City girl explores ‘Attires of Bhopal’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 May 2017 12:02:06

By Pallavi Singh,

Bhopal is known for its rich heritage and Nawabi culture. Nawabi architecture of the city and the enticing cuisine is something everybody is familiar with. But, there are very few people, who know about the legacy of the attires that developed and took shape in Bhopal, most of which are still worn by residents of the city in a refined form. To bring this into notice, 24-year-old Khushnoor Laiq Ahmed chose an offbeat topic ‘Attires of Bhopal State’ for her mini thesis.

A student of Government Maharani Laxmi Bai PG Girls Autonomous College, Khushnoor is a MA final year student of History. Khushnoor has chosen the topic ‘Attires of Bhopal’ for her internship research as she has great interest in exploring the history of attires that developed in Bhopal during medieval period from 18th to 20th century. From female attires to male attires, she has also chronicled the history of jewellery that developed in Bhopal during the time period from 1708 to 1949.

“Passing from the hands of Gond kings to the Nawabs, Bhopal has seen a concoction of traditions. I have gauged the attires of the time from the coming of Dost Mohammed Khan till the last Nawab of Bhopal, Nawab Hamidullah Khan. Bhopali attires have developed and improvised over time. Afghani tradition blended with the British culture and Indian culture, the amalgamation of which resulted in unique Bhopali attires,” said Khushnoor.

The first attire that is still worn largely by females in its raw form is ‘Bhopali joda’, which is the result of improvisation done by Sultan Jahan Begum. This attire came to Bhopal with Sultan Jahan Begum, when she visited Turkey in 1911. Khalifa of Turkey gifted her ‘Turki kurta’, which had a large girth of 7 to 8 metres. Sultan Jahan Begum noticed that due to large girth, the kurta made a person look fat. So she reduced the girth, gave more pleats on the waist and added raffles on the back, pairing it with ‘khada pyjama’, in present times known as narrow pants. She also added a 5 metre long dupatta, which is equal to the length of a saree, which is an Indian influence on the attire. The dupatta in ‘Bhopali Joda’ is carried on both the shoulders with round fall from the back, which still is a very popular attire.

Talking about the role of ‘begums’ in the development of attires and jewellery in Bhopal, Khushnoor said, “Bhopal has been ruled by begums for a very long time, which led to the amazing development in the field of attire and jewellery. For example, Garara, which is ingenious to Lucknow, became popular in Bhopal after it was worn in a different style by Sajida Sultan Begum, the second daughter of Nawab Hamidullah Khan, during her wedding, which had solid work in gold and silver wires. ‘Bala’, that we know today, where mogra is worn after studding it in thin silver or gold wire, was worn by ‘begums’ during summers. Instead of mogra, they used expensive gems and stones, which were studded in the wire.”

‘Pishwas’, another popular attire worn during the Begum rule, which consisted of long umbrella cut gown, without pleats and is still worn by girls with certain improvisation. Jewellery items like ‘Bali patte’, where the balis had design of leaves, ‘chuhe datti’, borrowing its name from rat’s teeth was used for adorning hands, ‘Datane’, square bangles with loads of ghunghroo, ‘pari cham’, bangles without any ghungroo, which had hanging designs like keri, flower and leaves hanging from the bangle, ‘Bhopali teeka’, having designs of moon and star are still worn by females of the city with few improvisations.

‘Another very popular ornament among Bhopali females, ‘Jhoomar’, worn on the side of head, came to Bhopal from Lucknow and Hyderabad and is largely worn by females of the city even today. During the Begum rule, multi-coloured and studded Jhoomars were worn largely by females of Royal families,” said Khushnoor.

Angrakha, an Afghani attire, worn by both men and women, was brought to Bhopal by Dost Mohammed Khan. It has 11 slits and was worn with bridges, a pant loose from the thigh area and tight from the calves. It was worn by Afghans as it made easier to ride a horse. In later times, Jodhpuri coat was paired with bridges along with boots. Boots paired with bridges was British influence on the attire. Many other attires like jama, kaftaan, achkan and sherwani developed in due course of time in the city with influence from other styles. For example, the Bhopali style sherwani developed with influence from British long overcoat. Standing collar coat with white kurta and ‘chust pyjama’ came from Lucknow, which developed in Bhopal in a different style.

Talking about the sources for research material, Khushnoor said, “I got material from State Museum, library of Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya and National Archives. Everybody was very supportive and it made the research work really smooth. My father has a big role to play in the completion of my thesis as he supported me in everything and took me wherever I had to go for collecting the research material.”