century hailed the arrival of classical simplicity
and elegance to jewelry. No longer was quantity considered beautiful. More than any
other period in Indian history the Gupta period documented the wealth and quality of
court life. The emphasis was on quiet elegance on less rather than more. A single piece
of exquisitely designed jewelry was more appreciated than any show of wealth. Texts
on gemology and mineralogy are available from this period. In post Guptan period
jewelry in India became more stylized and stereotypical.
Cholas Cheras Pandyas
Meanwhile in the south Raja raja had conquered the three kingdoms of the
Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas. The Cholas apart from controlling all the important
trading ports in southern India also monopolized the gold mines, the pearl Fisheries and
diamond mines. The repertoire of the Chola jewelers was extensive but very few of
these pieces can be seen today.
The Mughal Period
India was no stranger to foreign conquerors. Thanks to well watered soil and
populace skilled in art and craft it was then a haven from the more desolate lands of the
north. Over the past millennia and a half Greeks, Scythians, and Huns had in turn been
drawn by its legendary riches. But none had radically altered Indian life. They had
imposed their authority for only a little while before their identity was swallowed by
their Hindu subjects. In January 1505 a band of horsemen set out from the Afghan city
of Kabul In a few days they reached low land district of ningnahar which marked the
beginning of the great Indian plains. Babar the 21 year old leader of the expedition saw
a world rich and prosperous. To make it his own was an obsession which he" fulfilled
two decades later. The Mughals were back and this time they were here to stay. The
Mughal tryst with Indian jewelry had begun. Islam was something new, with its advent
the fine fabric of India changed forever. To Muhammad Ghazni the first invader India
was simply a vast treasure store of precious metals, stones and jewels. He had no inkling
that his conquest of the Punjab would pave the way for Muslim successors who would
come to India not merely to plunder but to rule. For all that, Muslim invaders brought
with them a rich heritage of pomp and splendor, a passion for all things bright and
sparkling, a burning need to be bedecked and bejeweled. An integration of the Persian
designs with Indian art was the beginning of the later Mughal jewelry now so
resplendent. The imperial Mughal treasury was instituted. Its coffers included such
diverse items as one thousand saddles of gold and silver, swords blades embellished
with gems thrones in gold studded with precious stones an infinite number of pearls
diamonds rubies and emeralds. Despite the love of display, sound economics Was the
basis for the insatiable acquiring of precious gemstones by the Mohall emperors.
Loose stones could be paid to armies stationed far away from the capital it was the
most easily transported item of wealth and could gain political asylum anywhere.
Design and artistry flourished in this period with the jewelry design reaching a peak
in intricacy. Minakari (enameling) saw a rebirth as did inlay work. Indian jewelry
saw resurgence, a renewed energy, of showmanship, of aesthetic idolatry and more
importantly of creativity.
Pallava Period
The region in which Kanchipuram is situated is generally known as
Thondaimandalam or the Pallava country. The area includes Chingleput district and parts
of the districts of Chittore, North Arcot and South Arcot. The thondai creeper (Capparis
zeylanica) after which the region is named is commonly found in the jungle areas and the
creeper produces spectacular flowers in March, and bright red globular fruits later. The
flowers were used by the Pallava monarchs in their garlands, and the fruits were
compared to the red lips of pretty women by the Tamil poets.
1. Pre-Pallava Period
People of Thondaimandalam had very much. in common with the people of the
rest of Tamilnadu in matters of dress and ornaments. The antiquity of Kanchi goes back
to the megalithic period, and the megalithic culture was spread over a vast area in South
India. Excavations at these megalithic sites have yielded large quantities of shell
The sangam literature contains many descriptions of women wearing shell
bangles. Perumbaanaatrupadai, composed on King Thondaimaan llamtirayan, describes
people of Kanchi and Thondainaadu, in general. Ornaments referred to in the work
include bangles (valai, thodi), golden ear ornaments (kuzhai), golden leg ornaments
(silambu), and an ornament on the forehead (suravu vaai amaitha surumbu soozh sudar
nuthal). All the above ornaments were worn by women. The ornaments gifted to men
(minstrels) are generally referred to as porn. Women are described as wearing a thin cloth
at the waist (nun tuhil). The minstrel (male) was presef"1ted with a costume made of fine
thread (aavi anna avir nool kalingam). Both men and women are described as wearing
flowers on their hair. And in one passage, a woman (minstrel's wife) is presented with a
garland of gold, or necklace (ponnin thodai amai maalai).
One may get indirect evidence on dress and ornaments from other sangam poems,
even though they may not specifically deal with the Thondai region. For example, .0De
may assume the wearing of bangles or spirals around the upper arm (they used the word
"thozh" which now refers to the shoulders). Women used to decorate their waist with
leaves, picked up from the jungle.1 Young men used to wear flowers above the ears as
part of their self-adornment. 2 Both men and women used to paint their bodies with
sandalwood paste. Maid-servants attending on queens used to wear a breast-band
Apart from literary sources, one can turn to archaeological evidence.
Excavations at Kanchi have revealed terra cotta bangles, beads, and pendants.4
Excavations at Arikamedu5 near Pondich.erry have produced terra cotta figures, some
of which are heavily draped' in the form of a saree. These figures can be examined at
the Government Library at Pondicherry. Dr TV. Mahalingam, discussing the social
conditions of this early period in the Chola country, has gone to the extent of claiming
that the women folk wore nicely woven sarees and blouses6 a small panel in the
Nagarjunakonda region unmistakably shows a saree-like single piece costume on a
female figure of the rustic type. However, one does not come across anything like a
saree depicted in later day sculpture and paintings till about the sixteenth century.
2. Pallava Period
Even though the Pallavas ruled from Kanchi from the fourth century onwards,
we shall mainly deal with the period of the Pallavas of the Simhavishnu line, starting
from the later part of the sixth century AD. For the first time in this part of the country,
stone temples were created from the early seventh century by Mahendra and his son,
Mamalla Narasimha. A large number of sculptures depicting various Kinds of costumes
and jewellery are available for systematic study from the Pallava period. Many of the
ornaments of the Chola and Vijayanagar periods owe their origin to the Pallava period.
And the costumes and jewellery of the Pallava period truly represent the costumes and
jewellery of Thondaimandalam..
A study of the ornaments reveals a clear change and evolution of fashion in the
courts of the Pallava rulers, and has become a powerful tool of the art historian with
which to date the monuments to within a few decades.
We shall divide the Pallava period into three periods. First the MahendraNarasimha period; second, the Rajasimha period; and third, the late Pallava period.
Obviously there is a gap between the first and the second as well as between the second
and the third, but we are mainly interested in the difference in style between the three
i. Mahendra-Narasimha Period (600 to 670 A.D.)
The first period is represented by the cave temples of Mahendra, with large
square pillars, cave temples of Narasimha with lion and vyala pillars, the Arjuna
penance panels, and monoliths of Narasimha (the five rathas). Whether Narasimha built
any structural temples at all has been a matter of dispute.
We shall assume that the dress and ornaments depicted on the sculptures actually
existed and were in common use. The: change of fashion in the Pallava court at Kanchi
is reflected in the change of style in sculpture.
The characteristic costumes and jewellery of the period are the large patra
kundalas (with an average diameter of 8 angulas compared to 12 angulas' height of the
face), moderately high makutas (less than 24 angulas), thick single diagonal band across
the chest for men, and absence of leg ornaments for men. For women, the breast band
(when present) is broad,' they wear a brief bikini-like garment (often without any other
dress) and single leg ornament on each leg, and they wear no diagonal band. Both male
and female figures are depicted often with a makara kundala on one ear and a patra
kundala on the other.
There are about six different kinds of crowns or makutas depicted in this period.
The short krita makuta found on Mahendra and Narasimha in the Adivaraha cave is also
found on the maids-in waiting of Gajalakshmi in the same temple. Usually Vishnu is
decked with the cylindrical krita makuta, but the reclining Vishnu in the Shore Temple
complex appears to be unique in having jatamakuda. (Is Vishnu depicted. as sleeping
after having removed his krita makuta?) Siva and the rishis (Arjuna penance) are shown
with jata makuta. It is a way of gathering up the thick locks of hair in the form of makuta.
Jewels and flowers are added to this arrangement. One also finds the karanda makuta in
the shape of inverted pots depicted on many figures in the Arjuna penance and Krishna
mandapa. Like the jata makuta, and unlike the krita makuta, the karanda makuta is a
form of arrangement of hair. On the kritas are tied side plaques studded with pearls and
colored stones. The crowns, especially the krita makuta, are kept secure on the head with
a patta (going over the forehead) tightened at the back with a circular buckle called the
siras chakra (found, among other places, on the figures of the Dharmaraja ratha).
About ten different varieties of kundalas can be noted in Mahabalipuram. Some
of the varieties such as those found on the royal portraits in the Adivaraha cave are 'not
met with outside of Mahabalipuram. There are also other tiny ear ornaments worn on
parts of the upper ear. On the Dharmaraja ratha there are figures of men (gods) with
flowers tucked above the ears.
The peculiar kundalas of the Adivaraha cave are also found in the Kotikal
mandapam and in the Arjuna penance panel. The kundala on the dvarapalika in the
Kotikal mandapam is similar to the one all king Mahendra. A large kundala with four
circular petals, found on the queen of Mahendra, is also found on one of the celestial
figures in the Arjuna penance panel. Both male and female figures are shown wearing
contrasting kinds of kundalas on different ears.
Some of the kundalas were probably terra cotta pieces. Such kundalas have
actually been discovered in excavations. Some people must have worn leaves and
flowers in the place of kundalas of precious metals, as can be seen from the pastoral
scene in the Krishnamandapa. With the single exception of the figure of the minstrel on
the Dharmaraja ratha, all human and divine figures have their ears pierced. In a few
cases figures are shown without kundalas, but with long ear-lobes, and some times with
tiny ornaments on the lobe.
The ratna kundala which is common in medieval sculptures is not found in this
period. No nose ornament is found either in the Pallava or the early Chola period.
Necklaces and garlands went under the name of maalai in Tamil. Necklaces often
without a pendant (thooku) are depicted on both male and female figures. There are
similarities between necklaces depicted in Mahabalipuram and in the caves of Ajanta.
For example, a short necklace with a cylindrical centre piece 'flanked by globular pieces,
depicted on many male figures on the Dharmaraja ratha, is very similar to the pearl
necklace with a blue central piece worn by Bodhisattva Padmapani of the Ajanta murals.
The, necklace with large globular pieces found on the royal portrait on the southern side
of the Dharmaraja ratha must be identified as a necklace of large pearls and not as a
rudraksha mala, as is often made out. The short, necklace worn high up on the neck. is
conspicuously absent. Flower garlands are worn across the chest 8S a diagonal band by
the .dvarapalakas and ganas, but the details on these are not as clear as in the Chola
period. The yagnopavita, or the diagonal band, is thick, and it mayor may not go over the
right arm. Many of the dvarapalakas of the Mahendra caves are shown with the band
going over the arm in some cases and not going over the arm in other cases (in the same
temple!). A long maalai going diagonally across the chest in both directions is called the
veera sangili, or swarnakshaka, and is found on many figures. There are many varieties
of such an ornament.
Men, especially the dvarapalakas and chauri-bearers, are often shown with a
stomach belt called the udarabandhanam, worn above the navel. However, many of the
deities are shown without the udarabandhanam.
Women are sometimes depicted with the breast-band (kachu). These breast-bands
are without any shoulder straps. Neither Parvati nor Lakshmi nor Bhudevi is depicted
with the breast-band. But the female guardians, Durga, and the celestial nymphs (Arjuna
penance panel) are. The queens of Mahendra and Narasimha are depicted bare above the
waist, but their bodies would have been painted with Kunkum, sandal paste and
There are three main types of bands worn on the upper arm, viz. the arm bangle
(thozh valai), the simple spiral (the early form of paapu surul). and the keyura (with
elaborate decorations of pearls and gems) and different kinds of bangles. Women are
occasionally depicted with a large number of bangles, but men always with only a few
on each arm. This contrast is brought out in the Ardhanarisvara figure on the Dharma
raja ratha. The figures of this period are not depicted with rings on the fingers at
The garments worn by the people are very simple. The long veshti is found
mainly on Vishnu and the rishis. Some men are shown wearing a garment which
resembles a pair of modern shorts, and some much shorter briefs, and some others with a
narrow loin cloth (kovana aadai). Many male figures are shown with a long sash which is
often worn around the waist with a semi-circular loop hanging in front. The sash
(uttariya) is also shown as tied across the stomach in the case. of some ganas and the
royal figures of Mahendri3 and Narasimha. Most of the female figures are shown with
just a" single piece of garment worn in the shape of a panty. It must have been a Yshaped piece of cloth tied at the back with the loose ends hanging down for a couple of
feet or so. In the bathing Lakshmi scene (Varaha " cave) it is shown transparent to show
the effect of wet cloth. This short garment for women is .very typical of this period.
There are two examples where a woman is shown with the veshti without any folds.
Women are not shown with any other kind of long garment. Occasionally women are
also shown in shorts (vattudai), one is the queen of Mahendra.The sash is also shown
worn around the waist on female figures, In a few cases strings of pearls (mekala) are
shown on the waist, but this is not common, No elaborate belt is shown either on the
male or female figures.
Men are shown without leg ornaments. Women are shown with a single anklet
on each leg (silambu, and some times kinkini). Some of the shepherd women depicted
in the Krishna mandapa are shown without any leg ornament.
ii. Rajasimha Period (690-725)
Sculptures of the Rajasimha period are well-preserved in the Kailasanatha temple,
kanchi, and in some portions of the Shore temple, Mahabalipuram. Most of the
Kailasanatha sculptures are in sandstone, a material easily available in Kanchi itself. The
makutas of this period ale very tall (more than 24 angulas -- twice the face height) for
men. For women a peculiar garland-like hair style, pinched in the middle, is found at the
base of the tall crown-like portion. People tend to wear the same kind of kundala on both
ears, and the size of the patra kundala is reduced to a diameter of about 3 angulas. For the
first time one can see the original colours in which the costumes were depicted from the
painted panels and sculptures of the Kailasanatha temple. The siraschakra is shown as a
large circle at the back of Siva's head in the' Somaskanda panels. The siraschakra is much
larger here than the ones found on the later Pallava bronzes.
Women are represented with a diagonal band of pearls which mayor may not go
between the breasts. The tight necklace high up on the neck (choker) appears for the first
time. The diagonal band for men divides into three strands: one gees down vertically
through the veshti, another which is broad drops vertically then passes around the right
side of the body, and the third (composed of threads) goes round the lower chest on the
right. This arrangement of the diagonal band becomes very common in the Chola period.
The breast-band shown on Durga and maids-in-waiting has vertical shoulder
straps. (The vertical straps disappear in the late Vijayanagar period.) The tight-fitting
saree (without the upper portion) worn in the. Fashion of the Bharatanatya dancer, going
round each leg, comes into fashion. On the ankles many anklets of different types are
worn at the same time.
Men are depicted with anklets for the first time, though these anklets are found
mainly on the dvarapalakas and the dancing forms of Siva. Such anklets are made up of
small globular bells. Rings are shown on fingers and toes. In general there is more
elaborate ornamentation in this period, a fact which perhaps reflects the prosperity of the
The two emblems of Vishnu, the chank and chakra, appear with flames for the first
iii. Late Pallava Period (750-900)
This period may be treated as a time of decadence for the Pallavas. The crowns
get shorter, and the figures become more formalized. Most of the sculptures must have
been based on a canon and a formula. The kundalas are relatively small. The patra
kundala is often turned so as to show the full circle. The diagonal band for women
continues. The shoulder strap for the breast-band sometimes has the shape of an
inverted Y where' if joins the breast-band. The lion-face buckle for the belt appears.
Perhaps the earliest example of this buckle in Thondaimandalam can be seen at the
Vaikunthaperumal temple, Kanchi. The brief bikini-like garment gradually disappears
and is replaced by the saree (without the top). Depiction of a single leg ornament
becomes common. For men the leg ornament is found on practically every figure
towards the end of this period.
Temple .Jewelry
Indian jewelry art is at times divided into three kinds - temple jewelry, spiritual
jewelry and bridal jewelry. Temple jewelry of India initially used to be described as the
jewelry used to adorn the idols of Gods and Goddesses. The statues In India were
ornamented with chunky necklaces that were either strung with beads or crafted with
intricate filigree. Amongst the other ornaments that adorned statues of deities were
large chunky bangles, usually studded with gems. In addition, earrings, nose rings and
anklets were also used.
The jewelry used to adorn the idols was later worn by temple dancers and slowly,
the designs became a part of the Indian Woman’s bridal jewelry trousseau. Though the
idols continued to be decorated with jewelry, a practice seen even today, the jewelry of
Indian women also came be made on the pattern. Today, temple jewellery has become
open of the most popular crafts of ·India. During festivals and occasions of worship of
Gods, women wear temple jewelry, believed to be auspicious and offer good luck.
Jewelry items like pendants, bracelets, belts and brooches based on temple
jewelry are very popular amongst women, during auspicious times, and wearing these is
believed to bring fortuity to the person. The favorite design for pendants is that of
Ganesha - the elephant headed god known to bestow good luck and good fortune. The
other emblem, which is also, very much in demand, is that of the sacred syllable OM.
These days, the temple jewelry of India is finding a flavor amongst foreigners too.
Tribal Jewelry
Tribal jewelry in India is quite rich. Each tribe has kept its unique style of
jewelry intact even now. The original format of jewelry design has been preserved by
ethnic tribal. Jewelry that is made of bone, wood, clay, shells and crude metal, by
tribal, is not only attractive, but also holds a distinct rustic and earthy charm. Tribal
jewelry is made of the products that are available locally. The unrefined look of their
jewelry is something that attracts people most. As has been said each tribe has its own
indigenous jewelry craft, here is the list of the tribes, with' their jewelry art described
in brief.
This nomadic' tribe of Rajasthan is known for its colorful heavy jewelry.
Beautiful ornaments and belts that are embellished with shells, metal-mesh, coins,
beads, and chains are 'major jewelry art work, by this tribe. This tribe provides huge
collection of earrings, bracelets, bangles, amulets, anklets, hairpins and necklaces.
The tribes of Bastar (Madhya Pradesh) make jewelry out of 'grass beads and
cane. Traditional ornaments made of silver, wood, glass, peacock feathers, copper and
wild flowers are also popular. Necklaces made of one-rupee coins are also worn by the
Bastar, women.
Arunachal Pradesh
Tribes The tribes in Arunachal Pradesh make jewelry 'from cane and bamboo.
They also adorn metal coin necklaces and waistbands of leather, studded with stones.
These tribes use brass, bone, ivory, silver and gold in their jewelry too. In addition,
colorful beads, blue'
Feathers of birds, green wings of beetles are used to make ornaments. Karka
Gallong women wear heavy iron rings that are coiled several times, while Wanchos
make earrings of glass beads, wild seeds, cane, bamboo and reed.
Khasi, Jaintia and Garo
The people of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo tribes have typical sense of jewelry art.
Thick red coral bead necklaces of the Khasis and Jaintias and thin fluted stems of
glass, strung by fine thread, of the Garo tribe are interesting jewelry items.
The Bhutia tribe of Sikkim has also been known for making beautiful jewelry.
The people of this tribe usually make use of gold, silver, coral, turquoise and zee stone.
1. Explain briefly about the Indian Jewellery – jewelleries used in the period of
Indus valley civilization, Mauryan period , Gupta Period , the Pallava and Chola
Period , Symbolic Jewellery of South India,Mughal period. Temple Jewellery of
South India, Tribal jewellery.
2. Write a note on brief study of gems and precious stones.
: V
Traditional embroideries of India – Origin ,Embroidery stitches used –embroidery of
Kashmir , Phulkari of Punjab ,Gujarat – Kutch and Kathiawar, embroidery of Rajasthan ,
Kasuti of Karnataka ,Chickenwork of Lucknow, Kantha of Bengal – in all the above –
types and colours of fabric /thread
Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with
needle and thread or yarn. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as metal
strips, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins.
A characteristic of embroidery is that the basic techniques or stitches of the
earliest work—chain stitch, buttonhole or blanket stitch, running stitch, satin stitch, cross
stitch—remain the fundamental techniques of hand embroidery today.
Machine embroidery, arising in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution,
mimics hand embroidery, especially in the use of chain stitches, but the "satin stitch" and
hemming stitches of machine work rely on the use of multiple threads and resemble hand
work in their appearance, not their construction.
The origins of embroidery are unknown, but early examples survive from ancient
Egypt, Iron Age Northern Europe and Zhou Dynasty China. Examples of surviving
Chinese chain stitch embroidery worked in silk thread have been dated to the Warring
States period (5th-3rd century BC).
The process used to tailor, patch, mend and reinforce cloth fostered the
development of sewing techniques, and the decorative possibilities of sewing led to the
art of embroidery. In a garment from Migration period Sweden, roughly 300–700 CE, the
edges of bands of trimming are reinforced with running stitch, back stitch, stem stitch,
tailor's buttonhole stitch, and whip stitching, but it is uncertain whether this work simply
reinforces the seams or should be interpreted as decorative embroidery.
The remarkable stability of basic embroidery stitches has been noted:
It is a striking fact that in the development of embroidery. There are no changes of
materials or techniques which can be felt or interpreted as advances from a primitive to a
later, more refined stage. On the other hand, we often find in early works a technical
accomplishment and high standard of craftsmanship rarely attained in later times.
Elaborately embroidered clothing, religious objects, and household items have
been a mark of wealth and status in many cultures including ancient Persia, India, China,
Japan, Byzantium, and medieval and Baroque Europe. Traditional folk techniques are
passed from generation to generation in cultures as diverse as northern Vietnam, Mexico,
and Eastern Europe. Professional workshops and guilds arose in medieval England. The
output of these workshops, called Opus Anglicanum or "English work," was famous
throughout Europe.[5] The manufacture of machine-made embroideries in St. Gallen in
eastern Switzerland flourished in the latter half of the 19th century.
Embroidery can be classified according to whether the design is stitched on top of
or through the foundation fabric, and by the relationship of stitch placement to the fabric.
In free embroidery, designs are applied without regard to the weave of the
underlying fabric. Examples include crewel and traditional Chinese and Japanese
Counted-thread embroidery patterns are created by making stitches over a
predetermined number of threads in the foundation fabric. Counted-thread embroidery is
more easily worked on an even-weave foundation fabric such as embroidery canvas, aide
cloth, or specially woven cotton and linen fabrics although non-even weave linen is used
as well. Examples include needlepoint and some forms of black work embroidery.
In canvas work threads are stitched through a fabric mesh to create a dense pattern
that completely covers the foundation fabric. Traditional canvas work such as bargello is
a counted-thread technique. Since the 19th century, printed and hand painted canvases
where the painted or printed image serves as color-guide have eliminated the need for
counting threads. These are particularly suited to pictorial rather than geometric designs
deriving from the Berlin wool work craze of the early 19th century.
In drawn thread work and cutwork, the foundation fabric is deformed or cut away
to create holes that are then embellished with embroidery, often with thread in the same
color as the foundation fabric. These techniques are the progenitors of needlelace. When
created in white thread on white linen or cotton, this work is collectively referred to as
The fabrics and yarns used in traditional embroidery vary from place to place.
Wool, linen, and silk have been in use for thousands of years for both fabric and yarn.
Today, embroidery thread is manufactured in cotton, rayon, and novelty yarns as well as
in traditional wool, linen, and silk. Ribbon embroidery uses narrow ribbon in silk or
silk/organza blend ribbon, most commonly to create floral motifs.
Surface embroidery techniques such as chain stitch and couching or laid-work are
the most economical of expensive yarns; couching is generally used for goldwork.
Canvas work techniques, in which large amounts of yarn are buried on the back of the
work, use more materials but provide a sturdier and more substantial finished textile.
In both canvas work and surface embroidery an embroidery hoop or frame can be
used to stretch the material and ensure even stitching tension that prevents pattern
distortion. Modern canvas work tends to follow very symmetrical counted stitching
patterns with designs developing from repetition of one or only a few similar stitches in a
variety of thread hues. Many forms of surface embroidery, by contrast, are distinguished
by a wide range of different stitching patterns used in a single piece of work.
They are two types of embroidery namely,
1. hand embroidery
2. machine embroidery
Hand embroidery
Embroidery done by hand is called hand embroidery. It is a time consuming
process and need a high experience for a better result. It is mainly a strain to the eyes.
Embroidery embellishes, enlivens and enriches fabric using needle, thread and vivid
Machine embroidery
Much contemporary embroidery is stitched with a computerized embroidery
machine using patterns "digitized" with embroidery software. It is less time consuming
process. In machine embroidery, different types of "fills" add texture and design to the
finished work. Machine embroidery is used to add logos and monograms to business
shirts or jackets, gifts, and team apparel as well as to decorate household linens,
draperies, and decorator fabrics that mimic the elaborate hand embroidery of the past.
The word Kashmir can be splitted as “Kas” means “Water channel” and Mir
means “mountain”. However Kashmir means “rock through” in the regional language.
The northern most state of India, Jammu and Kashmir is known for its beauty.
Kashmir embroidery has become world renowned, largely through its superb shawls. All
facts of Kashmir’s incomparable beauty seam to be reflected in its needle work.
Embroidery here is known as Kashida.
The shawl industry flourished by Sultan Zavri-ul-abiden during 15th century. He
brought craftsmen from Persia to revive the existing art. The demand for Kashmir shawls
increased during Mughal rule. However, the shawl industry decreased by the end of 19th
century probably because of increase in the cost, change in fashion trend, all over the
Types of stitches:
Kashida embroidery of Kashmir is worked in several different forms. They are:
· Zalakdozo: It is a chain stitch done with hook and on almost anything from the choice
shawls to the roughly used floor coverings, in long and flowing designs.
· Vata- Chikin: Buttonhole stitch used only in thick fillings seen in landscapes, garden
and crowded scene.
· Doria: Open work done on all type of fabrics.
· Talaibar: Gold work done on brocades and silks.
· Jall: All over embroidery designs are worked in trellis pattern.
· Skikargarths: Hunting scenes.
· Amli: Delicate filling in stitches in multi coloured threads in Kari shawls.
Before commencing the embroidery work the selected design is traced on the
fabric. The design, these are done by the professional traces called Naquashband
(Nakshaband) that follow the traditional technique even today.
The design is outlined with kalam; the pen Greater percent of motifs are picked up
from nature, which provide inspiration to Naquabandi.
A large variety of flowers of tremendous colours, shapes, size namely Lilly, tulip,
saffron, iris, bunches of grapes, apple, almond, cherries, plums, birds like kingfisher,
parrot, wood pecker, magpie, canary all appear in Kashida. The chinar leaf is the motif
most abundantly used along with Cyprus tree.
Many beautiful coloured butterflies found in the sanctuary and valley have
occupied an important place in the Kashida. Animal and Human figure are not found
commonly, probably the influence of Muslims. But depicted hunting scene popularly
known as Shikargarh available only in museums of Srinagar. These motifs are not used in
the motifs of Kashida of Kashmir.
Indo-Persian Art around 17th & 18th century provided cone shaped mango motif,
the kaka, badami butta, buta. This is done in naturalistic, geometrical & in stylized forms.
Embroidery threads:
Embroidery thread employed earlier was fine quality woolen yarn. Gradually
woolen yarns were replaced by rich & lustrous silk threads. The bright, gorgeous
inexpensive art silk (rayon) thread has entered the industry by replacing the expensive
silk threads. Cotton threads of bright colours with good colour fastness are also used
Colours used:
The embroidery is comprised of wide spectrum of colours of light and dark
shades, such ass crimson red, scarlet red, blue, yellow, green, purple, black & brown.
Earlier the yarns were locally dyed with indigenous natural colours. But nowadays all the
threads used in the industry are invariably mill dyed with synthetic dye staff.
Types of Woven Fabrics:
Pashmina Shawl: these are superior quality shawls. They are made from wool of the
Capra Hercus, a species of wild Asian mountain goat. So, that the name given.
Do Shawl/ Double Shawl: these are solids in pairs. Two identical shawls were stitched
together so that when draped over shoulders wrong sides were not visible.
Do Rookha: Double side work in which there is no right & wrong side. Simple patterns
were reproduced on both side, but sometimes with different colours.
Kasaba Shawls: Square in shape and produce on account of European demand. They are
generally twill weave/ damask in plain work.
Jamewar Shawl: Woven in wool and some cotton. The floral designs and brocaded parts
are generally in silk.
Refoogari: (Darning): It is worked with the same type of material as that of the base so
that interweaving produces a fine texture in the fabric.
Embroidery on shawls:
The embroidery on shawl is done at different parts like border, corner, centre, all
over scattered. They are:
· Hashia: Border design, which runs all along the length of the shawl on either side.
· Phala: It is done on both the ends of the article, popularly known as Pallu.
· Tanjjir or Zanjir: Border with chain stitch running either above or below the Phala.
· Kunj Butta: Cluster of flowers in the corner.
· Butta: Generic name for the floral design.
· Appliqué: Another variety of Kashmir embroidery, which is very unique done on
carpets, shawls & woolen blankets.
· Tapestry work: It is done with a blunt tapestry needle, were the material is stitched on
a wooden frame with the tracing kept along its side.
· Zalakdozi: Resembles crochet. Various articles are prepared by hook embroidery and
one of them is Namda, a felt carpet.
Kashmiri Kashida motifs
Phulkari is the most important world famous embroidery textiles from Punjab.
Phulkari are analyzed as “Phul”, flower and “Kari”, work that is floral work or flowering.
It is a special, traditional handwork mainly found in Gurgaon, Hissar, Rohtak, Kurnal and
Delhi. However, in West Punjab this embroidery is famous as “Bagh” means garden, in
which the entire surface of the shawl is decorated with floral designs.
Phulkari is an integral part of the life of Punjabi girl. In any function, festival, gettogether functions one or the other type of Phulkari or Bagh is invariably used. It is
believed to be auspicious, a symbol of happiness, prosperity and Suhag of a married
woman. However, it is considered as a great treasure. The rough and coarse base material
of Phulkari symbolizes hard and tough yet colourful life of Punjabi women; the rich and
glossy work with pat portrays her dreams and aspirations. It can also be added here that,
Phulkari adds delicacy, elegance and grace to the heavy personality of Punjabi women
Chaddar, Bagh and Chope are the three types of embroideries, which are grouped
according to the craftsmanship. “Chadder”, the shawl having the surface decoration is
used by the bride during the “Phera” ceremony that is, when she takes seven rounds of
the holy fire. It is always a red coloured khaddar having five flowers centrally arranged
and the other four motifs in each corner of the shawl.
Bagh having overall interconnected designs and were geometrically
conventionalized. Chope is little longer than usual shawl, where only the edges along the
selvedges were embroidered with golden yellow coloured silk floss against red coloured
Materials used for Phulkari are:
· Khaddar- a loosely spun and coarsely woven fabric
· Chaunsa khaddar – woven with fine yarn
· Hal wan-Light weight finely woven fabric.
Soft, glossy, untwisted silk thread is employed for the stitching, which is basically
supplied from Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bengal, which is called “Pat”. To complete a
Phulkari work it requires around 50-100 gms of silk thread.
The darning stitch is the basic unit of Phulkari and the workmanship of both Bagh
and Phulkari are graded according to it’s length and density of stitches.
Types of Phulkari
Chope: A precious red coloured Phulkari prepared and presented by the maternal
grandmother of the bride at her wedding function. The triangular designs are embroidered
with golden yellow pat by double running stitch which appears identical on either sides of
the cloth.
Subha: Another rich, gorgeous, red coloured Phulkari work by the bride during her
Tilpatra: It is scarcely embroidered. Small, tiny embroidered dots in the body, of any
inferior and inexpensive khaddar.
Nilak: It is a Phulkari of blue colour. It is worked on black khaddar. The motifs
commonly embroidered are the articles used at household like comb, fan, umbrella or
rumaal and so on.
Darshana Dwar or Darwaza: This is a presentation of some of the religious institutions
offered during ceremonial functions.
Thirma: A Phulkari done on white khaddar.
Sainchi Phulkari: It is the folk embroidery of Malva region of Punjab depicts the true
rural life. The motifs depict the various activities of rural life like ploughing, harvesting,
a water carrier, and smoking hukka, pounding, grinding, churning, spinning and weaving
and so on.
Punjabi Phulkari motifs
The white embroidery on white cotton especially on muslins is known as chikan
work. Chikankari is an industry nurtured and developed in Lucknow. Daintiness and
delicacy added to a finish and a richness of its own, are the outstanding characteristics of
chikankari. It is also famous as shadow work.
Jasleen Dhaniya explains two stories. The princess of Murshidhabad, who was
professionally a seamstress and highly skilled in handwork, married to the Nawab. As a
token of love and affection the princess embroidered a beautiful head covering and
presented it to her Nawab. The Nawab was extremely pleased with the embroidered cap,
worked with fine cotton thread on Muslim cloth. The work women of Muslim household
stouting rear by were headdress of princess work. Then they began to produce finer and
delicate work than that of princess and that’s how the great art of chikankari took birth.
A craft man named Fauz Khan practical chikankari narrated that a farmer used.
Mohammed Shair Khan staying rear Luck now offered to a traveler to quench his thirst
and permitted him to rest at his residence. The traveler was very much impressed with the
hospitality of Mohammed Shair Khan and in turn taught him the art of chikankari. The
chikankari belive that the traveler was sent by Almighty of God.
A study of the origin of chikan reveals that this form of embroidery had come to
India from Persia with Noor Jehan, the queen of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. The word
chikan is a derivative from the Persian word 'chikaan' meaning drapery. Some, however,
insist that the craft migrated from Bengal. What we know is that chikankari came to
Oudh when Mughal power declined in Bengal and the artisans moved to the Oudh
durbars, seeking employment and patronage.
Chikankari is though done on the white muslin background now is done on fine
cotton material like voile, two x two ,cambric, mulmul, chiffon, georgettes, koil cotton,
organdy, nets and other similar sheer fabrics.
The motifs are traced prior to embroidery. The designs are prepared and
transferred on the cloth with help of wooden blocks with washable colour, by simple
stamping technique.
Chikankari is something like unity in diversity i.e.., it includes some simple
stitches like satin, back, and stem, buttonhole and herringbone stitch, giving a clustorious
effect which is simple, gentle and subtle.
The main flat stitches with their traditional names are:
Taipchi: Running stitch worked on the right side of the fabric. It is occasionally done
within parallel rows to fill petals and leaves in a motif, called ghaspatti. Sometimes
taipchi is used to make the bel buti all over the fabric. This is the simplest chikan stitch
and often serves as a basis for further embellishment. It resembles jamdani and is
considered the cheapest and the quickest stitch.
Pechni: Taipchi is sometime used as a base for working other variations and pechni is
one of them. Here the taipchi is covered by entwining the thread over it in a regular
manner to provide the effect of something like a lever spring and is always done on the
right side on the cloth.
Pashni: Taipchi is worked to outline a motif and then covered with minute vertical satin
stitches over about two threads and is used for fine finish on the inside of badla.
Bakhia: It is the most common stitch and is often referred to as shadow work. It is of two
(a) Ulta Bakhia: The floats lie on the reverse of the fabric underneath the motif. The
transparent muslin becomes opaque and provides a beautiful effect of light and shade.
(b) Sidhi Bakhia: Satin stitch with criss-crossing of individual threads. The floats of
thread lie on the surface of the fabric. This is used to fill the forms and there is no light or
shade effect.
Khatao, khatava or katava is cutwork or applique - more a technique than a stitch.
Gitti: A combination of buttonhole and long satin stitch, usually used to make a wheellike motif.
Jangira: Chain stitch usually used as outlines in combination with a line of pechni or
thick taipchi.
The bolder or knottier stitches include the following:
Murri: A very minute satin stitch in which a knot is formed over already outlined taipchi
Phanda: It is a smaller shortened form of murri. The knots are spherical and very small,
not pear shaped as in murri. This is a difficult stitch and requires very good
Jaalis: The jaalis or trellises that are created in chikankari are a unique speciality of this
craft. The holes are made by manipulation of the needle without cutting or drawing of
thread. The threads of the fabric are teased apart to make neat regular holes or jaalis. In
other centres where jaalis are done, the threads have to be drawn out. In chikankari, this
is not the case. Names of jaali techniques suggest the place where they originated from --Madrasi jaali or Bengali jaali ---- or possibly the place of demand for that particular jaali.
The basic manner in which jaalis are created is by pushing aside wrap and weft threads in
a fashion that minute openings are made in the cloth. Shape of openings and the stitches
used distinguish one jaali from another.
Chikankari work is done on sari borders, tiny buttas in the body of the sari,
blouses, kurtas, cuffs, jubbas, caps, table cloth, table mats, cushions, curtains and other
household linens. It is commercialized and had gained the foreign market.
Kairi motif used in Chikankari
Embroidery of Kutch:
Gujarat, the state situated in the western part of India, is famous for the
embroidery of Kutch and Kathaiwar. The peasant, tribal and ladies of other community
residing in the villages have maintained their tradition, culture and rich heritage through
various styles of embroideries, i.e. , it can be said here that greatest contribution to the
Indian embroidery is from Gujarat state, precisely from Kutch and Kathaiwar. However,
the beauty lies in the rich designs, variety of motifs and stitches.
This embroidery was introduced by “Kathi” the cattle breeders, who were
basically wonderers and brought about by Karna, the famous warrior of Mahabharat.
These wanderers collected and gathered themselves in a place, and contributed variety,
unique elements, patterns, themes, moods and techniques of needle work, which became
later an integral part of the embroidery of Gujarat. These wonderers worshipped Shiva
and Ganesh and used to embroider the idols in the small squares called “Sthapanas”.
The embroidery articles from Gujarat were world famous and exported to
European countries during 16th and 17th century. However there exists difference in the
embroidery of Kutch and Kathaiwar as a whole.
It is believed that the Kutch embroidery was taught to “Mochis”, the shoe makers
around 300 years ago by a Muslim Phakeer of Sindh. However, Kutch embroidery has
the foundation of various clans viz Ahris, Kanbis, Mochis, Rabaris.
Arhi bharat:
The primitive peasants of Saurashtra are known regionally as Arhis, experts in
mochi (cobbler) bharat, usually prepared decorative articles and surface enrichment of
their attires. It was totally a home craft, never attempted as a commercial trade. The
ladies of ahir families embroidered their traditional costumes during their off seasons.
Ahir is the hooked needle, with the help of which the embroidery was executed, appeared
exactly like chain stitch. The embroidery is not only skillful in stitching but talented in
developing designs, preparing pattern, drawing and tracing the same on the fabric.
The base material used was hand spun and hand woven coarse Khaddar on which
a series of loops leading to chain stitch using Arhi along with abundant application of
mirrors were observed. At present the embroidery is done on silk, or the locally
manufactured satin fabric or a silky satin fabric.
The hand work was done with colourful cotton thread on dark coloured Khaddar
in olden days but now use the silky untwisted floss (heer) or the twisted silken thread, on
choli, pajamas, jackets, bonnets, caps and other children’s garments. The craftsman later
introduced various colour schemes in the basic chain stitch to denote the stem, veins and
other subtler parts of the motifs, a chief characteristic of the embroidery. Birds, flowers,
creepers, foliages are some of the motifs, of them parrots, peacock, bulbul, human figure,
dancing doll, karanphool, the flower shaped ear-ring, are the main.
Kanbi Bharat:
Kanbis are basically the cultivators, migrated from Saurashtra; the women
communities engage themselves in the beautiful art of bharat and are known for their
patient work. It was cent percent home scale art where the kanbi women got together in
small groups and continue their work on household articles. The embroidery thread is
cotton of yellow, orange, green, white and purple colours. The basic stitches employed
are darning for out lining and herring bone for filling. The designs in Kanbi Bharat are
distinct and have the influence of Persian art. They use the similar motifs as others but
the specific ones are the sunflower, and kevada, the cactus flower. Kanbi folk are
religious, orthodox and believe in worshipping the domestic animals like bullocks, the
second lung of the cultivators. As a token of love and affection, kanbi women prepare
many beautiful articles for their domestic animals to decorate them during the festivals
and while taking the procession. The articles more frequently prepared are the rectangular
cover spread on the back of the bullock, conical covers, attractively tasseled to cover the
horns, gorgeously embroidered veils to cover the forehead, face and muzzle. The other
household articles like covers for wooden boxes, pataras, blankets and quilts, on which
elaborate embroidery of parrots, peacocks, various shapes of foliages, climbers, creepers,
tender twigs of mango are commonly observed.
Mochi Bharat:
Mochi is the community belonged to the artisan, cobbler or shoe maker, who used
a unique technique of preparing chappales and shoes, whose basic stitch has entered as a
popular Kutchi Bharat. It is similar Arhi bharat, where the thread is pulled from the
bottom to the top with the help of arhi, creating loops and the successive repetition leads
to a continuous line of chain stitch. On larger surface areas like household textiles, many
highly stylized flowers bushes, dancing doll, peacock, human figures are seen. Mochi
bharat though appears simple, needs thorough, continuous practice to achieve efficiency.
It is elaborate embroidery usually incorporated for filling work, thus time consuming.
The ground fabric in satin and articles embroidered are choli, ghagra, toran (door
decoration), chaklas (square wall hangings), and borders and so on.
Rabari Work:
Rabari belong to a Giri region, usually migrating from place to place. Their
embroidery is relatively effective, impressive and attractive, usually done on a hand –
spun, hand woven khaddar or khadi material of maroon colour. Rabaris used small piece
of cloth of various size, shape, to produce bold effect against a plain back ground .this
craft has no definite design, and it appears some what like appliqué work. Canopies, door
curtains, wall decorations and other household articles were prepared. The motifs
comprised of beautiful birds, floura, human figures and so on.
Motifs used in Kutch Work
The history of Kasuti dates back to the Chalukya period. Kasuti is a form of
embroidery that comes from the state of Karnataka in India. It resembles the embroidery
of Austria, Hungary and Spain. It is a domestic art that has now taken on commercial
forms. Kasuti means embroidery in Kannada, the language that is spoken in Karnataka.
Kasuti is also known as Kashida. The name Kasuti is derived from the words Kai
(meaning hand) and Suti (meaning cotton), indicating an activity that is done using cotton
and hands
The Chalukya dynasty played an important role in the revival of art, culture and
learning. They encouraged cults of lord Shiva and built temples all over the south; the
prominent among these are the cave temples of Badami, temples of Madurai, Thanjore
and Kanchipuram. The women who witnessed these building operations gave expression
to their artistic urge through some colorful artwork such as Kasuti. The women courtiers
in the Mysore Kingdom in the 17th century were expected to be adept in 64 arts, with
Kasuti being one of them. It is also said that the Lambani clan left their traditional home
of Rajasthan and settled down in Karnataka and brought the Kasuti craft along with them.
Sarees embroidered with Kasuti were expected to be a part of the bridal trousseau of
which one saree made of black silk with Kasuti embroidery called Chandrakali saree was
of premier importance.
Hindu motifs are predominant in kasuti, muslim influence is completely absent.
Factors influencing choice of motifs are religion, architecture and objects of daily use.
They are taken from gopuram (temple tops) lotus flower, palinquin, cradles, birds and
animals like- swans, peacocks, deer, swan, squirrels, elephants, nandi or sacred bull. One
rarely finds lions, tigers and horses, but dogs and cats are never seen.
Kasuti work involves embroidering very intricate patterns like gopura, chariot,
palanquin, lamps and conch shells. Locally available materials are used for Kasuti. The
pattern to be embroidered is first marked with charcoal or pencil and then proper needles
and thread are selected. The work is laborious and involves counting of each thread on
the cloth. The patterns are stitched without using knots to ensure that both sides of the
cloth look alike. Different varieties of stitches are employed to obtain the desired pattern.
The stitches used are:
Gavanti: a double running stitch, the name is derived from the word gaonti which means
knot. The design appears identical on both sides. Patterns are mostly geometric; stitches
are worked in vertical, horizontal or diagonal directions only.
Murgii: appears like steps of a ladder, the design appears same from both sides of the
fabric, the distance between two stitches is the same and looks quite like the gavanti.
Negi: this is an ordinary running or darning stitch, it has an all over effect of a woven
design. The name comes from the word “ney” which means to weave in Kannada.
Menthi; this is the regular cross stitch. The name is derived from the word ‘fenugreek
seeds’ in Kannada.
The threads used for embroidery were drawn from the fabric itself or they used
silk thread from Mysore.
Colors used predominantly are orange, purple, green and red, lemon yellow,
indigo etc.
It is mainly used on cotton material with silk thread. Silk material is also used, but
now organdy is mainly used. Synthetic blender and spun material is also used.
Black, blue, dark colours
Women embroidered sarees, bonnets, skirts and blouses.
Kantha embroidery is a popular type of craft created in the West Bengal region
of India and the neighbouring country of Bangladesh. It’s as popular as ever amongst
rural women who keep the traditions of this special craft alive. Kantha can be translated
as ‘patched cloth’ although in the ancient language of Sanskrit and with a slight spelling
variation, Kantha also means ‘rags’. To the people of Bengal, the word is associated with
‘embroidered quilt’
In many ways this quilting craft can rightfully be called a recycling art form. This
is due to the re-usability of this craft form where precious materials when worn or frayed,
are stitched into a different format and used in another way. Traditionally, Kantha
embroidery was created using soft dhotis (loin cloth) and saris. The thread that is used in
this process is taken from the borders of the used cloth.
Kantha embroidered cloth has a wide variety of uses. As would naturally be
assumed, women’s clothing such as shawls is a popular creation. Kantha can also be used
in the making of covers for such items as pillows, boxes and mirrors. In the modern age,
Kantha is used in the production of sarees, shirts, furnishings and bedding. Often, the
entire cloth is decorated with beautiful motifs portraying flowers, birds, animals,
geometric shapes and other cultural visions from daily life in West Bengal.
Kantha embroidery has a long history and is believed to have arisen with the way
Bengali women mended old clothes. They would take out strands of thread from the
borders of their colorful sarees and then create simple designs with them. The creations
were known by different titles depending on what the item they created was. These
names included Lepkantha and Sujni Kantha. Another simple fact for the development of
Kantha embroidery was to keep out the cold during the winter months in this northern
region of India.
There are in fact 7 forms of Kantha embroidery in West Bengal. These are as
Archilata Kantha ~ these are small and are used in the creation of covers such as found
for mirrors and various accessories. They have very colorful borders. These are used as
cover or wrap for comb and other such articles. It is a narrow rectangular piece of 8’’
wide and 12” length. It has a wide border and the central motif is taken from the scenes
from Krishna Lela. The lotus, tree, creepers inverted triangles, zigzag lines are also some
of the commonly used motif.
Baiton Kantha ~ in a square format and used for wrapping and covering items such as
books. They usually have very elaborate borders. It has a central motif usually the lotus
with up to 100 petals called “satadala padma”
Durjani/thalia ~ quilted wallets created from rectangular pieces of Kantha fabric. It has
the central lotus motif with elaborated border. The three corners of this piece are drawn
together and invert to make together like an envelope. It will have an another open flap in
which a string, tassels or a decorated thread is either stitched or mechanically fixed which
can be wound and tied up when rolled. The other motifs used are various types of snakes
and other objects taken from the natural surroundings.
Lep Kantha ~ these are heavily padded wraps in a rectangular format, used to make
quilts especially for the colder months, during winter. A wavy pattern is used in the
stitching and simple embroidery carried out on the completed quilt.
Oaar Kantha ~ Pillow covers. It is a rectangular piece whose size is about 2feet by
11/2feet.They have a simple design with a decorative border sewn on after completion
and the motifs are creepers, birds or linear designs.
Sujani Kantha ~ decorative quilts which are used as spreads and even blankets. This is a
relatively new form of Kantha embroidery which was started in the 18th Century, in
Bihar. These are used for religious ceremonies and rituals.
Rumal Kantha ~ Plate coverings and absorbent wipes for cleansing. In the centre is
featured a lotus with ornamented borders.
Kantha can also be used to describe a style of necklace that lies close to the throat
and is open at the back. This form of the word is spoken as an adjective and means
‘throat’. Lord Shiva in fact had the name Nilakanth which means in literal terms “blue
throat”. The connotation comes from the story of him swallowing poison which resulted
from the churning of the ocean.
The material used is Dacca muslin saris, old and discarded cotton saris and dhotis,
discarded cotton bed spreads.
The colours used are white, black, deep blue and red which symbolize the nature,
earth, sky and space respectively.
They start working traditional by running stitch to get quilting effect followed by
chain stitch later back, herring bone and satin.
Embroidery of Rajasthan brings new character and dimension to any article that
it graces. It is an ancient craft, which has changed over time to reflect the prevailing
social, material and sometimes even the political mood of the times. The needles on
The women of Rajasthan are expert in this field and can make very attractive
embroidery works on various clothes like in quilts, skirts (gharries), shawls, bed covers
The most particularly ornamented fabrics and articles found in Rajasthan are often
those for personal adornment. In Rajasthan, some form of embroidery invariably
embellishes the three garments worn by women, the kanchli, ghaghra and odhni.
Similarly men`s garments like the angarkha, achkan and jama also display certain
elements of embroidery. It is also used to beautify the household items, like bedspreads,
wall hangings and animal trappings. Where embroidery is done for domestic use, it is by
custom a feminine occupation. Rajasthani Men, traditionally, were involved in
embroideries like zardozi and danka. These crafts receive the patronage of royal families
Embroidery of Rajasthan brings new character and dimension to any article that it
graces. It is an ancient craft, which has changed over time to reflect the prevailing social,
material and sometimes even the political mood of the times. The needles on different
cloths do the `embroidery` work. The women are expert in this field and can make very
attractive embroidery works on various clothes like in quilts, skirts (gharries), shawls,
bed covers and in many more others.
Social threads of embroidery
As in many traditional societies, Rajasthani women lead somewhat restricted lives.
With the exception of a few pastoral and tribal communities, their interactions are usually
limited to the confines of their homes and villages. Embroidery, thus, becomes the
expression of a woman`s artistic temperament. In fact, activities focused within the
household have led to development of a variety of arts and crafts. Often leisure time
activities, after the daily chores are done, around the home, in the fields and any other
area that falls within their domain. It is then that the needles come out and ply busily until
Thus, embroidery of Rajasthan becomes the expression of girls, who usually never
learn to read or write. These young artists begin their training at the early age of seven or
eight, thus learning to create exquisite patterns on plain fabric. Initially working on
simple designs, they gradually master their skills, acquiring the daintiness and refinement
of accomplished needlewomen. They work as apprentices to their mothers and
grandmothers, sisters and aunts, who pass on to them designs, patterns and a heritage that
has evolved over the centuries. A wide variety of techniques are used in the embroidery
of costumes and textiles. Some of the popular styles are, among others, metal
embroidery, gota work, and sufbharat.
Embroideries of rajasthan can be grouped as Folk, Religious and court
1. Folk embroideriesAlso known as Bharat Kaan, means filling work. The main stitches employed in
folk embroideries are:
a. Mochi Bharat
Mochi Bhara is a chain stitch prevalent in Barmer district .The cobblers prepare
leather footwear by chain stitch and expertise in decorating these goods with
embroideries which gradually evolved into the textile decoration. Hand –spun and hand
woven khaddar is the base material for the articles. Coarser fabric is used for having
ghagras and cholies and finer and lighter variety for odhanies .The base colors were blue,
red and black. Green color is very rarely used as a base .Embroidery is worked with
either cotton or silk untwisted thread called ‘Pat’, dyed. The colour of the thread is
yellow, red, orange and purple were used in little quantities.
The needle used for Moch Bharat is Called Ari or Katharni, Which is very fine awl,
having a small notch just above the point to form hook.The main motifs come from bird,
animal and, floral kingdoms
b. Heer Bharat
Heer Bharat is embroidery where design is filled with thread work. This filling is
done either by button hole stitch or long and short (double satin) stitch.
The art is very much smillar of the embroidery of Kutch and Kathiawar on one
side and Haryana in the other. The Jats, the migratory tribe of central Asia (who came to
India) were responsible for developing this embroidery.This filling is done on Han-spun
hand woven as well as medium weight cotton and woolen clothes. The base colors are
blue red and a blend of both, brown. Embroidery is done with cotton woolen or untwisted
silk floss of various color combinations white, black, red, green yellow, blue, pink and
purple. Mirrors of various size and shapes are used with the Heer Bharat. Geometrical
c. Appliqué Work
Marwari community of Rajasthan traditionally engaged in Appliqué art. The work
is similar to the path work of Kathiawar the ‘Katab’.
For this mill made medium weight white cotton cloth forms the base on which
Patches of various tints ,shades ,sizes and shapes are arranged in a pictorial pattern later
trimmed, slip stitched ,whipped sometimes and finished with running stitch and button
hole. Now commercialized the art has been prevalent in Jaipur Udaipur and Barmer
d.Jaiselmer Applique work
The quilts made by patchwork known as ‘Ralli’are the traditional product of
Jaisalmer. The quilt is made by sewing several layers of old fabrics,where the upper most
layer being made of new cotton cloth.
The colors used for patch work are olive green, brown, maroon and black. The
corners are decorated with tassels of either cotton or silk and Sequins called ‘Phuladi’
.Naval cholies, saddle cloth, bed spreads, cushion covers and purses are some of the
products decorated by Jaisalmer Appliqué art.
e. Moti Bharat
Moti bharat is an art of Jalor district of Rajasthan. This work is not done on the
fabric. The opaque white beads form the base on which the transparent beads are worked
by stringing them together in various shapes and forms of birds, animals, human figures
and other articles of day to day life,
Traditionally blue, green yellow and red colored beads were commonly used.
Now wide range of coloured beads is available locally for the craftsmen to make use of.
Stylized human figures, geometrical designs, glimpses of daily life, horse and camel
riders, elephant with haudha, horse with carriage, the famous love legend of local hero
Dhola and his lover Maru are the designs repeatedly used. Various articles like, Purse,
cap, toran. Play articles, cradle decoration, showpieces are prepared by Moti Bhat.
f. The sujani work
The sujani work of eastern Rajasthan is of a very fine quality and is inspired by the
original suzani art of Biihar and Kanth of Bengal. An old cloth is folded three or four
times and stitched together and new cloth is then attached over it for doing chain and
running stitch embroidery of creepers and flowers, and sometimes of sakhi or peacock
design. The sujani style of embroidery is used for winter wear, also especially for making
sadaris (jackets). Embroidery is also done in south Rajasthan where chain-stitch on
leather has gained a name for itself. In earlier times, this work was done on scabbards,
shield-cushions, and on covers for gun-powder bags
Different communities of Rajasthan have their own style of embroidery. Some of
them are:
g. Meo Embroidery
The Meos of Alwar has again their unique style of embroidering a rich pattern with
chain stitch in contrasting colours and the body is roofed with the `phulkar bagh` stich.
Dancing figures, Flowers and peacocks are the favorite motifs. The base material is
Khaddar, handspun & hand woven and the embroidery is generally done on long skirts
locally called Ghagras and mantles or odhanis.
The main stitches used are chain and darning and thread employed is silk floss.the
background is worked with darning stitches with golden yellow color and the motifs are
worked in either white or black colors by chain stitch .green ,red and purple color are
sparsely used.
Uniqueness of Meo embroidery lies in the balanced effect of geometrical forms
with circular movements. The swirling effect is produced by using darn stitch along with
chain stitch.The embroidery is done on dresses, footwear, cloak draped over the oxen and
so on.
2. Religious embroidery
a. Pichwai embroidery
In the temples of Rajasthan, a cloth hanging named the `pichwai of Nathdwara` can
be found, which is also very nicely embroidered. In some cases, the embroidery is done
with golden threads to highlight the design. Generally, the pichwai has red cotton
background and the stitches are in cream, green, yellow and black, while the white colour
is used for the outlines. The motifs of tree, birds and animals are generally embroidered
on their skirts (ghagras).
The traditional pichwai is done on colored cotton ,satin or velvet varied seaso
wise,as such summer and winter respectively.The motifs are wide variety picked up from
nature ,animals,like cows,calves,fish,birds like parrot.peocock,garda.fruits like
kalka,flowers like lotus and above all human ganesh,hanuman,Surya.The traditional
Pichwai has Shree nath ji with his dark blue face surrounded by his play mates ,cows
under ever green tree.this colorfull embroidery has black outline. Some times gold and
silver threads are alwys use to rnglighten the structural unit oh the motif.The pilgrims get
Pichwai orderd where the devotee himself gives out line of the design and the actual
embroidery is done by Mochi,Gold and silver workers.Darker shades like green &
red,red,green orange and yellow are commonly made of.
In few case Pichwai are also made of Applique work,where the basic material is
inveiably red in color,whte cord for emphasizing out line and cream,green, yellow and
black in needlie work.
b. Jain embroidery
Jain occupies the main trading population of Rajasthan where Jain temples at
Dilwara and rankpur are very famous.The orign of the jain embroidery goes back
sixteenth century.
The base material being Satin & blue red or violet in color some time the rich
looking soft velvet is also used. Basic stitches comprised of stem, satin and chain and
worked with silk floss of blue, green, yellow and white colors, along with little
combination of silver thread, to add to the luster.
The basic concept of jain Philosophy has been pictured on these articles along with
floral motifs ,the main ones are Mandala, depicts jain beliefs& shows different parts in
heaven where various gods and goddesses live, Adivipa are representation of cosmology,
which depicts universe, as the mangla or astha mangalika implies at suspicious projects,
related to eight jain Tirhankers. There was great influence of court embroideries during
eighteenth and nineteenth century which is evident on some of the article where human
figures have been dressed similar to court people.
3. Court embroidery
This style of embroidery starts with the Mugals and spreaded to the courts of
various states like Rajasthan where Jaipur and Jodhpur.
a. Gota Work
The metal embroidery of Rajasthan is known as Gotta work. The embroiderers of
Jaipur, Bikaner, Ajmer, Udaipur and Kota are world famous for their uniquely styled gota
work. Gota is a band of gold or silver ribbon of that varies with width, woven in a satin
weave. The gold embroidery of Jaipur, known as gota-work, is intricate.
In Real Gota, Silver & Gold metals are used. But in routine, the base metal is
copper, coated by Silver etc. Now the copper has been replaced by Polyester film which
is metalized & coated as per requirements. This has resulted in better quality at lower
cost. This Plastic Gota (as it is popularly known) has good resistance to moisture & does
not tarnish as compared to metal-based Gota.
The raw material comprised of a yarn of silver polished with gold and passed
under 10 Calendars to make into fine strand called "Kasab" and further drawn under a
calendar to give it a flattened effect known as "Badla". The motifs used are animals,
birds, flowers and human figures.
b. Zardozi or Zari work
Zardozi or Zari or kalabattu is an embroidery work done in metal wires. Jaipur,
Ajmer, Tonk and Jodhpur are important centres for zari work in Rajasthan. Zardozi is a
more elaborate version of zari which involves the use of gold threads, spangles, beads,
seed pearls, wire, gota and kinari.The art of this embroidery is mostly passed on from
father to son where certain skills are taught with utmost secrecy.
The fabric on which the work has to be done is first mounted on a wooden frame
called adda, which bears a close resemblance to the Indian charpai or bed. The chhapai or
tracing of the design to be embroidered is then transferred on the fabric with neel or chalk
powder. Then the embroidered starts.
We can broadly categories the zari handwork in four categories (a) Dapka (b)
Salma or nakshi (c) Arri work (d) Badla work
Dapka is a very detailed type of needle work which is done after the fabric has
been put on the adda and chhapai is completed.
At least three to four worker workers are required for a detailed and fine work at
the same time on the same piece. First a thick cotton cord is stitched on the pattern to be
embroidered. Then on this cord prefabricated zari thread is looped on with an ordinary
stitching needle. The patterns mostly made are of flowers, leaves, or the national bird of
India – the Peacock.
Salma or nakshi
Salma or nakshi is cheaper than dapka and considered slightly less exquisite than
dapka by some. But a wedding skirt or lehanga or odhani or mantle cannot be complete
without nakshi as it shines much more than dapka. Nakshi puts life in the art work. This
form of embroidery is also done by using prefabricated golden thread on the chhapai.
At first the design is traced on the material with the help of oil and ink. The work
commences from exterior to interior that is the outline of the motif is worked with the
twisted metallic wire gigai, followed by filling with twisted circular metallic wire, the
Salma. For fixing the accessories, back, running, chain, couching stitching stitch is
employed. Meenakari the enamel effect is bought about combining Salma work with
appliqué and other hand stitchery, which is an exclusive work of menfolk. The motif s
comprised of either floral or geometrical and are popular with distinctive names like
Ganga-jamuna(blend of gold and silver thread),jamavar(overall elaborate trellised
pattern)Bel(trellised border), Hazar butas (fine work with glittering thousands
butties),Katao kibel(scalloped trellis borde)and so on.
Arri work
Arri work is a more delicate form of embroidery. It is done with both colored and
golden thread. The thread is put on the tip of a pen-like needle which is passed through
the cloth giving chain-stitch-like impressions.
Badla work
In this work, metal ingots are melted and pressed through perforated steel sheets
to convert into wires. They are then hammered to the required thinness. Plain wire is
called badla, and when wound round a thread, it is called kasav. Smaller spangles are
called sitara and tiny dots made of badla are called mukaish.
Rajasthan is also popular for `karchobi`, a form of zari metallic thread embroidery
done with needle. This kind of embroidery is done by flat stitches on cotton stuffing and
can be found on bridal and formal costumes. This is also seen on velvet coverings,
curtains, tent hangings and the coverings of animal carts and temple chariots
1. EXPLAIN BRIEFLY ABOUT THE Traditional embroideries of India –
Origin, Embroidery stitches, types and colours of fabric /thread used
– embroidery of Kashmir ,
– Phulkari of Punjab ,
Gujarat -Kutch and Kathiawar,
embroidery of Rajasthan ,
Kasuti of Karnataka ,
Chickenwork of Lucknow,
Kantha of Bengal
Study collections