Thirumalayampalayam department of costume design and fashion study material

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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 Ladakh.

  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.



UNIT : 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 non-formal 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 back-tuck. 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 convenience.
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 (non-tribal 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 eye-catching. 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 hair-partitioning 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 Mehendi-designs (a kind of tattooing, done with colors fetched from herbal product like, amla or shikakai).
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 times.

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 parts- straight 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 Dickchu.
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.

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