Jama is perhaps more Mughal in its style and has possessed the generic North Indian name. The local name for a garment, less flamboyant, but of a similar cut and construction is the baga. The jama has a tight fitting bodice, high-waist and a flared-skirt, which can vary from knee to ankle length. It is an open-fronted garment with one panel crossed over the other on the front, to be tied at the side just below the right or left armpit rather than the usual opening down in the middle. It is kept in place by tie-cords, which hold back the inner panel on the inside at the waist or armpit.
Similarly, there are tie cords on the outside that are attached to the front cross panel. It is worth noting that strings or tie-cords known as kasa were the usual device for tying the jama or angarkha. The hidden tie-cords are simple and practical but the visible ones are heavily ornamented and attractive. In Rajasthan, the jama was made of a variety of fabrics like fine cotton, silk, wool or brocade. Used by the aristocracy, lengths of fabric were specially woven, printed and embroidered to create the jama. Various kinds of floral designs were often scattered profusely over the bodice. References to the jama are found in plethora in paintings, photographs and museum collections.
The use of the jama in Rajasthan remained limited to a section of society, which may be additional proof that it was not native. Surviving Mughal and Rajput paintings show that the jama was worn in a variety of styles. Perhaps, two of the most popular were the chakdar jama and the gherdar jama. The chakdar jama had hanging, narrowing ends of the sort that one sees in many Mughal paintings, while the latter had an even, round hemline and tended to be full. Until the late sixteenth century, the takauchiya jama as the chakdar jama was also known, was a court-dress.
Although verification of the chakdar jama with cuts and flared panels is found before the Mughal rule, it is difficult to be completely certain of the difference between a jama and an angarkha or angarkhi, because no detailed information on the cut or use of these garments has survived. One has to rely on graphic depictions and oral records in order to distinguish them. Some scholars are of the view that the two terms apply to the same garment and are used interchangeably: the first basically Persian in origin, and the second, with its Indian roots. However, if the unique features of these garments are highlighted-the term jama may be used for those garments that are 'Mughal' in cut, being tied close to the armpit at the right or the left, while the word angarkha' may be set aside for garments that have a chest opening covered by an inner flap or parda and are attached at the waist. Both garments have a similar length and flare of the skirt.
The dress used by Ger dancers and the Bhopa, wandering minstrels who worship Pabuji, is called a baga. The baga has a wide skirt with panels on the side and an overlapping bodice. The bodice is joined to the skirt by a seam at the waist. The bagatri and bagalbandi are also garments akin to the baga and jama in this region. The jama is still worn, though with some variation in some areas of Rajasthan, especially near Udaipur. The lengths of these frock coats varied from court to court. In Rajasthan, a long jama that covered the feet and trailed the floor was considered to be very fashionable from the eighteenth century onwards and replaced the earlier knee-length style.
(Last Updated on : 29-03-2010)
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