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Ancient India Fashion

People in Ancient India had a diversity of their choices of clothing. They were some civilisations that did not see materialistic value in dressing up and they took the more conservative approach while there were others that wore flashier jewelry or bright colourful clothing as a representation of their position in their caste system. Clothing or fashion did not take a 360 degree change but instead their traditional clothing were all just tweaked to make small changes that represented the place they came from.

First, I'll begin in the Indus Valley Civilisation, clothing was seen more as a convenience and nudity was acceptable if they chose to go bare. People did not have to wear clothes if they did not see the need for it. There is not much evidence that can be found regarding the fashion of women in the Indus Valley Civilisation but artefacts have been found that show how women dressed then. These artefacts came in the form of clay seals and terraotta figures. The women in these figures were dressed in multi coloured robes, jewelry made of gold precious stones and some could even be seen wearing lipstick. Women wore a cloth that was made of cotton or cotton cloths draped across and around their body. The wrapping could be done in a few ways and the most common one that we know today is called the sari

In the Maurya and Gupta period the people in this period wore three piece unstitched clothing called the: Antariya, Kayabandh and UttariyaAntariya, was the main garment of the outfit. It was a bottom that could be worn by both men and women. It was unfastened and stopped mid calve. Kayabandh, often tied in a looped knot at the center front of the waist fastened by a sash. Lastly,the Uttariya is another longs scarf used to drape on the top half of the body. The material used is usually of cotton or fine silk.



Women in these period could also wore gold ornaments if they were from the upper castes.

In the Gupta period, stitching then became more popular. Choli was one popular garment that was popular among women. The Choli is a blouse top that is backless with an apron as it was commonly worn for dancing. As for the bottoms, they wore a garment called the Gagri and it is another name for drawstring skirt. It is described as a skirt with small pleats all around the waist and the gagri is said to be about 4-6ft in length.

A gold sequinned Choli

Lastly in the Mungal Period, women wore a variety of beautiful and expensive of ornaments from head to toe. Their costumes generally included outfits created out of cotton, silk or lace clothand there was a variety of them called: Peshwaz, Yalek, Pa-jama, Shalwar and the Garara. Their outfits included head ornaments, anklets, necklaces and even headdresses. They even wore extensive embroidered footwear The women in the Gupta period dressed as a representation of their rank and how prosperous they were in society.


(Peshwaz, Yalek)

Peshwaz, It is a long and non fitting robe that is usually worn high-waisted pants and long sleeves. Yalek, A long under-tunic reaching to the floor, usually shortleeved.


(Shalwar, Garara)

Shalwar as pictured above is what they call a pai-jama that is cut triangularly and then quilted with a band at the ankle which can be worn by either men or women. Garara, another kind woman's pai-jama cut loose to the knee and adding gathers and can be worn for special occasions by adding more embellishments. (my personal favourite) 

I thought it would be interesting to find out how fashion evolved through the different Civilizations in ancient india. However, it seems that they did not have any drastic change throughout the years and they stuck to what they familiar with but modified all the little details about their traditional clothing. I am surprised and happy to discover how clothing could look similar when you first look at them but they are many parts that make an outfit and they can be modified in many ways. I was only familiar with the Sari because that was what everyone in school wore for Racial Harmony Day back in Secondary School but after researching about how clothing or fashion changed in ancient india I am glad to know how exquisite and unique every outfit could be.