Clothes in Vedic Times

The garments worn in Vedic times onwards did not fundamentally differ from those worn by Hindus in later times. A single length cloth draped around the body, over the shoulders and fastened with a pin or a belt. This was a comfortable dress to be worn in a hot and humid climate which prevailed in India in comparison to the weather from where these people migrated.

Lower garment was called paridhana or vasana. It was usually such a cloth fastened around the waist with a belt or a string which is called mekhala or rasana. Upper garment was called Uttaiya and worn like a shawl over the shoulders. This upper garment was usually discarded at home or in hot weather especially by the people belonging to lower strata. Third garment called pravara was worn in cold season like cloak or a mantle.

This was general garb of both sexes and varied only in size and in the manner of wearing. Of poor people, sometimes the lower garment was a mere loincloth, but of rich was up to feet. In many sculptures, the lower cloth is pleated in front and held with a long girdle. Sometimes the girdle appears to the end of cloth itself. This might have been the precursor of the modern sari. Sometimes the end of the cloth was drawn between the legs and fastened at the back in the manner of dhoti.

Stitching was not unknown as is evident from the depiction of women in jackets and bodices. Invasion of Sakas and Kushanas from Central Asia led to the introduction of trousers at least in the upper classes in the Gupta times. In fact, Kushana kings have been shown in the coins and a headless statue of Kanishka wearing long quilted coats, trousers and boots of typically Central Asian style.

Clothes used for preparing these clothes varied from wool worn in North India in winters, diaphanous silks and muslins which were transparent and showed the limbs of the wearers. Clothes were often dyed or otherwise patterned with gay stripes and checks.

Foot wears were generally worn to protect the feet from scorching heat of earth in Indian summers.

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8 thoughts on “Clothes in Vedic Times

  1. Satyajeet says:

    Hello Ranjit,
    Nice article and one of the few with correct information for the topic.
    Thanks for article.

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