Costumes of Rajasthan - Informative & researched article on Costumes of Rajasthan
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Costumes of Rajasthan
Costumes of Rajasthan are stunning and graceful depicting the typical Rajasthani culture and designs.
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 Costumes of RajasthanCostumes of Rajasthan are exceptionally lively, reflecting the spirit of the people and the culture of the region. The beautifully designed 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 Rajasthan are designed keeping in mind the climate and conditions in which they live.

Rajasthani Costumes For Men
The Pagri (turban), Angarkha, Dhoti, Pyjamas, Kamarbandh or Patka (waistband) form an integral part of a Rajasthani male's attire.

The turban or pagri is a significant piece of costume. The style of the turban with its colour and the way in which it is worn holds a stature 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 Pagris, 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 Pagri, while Pagris of the people of Jaipur are angular. The Safa worn by the men of Jodhpur has the clear cut distinction of having slightly curved bands. In Rajasthan about 1000 different types of Pagris 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 are occasions of celebration and festivities in the region, people can be seen wearing printed Angarkhas of popular tie and dye method. The two principal kinds of Angarkhas which are common to Rajasthanis are, Kamari Angarkha and the long Angarkha. While the former type is styled like a frock and reaches till the waist the latter is longer and goes beyond the knees.

Costumes of Rajasthan Dhoti or Pyjama
Dhotis or Pyjamas are used to cover the lower part of the body. A dhoti is a piece of cloth which measures 4m by 1m and requires quite a bit of practice to be worn properly. The Dhotis are used as regular wears which are usually white in colour. However on special occasions people also wear silk Dhotis with zari border.

Patka was a garment worn by people of upper classes and royal families made out of cotton cloth which measured about 1.5 m by 1 m. It was traditionally kept on the shoulders or worn around the waist to tuck in the weapons during medieval times. However it is no longer in use and has become out of date, though one can still see Brahminswho wears traditional dupattas on their shoulders.

With changing times, the traditional style of dressing has also undergone a sea 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 up together. Providing comfort and utility, they even preserve the cultural identity as well. Synthetic fabrics that are easily available, durable, requiring low 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 had enhanced this transformation of Rajasthani costumes.

Costumes of Rajasthan for Women
The Rajasthani female's attire includes Ghaghra (long skirt), Kurti or Choli (tops and blouses respectively) and Odhni. Most of the Rajasthani women wear the Ghagra which is a long skirt that reaches up to the ankle having 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 Ghaghra 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.

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 Muslim 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.

Nowadays, 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.

Royal Costumes of Rajasthan
Royal costumes in Rajasthan reflect the regal taste of the aristocratic hierarchy. 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. 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. Consequently they dressed up in their most colourful and formal best. Richly brocaded material from Varanasi 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.

Footwear of Rajasthan
The shoes, created from sheep, goat or camel skin are known as Jootis or Mojaris. The shoes, for men and women, are crafted with delicate embroidery upon brocade or velvet, pasted on the exterior surface of the shoe.

Accessories of Rajasthan
The jewelleries of Rajasthan are uniquely styled and embellished with emeralds, diamonds and other precious stones. Amongst men, earrings, paired with gold chain or a pearl necklace or silver Hansli, a thick bracelet worn around the neck, is common.

The tribal women of Bhil, Gayari and Meena wear various types of jewellery as well. Earlier they used to wear brass jewellery, but now use silver or white metal ornaments. The women of Raikas of Jodhpur and Rabaris of Sirohi adorn themselves with silver jewellery. A variety of designs based on natural elements like flowers, leaves, sun, moon etc are portrayed on the accessories. Jewellery made of Lac, embroidered with glass pieces is also common.

The changes ushered in by modernisation were felt even in the costume trends of the Rajasthani people. The influence of television, cinema, magazines, newspapers and most importantly migration and urbanization have contributed to the modifications in traditional costume. As a result, the popular culture that prevails in Rajasthan has undergone a significant change. However, traditional garments are still extensively worn in Rajasthan and the change has merged harmoniously with tradition.

(Last Updated on : 26/02/2013)
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