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Home > Indian Traditional Costumes > East India > Orissa
Orissa Traditional Costume

Orissa is the only state that showcases Indias wealth in its splendid temples, shrines, glistening golden beaches and crowing architecture, sculptures and other diverse arts and crafts. Orissa, India is known for its ethnic and traditional handcrafted items, be it clothes, rugs or decorative items. The Tourism industry gets a major boost because of these art forms as people come from far and wide to simply watch these amazingly skillful artisans at work while they create these handcrafted items. If one plans to visit any hilly area in Orissa, then good woolen clothing is recommended in winters.

OrissaOdissi dance costume
Odissi is the traditional dance of Orissa. The costume is similar to that of traditional Bharathanatyam costume. Light cottons in summer and light woolens in winter.. Odissi dance attire like other Indian Classical dance has a stitched costume (pyjama style) made out of the special Orissa handloom sarees. The sarees have their special borders and intricate designs that sets them apart from other sarees. Earlier, there were no stitched costumes but only the sarees used to be draped around. But over a period of time, the stitched costume has been used more frequently because of its convenience.

Orissa is recognized in India for its handlooms, especially the Orissa saris (six yard material draped around as clothing for Indian women). The saris usually have bright eye-catching color combinations, such as the ones you see displayed in the titles, banners and borders above, and different patterns, animals, etc repeated over the length of the saris. The state is also known for the intricate silver filigree jewellery. In Odissi dance, both the sari and jewellery are showcased in the attire.

Originally, the Orissa saris were draped around the dancers in a specific manner for the costume. However, due to time constraints and for greater ease and neatness, costumes are now stitched in that specific manner, so that the dancers could easily change into different costumes during a program. In Orissa there are many different designs and motifs woven in cotton and silk to create the distinctive saris of Orissa - Bomkai, Teliarumaal, Sambalpuri which are cherished by women in India.

Hand loomsHand looms
Orissa is a thickly tribal inhabited state, consisting of sixty two tribes living in different parts of the state - in the highlands, forests, valleys and in the foot hills. Each tribal community has separate mode of living and they differ significantly in their dress. To the tribals, dress is a cultural need and it is also a part of their tradition.

Among the tribals the use of dress is very significant and worthwhile. The tribals do not use dress just merely to hide their nakedness rather it reflects the racial feeling and their cultural identity. The tribals use separate costumes at the time of festivals and ceremonies. In a specific tribe the dresses from birth to old age has immense variety.

The costumes of the male members of the tribe and the females are also different. It is a fact that the female community pay more attention in covering their body. In some tribal communities the women folk want their male partners to be dressed elegantly and impressively. A tribal woman also wears a variety of dresses from her birth to death corresponding to different stages of her life. For instance, a Dhangedi (a maiden) adorns with fine clothes to attract the attention of others while the Gurumai, the priestess wears formal clothes to worship the goddess for the betterment of her community. Dress also helps them in many adversities and also helps to propitiate gods and goddesses who safeguard them against the malevolent atrocities of the ghosts, spirits, etc.

tribal communities The tribals also use dress according to the position of individual in the society like the clan`s head, the priest, and the revenue collector etc. The dress that they use at the time of marriage, birth, death, worship etc. are also different. They use dresses keeping in view the occasion, age, sex and other factors.

Different tribal communities use different kind of dresses, differing in their colour and size. Their dresses are designed keeping in view their necessity and their surrounding. The socio-cultural and the religious views of the tribals slightly contribute for the variety in their dresses. There are several tribes like the Bondo and Gadaba who weave their own clothes. While the other tribes purchase their dress from another community or the neighbouring Damas or Panas. These people manufacture the costumes of a specific tribe and sell them in the weekly village market. Sometimes these weavers are being paid in cash or in kind in the form of agricultural products.

The tribal costumes are very simple and it provides immense comfort to the wearer. Generally, in the Kandha community the Dongria Kandha, the Kutia Kandha and the Desia Kandha, Lanjia Saora and the Santhals depend on other communities (non-tribal artisans) for their clothes. Lanjia Saora and some other tribal community make threads by themselves and give it to the Damas to weave for them. And again they purchase that cloth from the Damas by cash or kind. While the Bondo and the Didayi, the Gadabas weave their own clothes though the Dangrias purchase the cloth from the neighbouring Damas. They knit fine needle work on it and use it.

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