Costumes of Jammu and Kashmir - Informative & researched article on Costumes of Jammu and Kashmir
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Costumes of Jammu and Kashmir
Costumes of Jammu and Kashmir reflect the tradition of the state and are attuned to the prevailing climatic conditions. The costumes have beautiful embroidery works.
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 Costumes of Jammu and KashmirCostumes of Jammu and Kashmir are well known for their embroidery and intricate designs, which reflect the richness of the culture and landscape of the region. Their clothing is designed to counter the cold climate of the region. It has been historically seen that the early Aryan descendants who lived in this region, interacted with various prosperous civilisations like the famous Greeks, the Romans and the Persians. Such influences on its cultural ethos and traditions coupled with the climatic factors find a reflection in the attires of its people. Most of the garments are made of wool, silk and cotton designed with intricate embroideries. The traditional Pheran is the most popular form of dress among both men and women. Pheran exhibits a lot of beautiful embroidery work comprising of floral motifs.

Costumes of Jammu and Kashmir for Men
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. Pheran is a loosely fitted woollen garment which makes use of the Kangri. Kangri is an earthen vessel which is filled with flaming coal and is placed within a container made of natural fibre. The Kangri is usually placed in the front, skilfully 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 popular among men, especially in Srinagar. Turbans are common among Muslim men. Skull caps are prevalent, especially among the peasants and the Karakuli and fur skull caps with the Pashmina shawls worn by men often symbolise 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 on both sides of the fabric uniformly. 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 of Jammu and Kashmir for Women
Pheran is the prominent attire for Kashmiri women as well. Traditionally, there are Poots and Pherans, comprising two robes that are placed atop the other. Pheran worn by women usually has Zari embroidery on the hem line, around pockets and mostly on the collar area. Pherans worn by the Muslim women are traditionally characterised 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 Lungi. The Hindu women wear a headdress called Taranga, stitched to a suspended cap and it narrows down at the back, towards the heels. Taranga is an integral part of the wedding attire among Hindus. Elaborate Zari embroideries or floral patterns around the neck and the pockets are prominent features of a Muslim woman's Pheran. Brocade patterns adorn their long sleeves.

Pheran is accompanied by red headgears known as Kasaba. Kasaba is stitched in the form of a turban and is pinned together by ornaments and silver brooches. A pin-scarf suspended from Kasaba descends towards the shoulder. It is worn by Muslim women as a part of their regular attire. Abaya is another common attire 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.

Costumes of Jammu and Kashmir Kashmiri Accessories for Women
The intricate patterns of women 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 Muslim women and they adorn themselves with neckpieces, bracelets and heavily bejewelled 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 Pandits.

Costumes of Ethnic Groups of Jammu and Kashmir
The landscape of Jammu and Kashmir is dotted with various ethnic groups:

Dogras are tribes residing amidst the hilly topography of Jammu. The Dogra womenfolk are found attired in fitted pajamas and tunics accessorised with a suitable head-dress. 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 elderly people of Dogra tribe.

Gujjar community is the second-largest group of ethnic tribes inhabiting in Kashmir. The members of this tribe are mostly shepherds. 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.

Costumes of Ladakh
Costumes of the inhabitants of Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir deserve special mention because of their extraordinary variety. Kuntops are woollen gowns worn by women. It is accompanied by Bok, a brightly decorated shawl that can aid in carrying packages and even children. 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 m 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 multi-hued caps while the women adorn turquoise coloured 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, known as Papu, are also quite popular.

It has been observed that over the years, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have adopted the dressing styles and habits of the west as well as those of other regional Indian cultures. This is noticed primarily among the men who have appropriated the western attire to a great extent. The saree gained popularity among the Hindu women after the 1930s Reform Movement. However, despite of these influences, the traditional Pheran continues to remain the symbol of the culture and couture of Jammu and Kashmir.

(Last Updated on : 24/06/2013)
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