Origins of Salwar Kameez - A Tale of Ethnicity Retold in Fabric

Published: 08th October 2009
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Amidst its royal grandeur, enigmatic feel and feminine charm salwar kemeez breathes the sighs of history. With its roots deeply seated in the antiquities of medieval India, the origin of Salwar Kameez still carries the rich sartorial chronicle amidst its fall, stitch, luster and feel.

In the hinter lands of Central Asia, which was then under the domination of Iranian and Turkish people; Salwar kameez as an expression of Indian ethnicity made its presence felt for the very first time. The general habit of the Iranian and Turkish people were putting in baggy trousers whilst drawing it tight with strings. Research says that this pattern was indeed the progenitor of today's salwar kameez. Thus this era actually states the origin of salwar kameez.

The salwar is basically a loose trouser, which narrows down a bit towards the bottom. However the Iranian and Turkish concept of fastening it with string later was largely replaced by the concept of elastic belt. On the other hand the kameez is more like a long shirt or tunic like apparel, which is further adorned by a dupatta.

Not only in Central Asia, origin of salwar kameez unveils the fact that, even the court nobles of the Qajar and Ottoman dynasty preserved salwar kameez as their court attire. However in India the style of salwar kameez was imported as an immediate effect of Muslim invasion, back in the 12th century. The Turko Iranian regime and then followed by the Mughal regime in India established the Iranian fashion of Indian salwar kameez while offering it a typical Mughal overtone. Hence it won't be an overstatement to say that it was the Mughal Dynasty, which upheld the tradition of royal ethnicity amidst the feminine charm of Indian salwar kameez. The tale of ethnicity, which originated in India with the Mughals later gained a remarkable dimension with the popularity of the attire.

North India, especially Punjab greeted Salwar kameez with an added enthusiasm and within no time salwar kameez with dupatta became the emblem of Punjabi fashion. Liked for its archetypal comfort friendly aspect Salwar kameez had by then established itself more than being just traditional attire. There are many styles in Salwar Kameez in today's era.

What initiated as just a court costume gradually broke the boundaries of court rooms and perfumed palaces while reaching the mass, appealing them by its sheer graceful majesty and feminine eloquence. The journey was long, yet rich. Consequently, what followed are a series of styles and designs, varied materials and patterns to suit the changing taste of India. Not only Punjab, but whole of India embraced various styles in Salwar Kameez as one of the decent, dramatic and indeed royal apparel to silhouette the enigmatic brilliance of a woman.

Unlike any other Indian dress, salwar kameez has transformed over time. With its pristine origin hinting at the Mughal courtroom this dress is almost synonymous with the Indian National dress along with the sari.

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