Traditional clothing/jewelry of Rajasthanis

topic posted Fri, May 16, 2008 - 10:57 PM by  Theresi
I found this nice article, I don't have time to read it all, I am tired after 12 hours in my store today. I got in at 8am and checked out at 8pm. Anyway, this article goes over traditional clothing/jewelries of the Rajasthanis. The original article can be found at:

In Rajasthan, you are what you wear! The clothes, jewellery, type of turbans and footwear, establish one’s identity and social status.

Traditionally men wear a turban or pagari on their heads, an upper garment called angarakha and a dhoti or pyjama for the lower part of the body. The turban is the most important part of a man's attire. A turban reflects a person’s caste and region in the way it is coloured, tied or styled.
The Udaipur pagari is flat, Jaipur pagari angular and the bands in Jodhpuri safa are slightly curved.

Tying a pagari is a specialised art. As the proverb goes, "a raga in music, taste in food and knots in a pagari are rare accomplishments." Pagari shops keep specially trained people for tying perfect pagaris on their customers. Professional tiers do booming business in the marriage season when most people turn out in traditional costumes.

Angarakha, a derivation from Sanskrit angrakshak or body protector, is prevalent throughout Rajasthan. People wear angarakha made of locally manufactured clothes. Tie and dye or printed angarahka are reserved for special occasions while cotton is used for daily wear. Angarakhas come in a variety of styles. The two main variations kamari angarakha, (a frock that runs up to the waist) and the other reaching below the knees.

Dhotis or pyjamas are worn to cover the lower part of the body. The dhoti is a 4 meter by one meter cotton cloth usually in white. Silk dhotis with zari borders are also in vogue, especially on festive occasions.

A waistband called cummerbund or patka was a part of the medieval upper class costume. The peasant class did not wear a patka but they did have a piece of cotton fabric measuring one and half meter long and about a meter wide to put on their shoulders. Brahmins traditionally put dupattas on their shoulders. The patka served two purposes; it girded up the loins and was also used to tuck in the weapons. It assumed a decorative form in the late 18th century. By the 20th century manufacture of the patka almost ceased, as it was no longer in use. TOP^

Rajasthani women wear colourful skirts called ghaghara, blouses or tops called kurti - kanchali and an odhani to cover their heads. Ghaghara is worn around the waist and runs up to the ankles. The skirt is kept narrow at the waist by tiny pleats that open up and swirl into a wide umbrella at the base. The length is short enough for foot ornaments to be visible.

Traditionally the ghagharas were not wide skirts but by the 19th century it grew wider and wider until the number of pleats meant the measure of one's prosperity. The skirt is not folded at the lower end but a broad coloured fabric known as sinjaf is sewn underneath. Ghagaras come in many styles. Cotton ghagaras, dyed or printed are most popular. Like the pagari, fabric for ghaghara is also dyed in laharia, mothra and chunari styles.

Peasant women wear printed cotton ghagharas while mali and other agricultural classes wear ghaghara embroidered with artificial silver zari. Among village folk cotton ghagharas woven in black and red horizontal stripes are also popular. A ghaghara is heavily decorated if made to wear on festive occasions having appliqué work with silk or embroidered with salma sitara, kalabattn (gold thread) and silk. Sometimes a decorated border prepared separately is stitched on the lower edge of the ghaghara, while small floral motifs are stitched on the body.

Broad lappa - a lace made of gold or silver flattened wire as weft and cotton warp - is also used as border. In this case the ground of the ghaghara is decorated with gota or gokharu, sometimes a narrow gota is stitched on the joints of the gussets. Gota is highly popular in Rajasthan. Kurti, a long sleeveless blouse coming up to the waist and kanchali (a short blouse with sleeves) together make an upper garment with ghaghara. In Rajasthan they have a custom that unmarried girls wear one piece blouse and kurti; kanchali is worn separately only after marriage. TOP^

The odhani is cotton cloth 2.5 to 3 meters in length and 1.5 to 2 meters in width. The odhani acts like a veil for women. After drawing it over the head, the odhani reaches below the waist. One end of the odhani is tucked in the ghaghara belt and the other end hangs gracefully towards the lower body. From the tucked end, the odhani is stretched round the head to fall below the right shoulder or it is again tucked in the ghaghara belt at the waist. Thus the other end also covers the body on the front side hanging from or passing across the right shoulder. Daily wear odhanis are made of cotton voile, dyed or printed and decorated with an edging of gota or kinari. But for special festive occasions, the odhanis are dyed in various colours and costly borders or gota are stitched on the edges.

In Rajasthan, leather shoes have been worn since very old times. Sand heats up fast during summer, therefore both men and women use mojaris (leather shoes), made with camel, goat or sheep skin. Camel leather is very soft and a pair of shoes made from it can be used only inside the house while goat and sheepskin shoes are quite strong. The shoes are often embroidered. Sometimes, intricate embroidery is done on velvet or brocade and then the piece is pasted on the outer part of the shoes. Though shoes are made all over Rajasthan, but jutties (shoes) of Jailer Jodhpur in west Bhilwara in the South and Ramjipura and Jobre in the Eastern part of the State are well known all over. Though the life style of Rajasthan is changing fast these dresses are still very popular, even young people wear them on festive occasions.

Rajasthanis are very fond of jewellery. The wealthy class wears gold ornaments studded with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, while the others wear chunky silver ornaments. There are ornaments for the neck, hands, fingers, toes, waist, nose, ears, head, ankles, hair and even the arms. Jaipur is famed for producing exquisite gold ornaments as well as beautiful costume jewellery. An entire market, Johari Bazar at Jaipur is dedicated to making jewellery.

Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, the founder of Jaipur, was a great lover of precious stones. He brought in skilled jewellers to settle in his new capital. This brought goldsmiths, jadia stone setters, enamellers and other craftsmen associated with this trade. Precious stones, diamonds and emeralds were set in ornaments and sometimes in the hilts of daggers of kings and nobles.

Ornaments signify a person’s social and marital status. They are popular with both men and women. Men usually wear an earring or a pair of studs and a gold chain or string of pearls around their neck, depending on their personal taste and economic status. A wealthy merchant may select a moti mala (string of pearls) with three strings while a peasant from rural area will be happy with his silver hansli (a kind of thick bracelet for the neck). TOP^

Rajasthani women wear a variety of ornaments. Women from wealthy families wear gold ornaments often enamelled and studded, while peasant women wear silver jewellery with moulded and embossed designs. A married woman will always wear a Rakhadi, an ornament worn on the forehead, jhala or earrings in the ears, and bajuband or armband. They wear broad ivory or bone bangles called chudas, which cover their entire arm. Rich women wear ivory bangles embellished with gold and precious and semi-precious stones, while others wear coloured and painted bangles.

Women of Gayari, Mina and Bhil tribal communities used to wear only brass ornaments made by a community called Bharawa. Jewellery weighing 25kg was given by the bridegroom to his spouse as a dowry, but this tradition is disappearing very fast. Now days, Bhil, Mina and Gayari women also wear silver or white metal jewellery.

Rabaris of Sirohi region and Raikas of Jodhpur wear heavy silver jewellery, often studded with inexpensive glass pieces. These have charming patterns based on sun, moon, flowers, seeds and leaves found in the region. Besides metal jewellery, Rajasthan is also proficient in the art of making lac jewellery. The jewellery is often decorated with small glass pieces. In southern Rajasthan, women wear bangles made of coconut shell which have a silver strip set in a groove in the centre.

Enjoy all!
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SF Bay Area