Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ancient Clothing of India


Indian costumes during ancient times have been extensively talked about in a number of literary works. The culture and diverse religions also played a big role in ancient Indian attires. Sources of literature show that in old times people were very concerned about their clothing in India. They used to pick unique garments made of quality materials. This states that how much they were choosy about their clothing selection.



Main Indian costumes in ancient times were wrapped around the waist. Vedic literature depicts a good idea about the ancient clothing in India. Rig Veda consists of various terms for garments such as andpratidhi, kurlra and adhivastra. Adhivastra means a veil, kurlra denotes to a head-dress and lastly andpratidhi means any part of women’s costume. Wool and linen also used to make costumes. Vedas also states the usages of gold ornaments. Rukma and Niska were some of the popular gold ornaments for the ear and the neck.

Indian Clothing in Vedic Age

Atharva Veda states that garment commonly consists of a chest-cover, an outer cover and an inner cover. Andpratidhi and kurlra were in texts of Rig Veda while tirlta, nivi, kumba, upavasana, usnlsa and vavri can be found in Atharva Veda. They indicate upper garment, veil and underwear, and the remaining 3 denote the types of head-dress. Kambala (blanket) and updnaha (footwear) are also available in Atharva Veda. Apart from, wool and linen, silk was extensively used as one of the top garment materials. Mani (a type of jewel) is also in the texts of Vedas as a beautiful ornament. Cosmetics were also used extensively as decorating materials. Different types of medicines were in used to avoid baldness.

Clothing in Brahmana Era

During Brahmana era, people were concerned a lot about their dresses and adornments. Weaving, sewing and knitting were popular. Garments were commonly designed by silk, cotton and wool. The garment comprised of 3 parts, under garment, outer garment and the main garment. Some Brahmanas like Shatapatha extensively used silver and gold ornaments. Beautiful necklaces were also used by Shatapatha Brahmana. Such necklaces were mainly made of pearls and gold. The ancient Indian tribes were so enthusiastic about jewelleries. 

Clothing in Sutra Age

During Sutra Age, different types of garments were worn made of bark, cotton, silk, wool, hemp, flax and animal skin. Kauseya and Ksauma words were used to signify the garments made of silk and linen. On special occasions, mostly men used to wear usnisa (a traditional turban). Adhivdsa was used to signify an upper garment. An outer cover or wrapper was called as Prdvarana. Sewing and weaving were very trendy.

Clothing in Puranas Age

Materials used to make garments in Puranas Age were linen, cotton, wool and silk. Puranic texts mentioned that hairs of men were shaved completely. At times they used to keep a tuft. Dishevelled and long hairs were not preferable. As per the Indian Puranas, most common head-dresses worn by the people were mukuta and usnisa. Popular ornaments of that time were ahgada and keyura.

Pali works show the clothing commonly for Buddhist people. Dhammapada denotes to those who were wearing yellow robes with beautiful stones made ear. Literary sources mention that costumes of ancient India were colourful and diverse.

Clothing in Epic Age


There are many references of epic age in India, mainly epic Mahabharata and Ramayana. In Ramayana, several references to garments mainly glittering robes can be seen. Elders used to wear 2 pieces of garment, 1 upper and other lower garment called as uttariya and vastra, respectively. Women also like adorn themselves with adhovastra and uttariya. Tailor (tunnavdya) and needle (sucl) were the symbol of sewn clothes. Sartorial was also on a high demand. Turbans or usnlsas and jackets and kancukas were worn mainly by solders and servants. This type of headgear was also worn by the women of Raksasa tribe. It can be found in leather and wooden sandals.

Ornament of Ancient India

Main ornaments include earring or Kundala, necklace or hara, ring or ahgullyaka, and bracelet or hastabharana. Kundala were two kinds of that are vadamstrd and karnavesta. Bracelets and necklaces were worn extensively by both males and females. In Ramayana era, these necklaces were prevalent niska, maid hiranmayi and graiveyaka.