Indian clothing is an old as the ancient Harappa and Mohenjodaro Civilisation. This was the very first time when the fabric of cotton was spun and woven, since historical records bear testimony to the fact the cotton industry flourished greatly during this period. Rock paintings in Ellora and other places prove the popularity of dhoti and saree as regular garments of India. Indian upper castes used to be clad in fine muslin attires, along with gold ornaments. Existence of silk fibres belonging to Harappan Age portrays the presence of silk production during that time. Indians used to be clad in unstitched costume, which was generally a three-piece, during the regime of the Mauryas and the Guptas. The 'antariya', which was made from muslin or white cloth was tied to the waist with the aide of a sash termed as 'kayabandh'. A scarf referred to as 'uttariya' was utilized to cover the upper portion of the body.
Various kinds of weaving processes were used in India, most of which have survived till date. Some of the renowned weaving styles were the 'kasika vastra' of Varanasi, 'Jamdani', 'butidar' and 'Ilkal saree'. Persian designs were adopted by Indian clothing which involved brocades of silk interwoven with silver and golden threads. Paisley and 'latifa buti' are instances of Mughal influence in Indian costumes. Kalamkari and resist dyeing were popular techniques with which Indian garments were embellished in olden days. Kashmiri shawls, including Pashmina and Shahtoosh were in high demand throughout Indian history. Woollen textiles used to be worn ever since the age of the Vedas. Kashmiri shawls known as 'Jamovar' and 'Kanika Jamovar', which utilized coloured threads called 'kani' were quite favourable. Printed calicos, muslins, chintz and patterned silk manufactured in India were immensely popular in English markets. Khadi and Khadi products were used all over India, especially during the Swadeshi movement following the Partition of Bengal.
Gyanadanandini Devi, the wife of Satyendranath Tagore invented the modern manner of draping saree. The womenfolk of Tagore household refused to wear Western outfits, therefore decided to impart a classical or modernized appeal to the Indian saree. So, despite wearing just a single one-piece saree, she introduced the blouse and 'shameez' to accompany the attire of the saree. The modern method of wearing the saree, therefore was actually discovered by this lady. Sarees can be draped in innovative styles over the bodies if Indian women and was born as early as the Aryan period. Nowadays, Indian ladies are constantly experimenting with new manners of wrapping this long piece of Indian cloth. The 'choli' or blouse has also undergone transformations with time. Today, traditional cholis are replaced by tube tops, halters and numerous other types of blouses which are popular among Indian womenfolk.
Dhotis form a standard Indian costume, which have been worn by Indian men since ancient times. Turbans were utilized to accompany these dhotis which usually covered the legs and were tucked to the waist, after passing it between the legs. Though dhotis are seldom used as modern Indian attire, they still rule several fashion ramps and design houses. 'Churidars' and salwar kameez were introduced in the country, possibly by the Mughals, though these costumes were believed to be influenced by Persian fashion. Salwars are basically loose trousers, which possess a wide variety of stitching styles, patterns and colours. These dresses complimented the long tunics called kameez which evolved into various types of fashionable, contemporary garments of India.
Gold jewelleries are eternal favourites of Indians as this precious metal is considered to bring good luck and purify which comes in its contact. Gold was utilized even in the Indus Valley Civilizations. Indian ladies are fond of decorating their hair with flowers, beautiful hair clips and other accessories. 'Bindi', which originated as a red dot on the forehead and was worn only by married Indian women, has metamorphosed into modern fashion trends and is worn even by unmarried ladies in this country. 'Kajal' or other forms of eye makeup also forms a significant portion of Indian costumes which have evolved, ever since ancient periods.
Contemporary Indian costumes involve shirts, trousers, jeans, sherwanis, kurta-pyjamas, tees, sarees, salwar kameez, 'lehengas' or 'ghaghara cholis', fancy tops and innumerable other types of attires. Indian costumes are diverse, attractive and differ according to the region, cultural traditions and numerous types of local festive or social occasions. Today globalization has influenced the style of a majority of Indian costumes, which have donned a cosmopolitan appearance, texture and attitude. Western trends are visible in different Indian outfits like salwar kameez, saree, kurta-pyjama, dhoti, lungi, sherwani, headgear and several other types of indigenous costumes of the country.
(Last Updated on : 22-07-2013)
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