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Menswear in India, Mughal dynasty (1526–1857)

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Video transcript:

Welcome back to my channel, friend!

I’m Phu, founder of Aventail.

In today’s video, I’ll introduce you to the menswear system in India Mughal dynasty (1526–1857), which is the one of the greatest imperial India dynasty in history.

So, please adjust your time machine accordingly, the time is 1526, the place is Kabul, Afghanistan, and we will disguise as local traders. Enjoy the ride!

  • Brief history about Mughal dynasty in India

Mughal dynasty is the result of a multi generations conquest of Babur and his descendants. Babur is a Central Asian ruler, descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan. The Mughal had diplomatic tie to Safavid Iran, weapon from Ottoman, trading relationship with European companies. As such, they were able to defeat other much larger Indian states and conquered most of India subcontinent. Under the Mughal, India became the richest country in the world, once accounted for 25% world industrial output, 95% British import from Asia. Largest industry included textile and shipbuilding, which as you can guess, lead to an abundant of clothes and accessories. Like all other empires, Mughal didn’t last forever. Many factors contributed to Mughal’s decline: financial deficit, war, weather, religious conflict, class conflict, the ruling class forgot themselves in luxury and abandoned governing tasks. The empire reduced in size, then existed only in name, then were finally removed by the British.

  • Mughal men’s wear

In Mughal period, all other traditional men’s wear from previous eras were continued to be worn. This video only covers men’s wear that appeared during this period. The Mughal initially used Iran and Mongol clothes. But the thick and heavy costume weren’t suitable for the hot Indian weather. They eventually adopt some element from Hindi clothes into use. Some notable items:

  • Jama: a side-fastening frock coat with tight-fitting bodice, nipped-in waist and flared skirt, reaching the knees
  • Yalek: A long under-tunic reaching to the floor, usually with short sleeves or sleeveless.
  • Paijama: a pant with drawstring fastening. Ancestor of modern pyjama
  • Churidar: Paijama cut on the bias, much longer than the leg, so that folds fall at the ankle.
  • Shalwar: A triangularly cut paijama with a quilted band at the ankle (poncha).
  • Patka: Around the waist of the Jama, a long piece of fine fabric was tied like a sash. This was the Patka, from which a jeweled sword could be suspended. Patkas were hand-woven with complex designs, or embroidered, or hand-painted or printed. Many made for royalty showed textile craftmanship at its best
  • Footwear

Many shoes came from Iran styles. Some of the types as follow

  • Jhooti: Ornamented shoes with turned up toes.
  • Kafsh/Khusa: shoe worn by nobles and kings
  • Charhvan/ Nagras: shoe with a curling tongue fixed to the toe
  • Salim Shahi: shoe decorated in gold
  • Khurd Nau: very lightweight shoe, made of kid leather

Lucknow, a large city in northern India, was most famous for its footwear in Mughal times, and the art of Aughi, embroidery on leather and velvet footwear, was very popular.

  • Headwear
  • Pagri: turban, a universal headwear for both Muslims and Hindus. In India a turban proclaims status, religion, caste and family. To submit your turban is a sign of total submission. When a man dies, his turban is tied on the head of his eldest son, to signify taking the responsibility of the family. Mughals tied their turbans, then added decoration by way of bejeweled bans, pin jewelry or other ornamentation.

Caps: Caps worn were heavily ornamented and in a variety of styles.

  • Chau-goshia: cap made in four segments
  • Qubbedar/taqiyah: dome-shaped cap
  • Kashiti Numa: boat-shaped cap
  • Dupalli: small narrow cap with front and back points
  • Nukka Dar: cap for nobles, heavily embroidered
  • Mandil: cap usually black velvet embroidered with gold or silver thread
  • Headdress and grooming

With their head always covered in turban, it’s not certain if men in Mughal period shaved their head or just cut their hair short. About facial hair, one thing is certain is the Mughal were very proud of their moustache, maybe dated back all the way to Iran 300BC. Men may have shaved their facial hair clean, but the moustaches were kept intact. The practice continued to today.

  • Accessories and jewelry

Ornaments were worn not only for the purpose of attracting the attention of others around but also as a distinctive mark of status, rank and dignity. Most of the traveler agreed that ornaments were the very joy of their hearts. Different types of head ornaments, ear ornaments, nose ornaments, necklaces, hand ornaments, waist belts and ankle/foot ornaments were used in the Mughal Empire.

  • Clothes material

Fabrics of the time included wild goat’s hair cloth (tus) and pashmina, light and warm wool. Silks were often embroidered with gold and silver thread and embellished with laces. Any and all of these cloths were regularly scented with rose water. Shawls were reportedly so thin they could pass through a finger ring.

Muslin, a cotton fabric of plain weave, was hand woven in the region around Dhaka, Bengal (now Bangladesh), and exported to Europe, the Middle East, and other markets, for much of the 17th and 18th centuries. The various muslins had poetic names like ab-i-rawan, meaning “running water”, and daft hawa, meaning “woven air”. Some of these garments would wear out after a single use.

  • Conclusion

I hope through this video, you can have an overview of menswear in India Mughal dynasty. I’m making this video not as an insider but an outsider trying to understand, If I have incorrect information, feel free to comment down below.

On an unrelated note, can you see this beautiful belt?

Aventail belt is a holeless size adjustable belt made of full grain vegetable tanned leather. You can watch the belt introduction video link in the description.

Have a nice day and see you in the next video!

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