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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Matrimonial

 
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Kashmiri Pandit Costume

Literary and archaeological evidence shows that in ancient and medieval times the costume of the Kashmiri male consisted essentially of a lower

garment, an upper garment and a turban. If Kashmiri sculpture is any guide, men as well as women wore a long tunic and trousers, probably due to Kushana influence. According to Hieun Tsang, they dressed themselves in leather doublets and clothes of white linen. In winter, however they covered their body with a warm cloak which the Nilamata Purana calls Pravarana. The rich among them were also draped in fine woollen shawls while the ordinary people had to rest content with cheaper woollen articles like the coarse sthulkambala.

The use of different kinds of turbans known as ushneek or shirahshata was widely prevalent. Strange though it may seen, the dress of a woman in early Kashmir consisted mainly of sari and tailored jackets or blouses. She is also shown wearing a long flowing tunic and trousers. It was fashion for both men and women to braid their hair in different styles, wearing sometimes tassels of varied colours.

It is, therefore, difficult to say how long back in tradition does the present attire of Kashmiri Pandit males and females go. Of course, in early Kashmir men and women both were fond of adorning them selves with ornaments. They wore rings in the fingers, gold necklaces, ear rings, armlets and wristlets and even amulets. The women also wore anklets, bracelets, pearl-necklaces, pendants on the forehead and golden strings at the end of the locks ( a forerunner of the attahor perhaps). One thing is certain, the traditional dress of Kashmiri Pandits underwent a definite change after the advent of Islam. Today the following articles compose their attire:

A. Pheran
The long flowing dress called the pheran-pravarna of the Nilamata Purana is traditionally worn by both Pandit males and females. The dress is always worn in a pair, the underlayer called potsh, being of light white cotton. In case of women, the pheran has wide sleeves, overturned and fringed with brocaded or embroidered stripes. Similar long stripes of red borders are attached around the chest- open collars (quarterway down the front of shoulders and all along the skirt. A loongy, or a coloured sash was tied round the waist.

The traditional male garment is always plain and has narrow sleeves and a leftside breast-open collar with a kind of lapel or lace emerging from it.

B. Women's Headgear: Taranga
Taranga or the female headgear is reminiscent of the racial fusion of the Aryans and Nagas to which the Nilamata Purana has referred. It symbolizes the decorative hood of the crelestial serpent (nag) with a flowing serpentine body tapering into a double tail almost reaching the heels of the wearer. It is composed of the following parts:

Taranga - The elements for composition of the Headgear:

a) Kalaposh - the cap, a conic shape of decorative brocade or silken embroidery, attached with a wide and round band of Pashmina in crimson, vermilion or scarlet. The conic shape would cover the crown and the band would be shortened threefold around the forehead.

b) Zoojy - a delicate net-work cloth topped by embroidery motifs, and worn over the crown of kalaposh and tapering flowing down to the small of the back.

c) Taranga - it comprises of three narrow and continuous wraps over and around the head, the final round having moharlath, starched and glazed over with an agate-stone, crystal or a soft giant shell.

d) Poots - the two long lengths of fine white muslin hemmed together longitudinally with a "fish spine" pattern. Lengthwise, then the whole piece is rolled and wrapped inwards from both sides so as to form the long bodies of a pair of snakes with a pair of tapering tails at the lower end and a hood at the other end (top) to open up and cover the apex of the headgear while flowing down over the back almost touching the heels.

C. Men's Headgear:
The turban is the traditional headgear of the Kashmiri Pandit males, though its use is very restricted now. This turban is not much different from the turban the Muslims wear except that the Pandits do not wear any scalp cap inside. The priest class among the Pandits would wear their turbans in almost the Namdhari Sikh style.

Reproduced from:
Unmesh
An NSKRI Publication

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