Visual Culture

The Aesthetics of Mughal Era

Ever since the oldest civilization, i.e Indus Valley, draping of cloth was the ways of covering your body. You may find a little bit of hand stitching here and there but that was it. So what brought sewn garments in India? It is considered that it were the Mughal’s who brought tailors to India, and thereby tailored garments came into fashion. So lets talk about Mughal era and their aesthetics?

Babur_of_India
Babur

So exactly who were Mughals? They were descendants of Mongolians like Chengiz Khan. The very first Mughal emperor that India had was Babur. The clothing at that time was very much inspired by the The weather of Central Asia, since it is quite cold because it lies in far North therefore clothing was the necessity of that climate. The basic idea of Mughal clothing comes from there.

They wore a Jama (left), which had a very fitted bodice and skirt like bottom, over it was a “Chogha” (right) which was a very loose fitting garment open from the front.

During the reign of Babur, the Persian influence was very strong hence the colors, embroidery and embellishments that you will observe are very Persian. On the bottom they wore a Churidaar, which is like a tight fitting pajama, longer than the persons legs and hence gathered at the hem, giving look of rings.

Turbans was one of the most important accessory of Mughals. Submission of a turban was a very humiliating act, and/or removal of a king’s turban during battle was considered as a sign of defeat. Based on the type of turban, the class, nobility and status of people could be proclaimed.

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While the clothing more or less remained same up until Humayun, during the reign of Akbar one thing did get changed and that was the Jama. Original jama had opening in the front, Akbar shifted the open to side, giving it a slight Indian look. It was then, when the clothing started to become part Indian. This new jama was called “Takauchiya”

Hrithik-roshan
Here is Hrithik Roshan in Akbar’s look, where you can see the Takauchiya, chogha, churidaar and patka, along with a turban.

Talking about the aesthetics of Mughal men, they were pretty slim and short heighted people, except for Akbar. Akbar was a pretty tall and ample bodied person.

Talking about Mughal women, they were more of less similar to the Renaisaance women, when it came to body structure. They were ample bodies, chubby and ample bossom and slight bulging belly, which was characteristic beauty of that time.

Clothing of women was more or less similar to that of men, they had a jama and chogha (called peshwaz). The difference was for the bottom, their either wore churidaar or a long skirt called Yalek. The colors were very bright and lots of greens and reds were in their silhouettes.

Here are some typical Mughal looks.

With the onset of Mehrunissa (Nur Jahan), during Jahangir’s reign, the colors completely changed as she brought the all famous white embroidery from Persia, Chikankari.

Queen-Noorjahan-Taj-Mahal-Was-Built-In-Memory-Of-HerWhen chikankari came, all the silhouettes changed into white pastel colors. The princess was a skilled embroiderer herself. (I wrote a blog specifically about chikankari in my first sem of college, Here’s the link if you’d like to visit.)

Now if you will see the mughal paintings after this era you will more of pastel shades that reds and greens which were there before.

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Here’s a beautiful typical Nur Jahan look. You can see the pastel colors and that intricate white embroidery.

Often this embroidery was paired with silver embellishments. Today its called Muqqaish work.

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Here’s another Nur Jahan inspired look with silver embellishments.
modernmughal
Here’s a very modern take at Nur Jahan’s look by designer Tarun Tahiliani. You can see how the pastel shades nicely compliment the subtle embroidery work paired with some embellishments.

Mughals were heavily adorned with jewellery. Be it the men or women, both fancied jewelleries. Women had a tad bit, or wait too mcuh of jewellery on them. It was also a show to show their status of royalty.

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Here’s a mughal inspired bridal couture by Bunto kazmi.

Overall, mughal era was a time of heavy fashion. Rich in gold and silver embellishments, rich brocade patterns. They wore cotton clothing during summers and heavy brocade silks during winters. Till today Mughal Fashion is something that stands out and totally wow’s anyone who looks at it.

Whats your opinion on Mughal fashion?

Hope you enjoyed reading through this. 🙂


 

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