NCERT Class 9 History Chapter 8: Clothing: A Social History YouTube Lecture Handouts

Doorsteptutor material for UGC is prepared by world's top subject experts: Get detailed illustrated notes covering entire syllabus: point-by-point for high retention.

Download PDF of This Page (Size: 124K)

Get video tutorial on:

Watch Video Lecture on YouTube: NCERT Class 9 History Chapter 8: Clothing a Social History

NCERT Class 9 History Chapter 8: Clothing a Social History

Loading Video
Watch this video on YouTube
  • Clothes shape the notions of grace, beauty, modesty and shame.

  • Before democratic revolutions – dress was mainly in the regional code limited by type and cost

  • Spread of democratic ideals changed the way of dressing

Sumptuary Laws

  • Control the behaviour of those considered social inferiors, preventing them from wearing certain clothes, consuming certain foods and beverages (usually this referred to alcohol) and hunting game in certain areas.

  • Number of clothes purchased per year was regulated by income and social rank

  • Royal classes wore – ermine, fur, silk, velvet and brocade

  • Members of the Jacobin clubs even called themselves the ‘sans culottes’ to distinguish themselves from the aristocracy who wore the fashionable ‘knee breeches’.

  • Colors of France became popular – blue, white and red

  • Political symbols – red cap of liberty, long trousers and the revolutionary cockade pinned on to a hat

  • Aristocratic females wore corset to confine and shape oneself

  • 19th century England, velvet caps were made with material imported from France and Italy. England passed a law, which compelled all persons over six years of age, except those of high position, to wear woolen caps made in England, on Sundays and all holy days. This law remained in effect for twenty-six years and was very useful in building up the English woolen industry.

  • End of sumptuary law – change in dress code & laws no longer barred people to dress in specific manner

  • Men were expected to be serious, strong, independent and aggressive, women were seen as frivolous, delicate, passive and docile.

  • America – again long skirts that swept the ground.

  • Women should have small waist, bear pain and suffering, look docile but by 1830s women agitated against it. These clothing restrict body growth, hamper blood circulation, muscles remain underdeveloped and spines bent.

  • In the 1870s, National Woman Suffrage Association headed by Mrs Stanton, and the American Woman Suffrage Association dominated by Lucy Stone both campaigned for dress reform. The argument was: simplify dress, shorten skirts, and abandon corsets.

  • Amelia Bloomer, an American, was the first dress reformer to launch loose tunics worn over ankle-length trousers. The trousers were known as ‘bloomers’, ‘rationals’, or ‘knickerbockers’. The Rational Dress Society was started in England in 1881.

  • Conservatives opposed the change. Change came as new material and technology.

New Times

  • Before 17th century – ordinary women had few cloth of linen, wool or flax. After 1600 and trade with India, Indian Chintzes (floral cotton cloth) reached many.

  • During Industrial revolution, mass manufacturing of cotton started and it became accessible to many people.

  • By early 20th century, artificial fibers made clothes cheaper still and easier to wash and maintain.

  • Clothes got lighter, shorter and simpler.

  • Until 1914, clothes were ankle length, as they had been since the 13th century.

  • By 1915, hemline of the skirt rose dramatically to mid-calf.

  • Changes in war – women stopped wearing jewelry and luxurious clothes, clothes got shorter in WW-I due to need for war and employment in ammunition factories. Bright colors was replaced by sober colors, skirts got short and clothes became simpler for comfort and convenience

Transformation in Colonial India

Influence of west along with traditions of India

  • People incorporated western clothes - Baggy trousers and the phenta (or hat) were added to long collarless coats, with boots and a walking stick to have a gentlemen look (mainly attractive to Dalit converted to Christianity)

  • Against western clothes and made mockery of Bengali babus with western attire

  • Mix of western (at work) and traditional (at home)

  • India had its own strict social codes of food and dress.

  • In May 1822, women of the Shanar (Nadars) caste (subordinate) were attacked by Nairs in public places in the southern princely state of Travancore, for wearing a cloth across their upper bodies.

  • Dress reforms took place under Ayya Vaikunder. The abolition of slavery in Travancore in 1855. Finally, government issued another proclamation permitting Shanar women, whether Christian or Hindu, to wear a jacket, or cover their upper bodies.

Turban Versus Hat & Shoes

  • Turban was protection from heat and sign of respectability and couldn’t be removed at will

  • Hat was removed before social superiors

  • British were often offended if Indians did not take off their turban when they met colonial officials. Many Indians on the other hand wore the turban to consciously assert their regional or national identity.

  • British officials must remove footwear in court of kings

  • In 1830, Europeans were forbidden from wearing Indian clothes at official functions, so that the cultural identity of the white masters was not undermined.

  • In 1824 - 1828, Governor-General Amherst insisted that Indians take their shoes off as a sign of respect when they appeared before him, but this was not strictly followed.

  • By mid-19th century, when Lord Dalhousie was Governor- General, ‘shoe respect’ was made stricter, and Indians were made to take off their shoes when entering any government institution; only those who wore European clothes were exempted from this rule.

  • In 1862, there was a famous case of defiance of the ‘shoe respect’ rule in a Surat courtroom. Manockjee Cowasjee Entee, an assessor in the Surat Fouzdaree Adawlut, refused to take off his shoes in the court of the sessions judge – judges insisted shoe removal but he was adamant.

  • In India – shoes were removed because of dirt and filth in open area, shoes as polluting so shouldn’t be removed in public places

Designing National Dress

  • Rabindranath Tagore suggested that instead of combining Indian and European dress, India’s national dress should combine elements of Hindu and Muslim dress. Chapkan (a long buttoned coat) was considered the most suitable dress for men.

  • In the late 1870s, Jnanadanandini Devi, wife of Satyendranath Tagore, the first Indian member of the ICS, returned from Bombay to Calcutta. She adopted the Parsi style of wearing the sari pinned to the left shoulder with a brooch, and worn with a blouse and shoes. Was later adopted by Brahmo Samaji women and known as the Brahmika sari.

  • Women of Gujarat, Kodagu, Kerala and Assam continue to wear different types of sari.

Swadeshi Movement

  • India accounted for 1/4th of the world’s manufactured goods in the seventeenth century. There were a million weavers in Bengal alone in the middle of the eighteenth century.

  • Industrial Revolution in Britain mechanized spinning and weaving and greatly increased the demand for raw materials such as cotton and indigo, changed India’s status in the world economy.

  • Peasants were forced to grow indigo and many Indian weavers were left without work

  • People boycotted British goods and adopted khadi (coarse, expensive and difficult to obtain)

  • Use of khadi was made a patriotic duty. Women were urged to throw away their silks and glass bangles and wear simple shell bangles. Rough homespun was glorified in songs and poems to popularize it.

Mahatma Gandhi

  • He popularized spinning wheel and charkha and cloth made from homespun yarn

  • Gujarati bania who wore dhoti and pyjama

  • When went to England to study and later as lawyer to South Africa wore Western dress

  • In Durban in 1913, Gandhi first appeared in a lungi and kurta with his head shaved as a sign of mourning to protest against the shooting of Indian coal miners

  • On his return to India in 1915, he decided to dress like a Kathiawadi peasant.

  • Only in 1921 did he adopt the short dhoti, the form of dress he wore until his death.

  • On 22 September 1921, a year after launching the non-cooperation movement - experiment for a month or two

  • Khadi, white and coarse, was to him a sign of purity, of simplicity, and of poverty.

  • He wore the loincloth in Round Table Conference in 1931 & even before King George V at Buckingham Palace

  • Motilal Nehru, a successful barrister from Allahabad, gave up his expensive Western-style suits and adopted the Indian dhoti and kurta but not of coarse cloth

  • Babasaheb Ambedkar never gave up the Western-style suit. Many Dalits began in the early 1910s to wear three-piece suits, and shoes and socks on all public occasions

  • Sarojini Naidu and Kamala Nehru, wore colored saris with designs

  • Gandhi adopted turban to Kashmiri cap and finally Gandhi cap.

  • With the rise of the Khilafat movement in the post-First World War years, the fez, a tasseled Turkish cap, became a sign of anti-colonialism in India. Later, fez was identified for Muslims

Developed by: