Chadar

This man wears a heavy brown wool chadar over his shoulders and arms, most likely for warmth.

Reproduced by permission of © Lindsay HebberdJCORBIS.

This man wears a heavy brown wool chadar over his shoulders and arms, most likely for warmth.

Reproduced by permission of © Lindsay HebberdJCORBIS.

Body Decoration

The chadar, also spelled chador or chadoor, is a multipurpose garment worn by many people in India since before the third century c.e. Indians and others living in countries of the Middle East continue to wear the chadar to this day. Though the size, shape, and color of the chadar vary somewhat in different cultures, it is basically a large scarf, about three yards long and one yard wide, or larger. Both men and women use the chadar as a shawl or wrap for protection from the weather, for modesty, and for religious purposes. Some chadars have decorative or fringed edges.

The chadar is a common accessory in desert countries like Afghanistan, where it is often wrapped around the body, head, and face for protection from sand and dust storms. In less harsh weather, men usually wear the chadar around the shoulders, like a shawl. Women in Muslim societies are often required to cover themselves more modestly than men, and they wear the chadar over their heads as well, holding an end between their teeth when they wish to cover their faces. Some women wrap the chadar tightly around their neck and head to form a sort of headdress that may cover all or part of the face. The abundant fabric of the

chadar is useful for many purposes. A mother may wrap her baby in one end of the scarf and use it to cover them both while she breastfeeds. Ends of the chadar may also be used to tie small bundles to make them easy to carry. Some women's chadars are large enough to cover the wearer from head to toe, similar to the long burka also worn by Muslim women.

The chadar also has religious and ceremonial purposes. The color and designs used in the fabric often have religious significance. Many Muslim men use the chadar to wrap themselves or kneel upon it for prayer, and a large version is often used to wrap around the dead before burial.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

El Guindi, Fadwa. Veil: Modesty, Privacy, and Resistance. New York: Berg, 1999.

Murtaza, Mutahhari. The Islamic Modest Dress. Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1992.

A t the dawn of Indian civilization in 2500 b.c.e., women left their breasts bare. It was under Muslim rule, which lasted from 1500 to 1700 c.e., that women began to dress more modestly. The choli, a sewn garment that covered women's breasts, became popular as the Muslims rose in power. The choli is worn with a skirt or under a sari, a draped dress.

Although Indian women wore unstitched garments from the beginning of Indian civilization, from the first invasion of the Muslims in about the tenth century some Indians began to wear stitched garments. The choli is such a garment. The first choli only covered a woman's breasts, leaving her back bare. The garment evolved into many different variations, the most common being a tight-fitting bodice with short or long sleeves that ended just below the breasts or just above the waist. Many other variations of the choli are worn throughout India today and include styles fastened with ties, versions with rounded necklines, and some that shape or flatten the breasts.

Dyed Decorations From India

Two young girls wear several items of traditional Indian dress, including brightly colored cholis.

Reproduced by permission of © Howard Davies/CORBIS.

Worn mostly in the north and west of India, the choli is distinguished in different regions by various decorations. The fabric can be dyed bright colors, embroidered, or appliqued with mirrors. Cholis are made of cotton or silk but can also be made of organza and brocade for special occasions.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Goswamy, B. N., and Kalyan Krishna. Indian Costume in the Collection of the Calico Museum of Textiles. Ahmedabad, India: D. S. Mehta, 1993.

Two young girls wear several items of traditional Indian dress, including brightly colored cholis.

Reproduced by permission of © Howard Davies/CORBIS.

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Responses

  • virginio
    How to stitch a chadar?
    8 years ago
  • berilac
    How to make white chadar decorat?
    4 years ago

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