Costumes of the Ancient Times in Bangladesh

The fame of the garments made in Bangladesh is all over the world. Bangladeshi clothes found in almost every shop in Europe and America. The tag reads Made in Bangladesh. There is no end to our pride in that. Moreover, the main sector of our exports is also the garment industry which acts as the driving force of the economy. But if we look at the history, we can see that Bangladesh has been famous all over the world since ancient times. In this article I will discuss ancient costumes in Bangladesh.

It is well known that in the early days of creation, people used animal skins, bird feathers, tree bark and leaves as wearables. However, thoughtful and varied people like to decorate themselves beautifully. All the nations of the world have created an identity of their own style of dress in keeping with the climate, language, culture and history of their respective regions. Bangladesh is located in the south-eastern part of Asia. The climate of the country is fairly warm, humid and temperate. That is why the people of this country usually use more light weight cotton cloth. Bangladesh was ruled by Hindu kings, Mughal kings, Muslim Nawabs and the British at different times in the past. As a result, the local climate, culture and various political influences are more prevalent in the clothing of the people of this country.

The common dress of the Bengalis was a seamless garment. Sewing clothes are imported from North West India. But that is much later. Men wear dhoti, girls wear sari. When the social and financial condition improved, a piece of cloth was used on the body. In the early thirteenth century, men wore dhoti and fatwa. The girls wore a piece of cloth from waist to toe and a blouse and veil over the upper part of the body. They used to work hard to cover this veil. However, in the middle and lower classes, usually one cloth was enough and they used to work in the area with sweat. The dhoti was much shorter than it is now. The width was up to the knees.

The style of wearing saree in the ancient of Bangladesh
Fig: The style of wearing saree in the ancient of Bangladesh

Women dress in almost the same way. However, the clothes were hanging up to the soles of the feet. In the fashion of that time, almost the whole cloth had to be wrapped around the waist. It was not a matter of covering the upper part of the body with the hem. However, elite or bondage girls used to cover the upper part of the body with a veil. In the 7th and 8th centuries, designs of flowers, herbs, etc. were introduced in cloth, which came from western India. There was a special dress for special occasions then. The dancers wore tight pajamas from the waist to the ankles, and a large veil. Saints, monks and poor workers, soldiers and wrestlers read to their knees. Children are wearing knee-length dhoti or tight pyjamas. Bangladesh was famous for its fine cotton and silk fabrics. But these were for the aristocracy. The foreheads of the common poor were covered with torn and worn out cotton cloth.

ancient time blouse of bangladesh
Fig: Ancient time blouse of Bangladesh
ancient time petticoat of bangladesh
Fig: Ancient time petticoat of Bangladesh

Men and women all wore jewellery around their necks and ears. The girls adorned themselves with Alta, Sidur, Kumkum, Mehedi etc. Sweat on the head or the obligation to wear a hat has never been in Bengali history. Long curly hair on head; Curly hair hung loosely over his shoulders. Some of them put splinters on their heads again. The girls wore long hair tied up in a bun, and some of them leaned back on their necks, just like they do now. Soldiers and guards wear leather shoes that cover the ankles. However, ordinary people do not use shoes. The rich use wooden footwear (wooden footwear or clogs).

Married women used the tip of kajal on the forehead, wearing kal in eyebrow, vermilion on the scalp and lips, lacquer on the feet, sandalwood powder and sandalwood bantam on the body and face and saffron. Wealthy married women bathe in the evening and decorate themselves with decorative ornaments. The girls of the village did not like the decorations of the girls of the city. There was also a system of social punishment if village girls tried to imitate urbanites. However, the girls of the village also wear the tip of Kajal on their foreheads; the married women wear white shells of conch shells, earrings in their ears and perfume oil in their hair.

wearing kajal
Fig: Wearing kajal in eyebrow

Over time, the style of dress and the design of clothing changed a lot. Later Bengali women started wearing sari with a patch. The girls of rich families wore long sleeved fringed blouses with sarees. Over time, the style of dress and the design of clothing changed a lot. Later Bengali women started wearing sari with a patch. The girls of rich families wore long sleeved fringed blouses with sarees. The women of middle class family wear saris over long shirts. Later, the famous muslin cloth of Dhaka gained special fame in Europe from the first century. Moreover, the aristocratic women loved to wear those clothes.

ancient costume of Bangladesh
Fig: Bengali women in the early 1860s — Photo British Library Board

Besides, rich families of Bangladesh used muslin cloth. Muslin cloth made in Dhaka was world famous at that time. Apart from muslin cloth, Jamdani saree made in Dhaka gained a lot of fame in the country and abroad. Based on the clothes and features of the past, various historical-social changes have gradually formed in the form of today’s diverse Bangladeshi-Bengali fashion. Bangladesh became independent on 16 December 1971. After independence, the political, social and economic conditions of the country changed rapidly. The cultural values ​​of the Bengalis were reawakened and its effect was also seen in the field of clothing.

References:

  1. Bastro o Poshak Shilpo by Prof. Hasina Ara Begum
  2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothing_in_the_ancient_world
  3. https://www.daily-sun.com/arcprint/details/302810/Evolution-of-Bengali-Costumes/2018-04-18
  4. https://www.thedailystar.net/in-focus/news/costumes-and-ornaments-reflected-ancient-bengal-sculpture-1803697
  5. https://www.thedailystar.net/lifestyle/fashion-through-the-years-bangladesh-1355911
  6. https://www.banglanews24.com/feature/news/bd/81642.details

Author of this Article:
Nazifa Tabassum
B.Sc. in Clothing and Textile
College of Home Economics, Dhaka
Email: nazifa.099@gmail.com

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