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Home > Indian Traditional Costumes > North India > Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir Traditional Costume

Jammu and KashmirWhat makes Jammu and Kashmir`s costumes and attires different from the rest of India is because of the blend of three distinct cultural backgrounds. Filled with greener pastures the dressing in the region of Kashmir becomes more colourful with exquisite embroidered work that accompanies their clothes, especially the shawls and Pherans, which are embroidered with intricate patterns of multihued threadwork. Up above in Ladakh , the dressing sense is having a trans-Himalayan influence in it. One can check the true colours of this barren cold desert in the festive seasons when the ceremonial attires just astound the spectators. Kashmiri Muslims used to wear the pheran, a long loose gown hanging down below the knees, a white turban tied on a skull cap, a close-fitting shalwar and lace less shoes called gurgabi. A white piece of material is hung on their shoulders like a stole. Hindu men wear churidar pyjama instead of shalwar. The less affluent Muslims wear skull caps, which looks cute and does not carry any shawl.

Kashmir Dress
Dresses for Men & Women:
Pheran & Poots

A Similar Way of Dressing
For many years Kashmiri men and women have worn the same style of dress. The Pheran and `Poots` consist of two gowns, one on top of the other, falling to the feet in the case of a Hindu, worn up to the knees by a Muslim. Muslims wear the sleeves wide and open; Hindus wear them narrow with turned up ends.

Traditionally there was a brightly coloured design on the outside, with Yak or goatskin on the inside to keep the wearer warm. This has now been changed by fashion to a simple ornament of brightly coloured material, although in winter many women still wear the goatskin for warmth.

Kashmiri women are among the most beautiful in India. They have "an English rosiness of Kashmiri womencomplexion behind the Eastern tan". The colour of their hair ranges from golden red to brunette and that of eyes from green, blue, grey to black. Besides being boats-women and farmers, the women of Kashmir lend a hand to their men-folk at shawl making, embroidery and other handicrafts.

The women wear the pheran, the voluminous Kashmiri gown, hemmed with a border and hanging in awkward folds. The long, loose pheran covers their physique no doubt, but does not blunt their physical appeal. Whereas a Muslim womans pheran is knee-length, loose and embroidered in front and on the edges, a Hindu womans pheran touches her feet. For the sake of smartness and ease it is tied at the waist with folded material called lhungi. The long loose sleeves are fashionably decorated with brocade. With this type of Hindu costume goes the head-dress called taranga, which is tied to a hanging bonnet and tapers down to the heels from behind.

The folds of the taranga are made of brightly-pressed lines fastened to a pointed red-coloured and brocaded skull cap with a few gold pins at the sides. Over the head and ears are pieces of muslin embroidered in gold thread . The younger Hindu women, however have taken to the sari, after the reform movement of the thirties. Even then, on the wedding day they have to wear the taranga ceremonially. It is covered with the palav of the brides wedding sari. Taranga, thus stays as part of the bridal trousseau.

Unlike a Hindu woman`s pheran, which gives her a Roman look, the Muslim woman`s pheran is beautifully embroidered in front. Their head gear, the Kasaba, looks very different from the taranga. It is red in colour, tied turban-like and held tight by an abundance of silver pins and trinkets. It has an overhanging pin-scarf which falls grace fully over the shoulders. A work-a-day shalwar goes with it. Unmarried Muslim girls wear skullcaps, embroidered with gold thread and embellished with silver pendants, trinkets and amulets.

With the passage of years, an appreciable change has come about in the dress of the Kashmiri women. Saris, shalwar-kameez, churidars and jeans are becoming popular, yet none of these belong to them as much as the good old pheran.

GujjarsThe hill people of Kashmir, called Gujjars.The dress of a Gujjar woman of the hills in the valley is very much similar to that worn by the Turkish village women. It consists of as ample shalwar and full-skirted tunic with loose sleeves. A thick veil on the head falls back to the shoulders. The Gujjar woman knit their hair in multiple plaits, which hang in front, covering half of their moon-shaped faces.

Diverse castes and sects inhabit Jammu province. The Dogras inhabiting the hilly tract bounding the mountains of the Kashmir valley on the south and extending to the plains of the Punjab, are descended from Aryan stock generally dressed in grey woolens and loose pyjamas, they also flaunt a kamarband. Women wear long, loose tunics, close-fitting chudidars and dupatta or cap to complete their charming ensemble.

Ladakh is a part of the state Jammu and Kashmir.Ladakh is known as the `land of the Lamas` and the Buddhist of Ladakh prefer to call their religion Lamaism - which is much the same as Mahayana (or Great vehicle) form of Buddhism.Ladakhi men wear long, grey, woolen gowns fringed with sheep-skin and tied at the waist with girdles of blue colour, multi-coloured velvet caps, fringed with black fur earlaps. Their women wear colourful clothes. Their special turquoise-studded headgear called Perak, is made of red cloth or goat skin and hangs up to the forehead and tapers down to the waist at the back. Brooches of turquoise and other semi-precious stones embellish their headgear, bangles and ear ornaments.

Ladakhi Dress
Dresses For Men:
Dresses For Women: Kuntop & The Bok

Men`s Wear
Men traditionally wear thick woollen robe called "Goucha", fastened at the neck, under the armpit and tied at the waist with a colourful sash known as a "Skerag". The Skerag is about two metres long and 20 cm wide, wound round and round and tucked in. In this sash men carry the small essentials of Ladakhi life.

Women`s Wear
The women wear a similar robe called a "Kuntop" but on their backs they add a colourful shawl, the "Bok" - in which a baby or parcels can easily be carried. It used to be worn for warmth and a protection on the back against heavy loads of sticks and rocks.

Punjab Jammu and Kashmir Rajasthan
Uttar Pradesh Bihar
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