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History of Indian Fashion: The Post-Vedic Period (c. 800–c. 500 BCE)

History of Indian fashion dates back to ancient times. In the post-Vedic period, which began around 500 BCE, India experienced significant social and cultural changes that had a profound impact on fashion and clothing. During this period, the history of Indian fashion saw a gradual shift from the traditional clothing styles of the Vedic era to more elaborate and intricate designs. The fashion of this period was heavily influenced by the changing political and social climate, as well as the emergence of new religions and cultural practices. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the history of Indian fashion in the post-Vedic period, exploring the various styles, fabrics, and trends that emerged during this time. We will also look at the various factors that influenced the evolution of Indian fashion during this period, providing insight into the complex and fascinating world of Indian fashion.

The post-Vedic period has been marked with great sophistication in jewelry and costume even before the advent of the Mauryan and the Sunga period. The evidence of the ancient costumes from this period can only be found in the sacred texts of the upanishads. Between the composition of the Rig Veda and the Mauryan-Sunga period, there was the Post-Vedic period. The era stands significant as the Aryans moved eastward down the Ganges and their costumes adapted to the changing scenarios.


history of Indian fashion

In the post-Vedic period and before the Mauryans ruled, the unstitched pieces of clothing of a prior age including the ‘antariya’ (lower piece of clothing) and ‘uttariya’ (upper article of clothing) had now expanded to incorporate a ‘kayabandh’ (band) to hold up the ‘antariya’. Also, ladies wore the ‘patka’, an ornamented strip produced of cloth, woven bamboo fiber, calfskin, woolen edges, or plaited pieces of cotton, fabric or yarn wrapped up the ‘antariya’ at the centré front.

The history of Indian fashion reveals that the ‘usnisa’ turban was rarely used in the past, but gradually became popular among the masses. In the Vedic era, women wore a woven skirt (pesas) and a breastband (pratidhi) tied straight or transversely across the chest and at the back.

Fashions Of The Past: Haute Couture And More From Ancient India

The history of Indian fashion is a fascinating journey that has seen the evolution of clothing styles and accessories over the centuries. In the post-Vedic era, one of the popular clothing styles was the ‘kachcha’, which involved tying the ‘antariya’ or lower cloth around the waist and between the legs to form a trouser-like garment. The ‘hattisondaka’ style was a variation of the ‘kachcha’, where the shorter end was tucked in at the back and the longer end pleated and tucked in at the front, resembling an elephant trunk. Another popular style was the fishtail or ‘machhavalaka’, where the longer end was pleated and tucked in at the front in the shape of a fishtail.

In addition to these unstitched garments, there was also a mention of a cut-and-sewn clothing called the ‘atka’, which was a hip or calf-length piece of clothing worn by both men and women. Shoes were now generally worn among the wealthy, with a wide range of footwear mentioned in the ‘Mahavaggya’. Colored leather shoes and boots adorned with gems and feathers were popular among the wealthy, while the poor wore shoes made of straw or palm leaves.

Grooming was also an important aspect of fashion in the post-Vedic era. Razors or ‘ksura’ were used for hair removal, while women colored their fingertips and toes with the ruby juice of lac.

Overall, the post-Vedic period saw a rich diversity of clothing styles and accessories. From the ‘kachcha’ to the ‘atka’, and from leather shoes to straw sandals, fashion in India was evolving and adapting to the changing social and cultural climate. Today, we can still see traces of these ancient styles in modern Indian fashion, a testament to the enduring legacy of this rich and vibrant culture.

Religious Apparel

In the history of Indian fashion, Buddhist priests and nuns wore yellow linen clothing such as the ‘sanghati’ and ‘chaddar’. Nuns could wear a bodice and had a sheet and one loincloth, while priests wore an intricately woven ‘kayabandh’ held up by a bone or conch shell fastener.

Textiles and Dyes
In the Vedic age, the word ‘sindhu’, found in the library of Assurbanipal, the Assyrian ruler (668 – 626 B.C.), was utilized to connote Indian cotton. Fine cotton, material, fleece, and silk were accessible, and the latter was known to be delivered in Benares and Bihar. There was a woolen chaddar called ‘dusa’, which is as yet accessible in Punjab. Another variety of woolen material called ‘vahitha’ was likewise woven in the post-Vedic period. The skins of numerous creatures, including the lion, tiger, panther, cow, and deer, were utilized as a bed covering, footwear, and even garments. Fabric woven from hemp was called ‘sana’, and the one produced using the fiber of the bhag tree was known as ‘bhaga’ is still woven in the Kumaon locale of Uttaranchal under the name of bhagela. Colors included indigo, yellow, red, fuchsia, dark and turmeric or haldi, and colored textures were regularly designed. Garments had improved lines of cut-work or weaving. Many kinds of buttons were accessible for securing pieces of clothing, produced using bone, conch-shell, yarn, gold, and silver.


Both in the Samhitas and the Brahmana texts (1000-800 B.C.) there is a reference to the names of jewelry and ornaments of this period. These were produced using gold, silver, bronze, ivory, and mother-of-pearl. It is at this period that crowns made of horn were worn, as were ‘stupa’, cone-like head adornments for men, and round crowns called ‘dkumba’, or headbands, ‘tirita’. In their hair, ladies wore a filet or ‘opasa’ and ‘sraj’, a festoon of blossoms, or gold laurels called ‘hiranya-sraj’. Ear-rings were known as ‘pravatra’, and the ‘niska’ or coin neckband from a prior period kept on being popular. Rings of gold and girdles held their unique names of ‘hiranya’ and ‘rasana’. There were numerous variations of beads utilized in ornaments, and each had an extraordinary name alluding to its shape or the material from which it was made.

Despite the passage of time, elements of these ancient fashion styles continue to influence modern Indian fashion. Today, we can still observe their legacy in the way Indian clothing is draped, and in the various styles of footwear and accessories. This is a testament to the rich history of Indian fashion and the enduring impact it has had on contemporary fashion trends.

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Next read- History Of The Pink Color And The Feminine Connotation

(1) Comment

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