Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Equal Rights for Men – Wedding Textiles of a Rabari Groom!

Over the years, my friends and I have lamented over the lack of variety in the clothes we bought for our sons. Those of us fortunate to have daughters were compensated by the diversity of dresses – in terms of color & form – for the girls.

This gender inequality is unfair – I agree.

But I have faith that sooner or later activists will take this up and demand equal rights for men to wear bright & cheerful colors & prints and to move away from drab boring homogenous clothing. After all it is the age of equal rights!

However in a small part of India, Kutch, Gujarat the men do not face this sort of discrimination.

Their clothes are just as colorful and ornately decorated as those of their women.

The equality in this emancipated tribe is a breath of fresh air in this world that is otherwise frought with deep gender bias!

A few examples:

1. Turbans

[A handsome turban, extremely stunningly tied – perfectly matched with the handsome man! Cropped out of this image is his beedi – he could well have been the equivalent of the local Marlboro man]



2. Dhoti or Man’s lower Garment

[This cloth is tied at the waist in the form of pants. Loose & airy it is perfectly suited to the hot weather]

[ATK-188 Wovensouls Collection]

Rabari dhoti

Their turbans, their dhotis, their short shirts and long robes are all fantastically woven & embroidered with colors that are attract the eye.

And so naturally, at the time of a wedding, the groom’s clothes are as much of a concern as the bride’s. The truth in our world, is the preoccupation with the bridal gown / sari and the bride’s X number of clothes changes during the wedding…..her jewelry her accessories and so on.

All quite well put in the full length film “Sex & the City” where the groom is almost incidental to the entire wedding planning!

But not so in the Rabaris.

The man’s clothing & accessories (so many of them) receive the spotlight as much as the bride’s.

The reasons for this I do not know – but I can venture a guess:

Marriages all over are made in heaven, but in this group, the ceremonies are conducted in the laps of the parents as they used to have child-marriage. And if the mother is in charge of arranging the clothes, naturally she will put on the best for her child – whether boys or girls! And the boys themselves were too young to have an opinion or protest. And so she had her way, and then that became a practice as everyone saw no anomaly in the use of color. Just my guess.

[For the record the legal age as decided by the homogenous law of the land set by the government, is 18. Whether this is a wise thing or not, is debatable – but that is not the subject of this note].

So we have some wonderful pieces sown & embroidered for the groom – all from the wovensouls collection:

3. Groom’s Triangular Panel

An accessory worn as an attachement announcing that this young man is the groom. This piece is for a young man.

[ATI-765 Wovensouls Collection]



Rabari Groom Textile

4. A Sword’s Sheath – Groom’s accessory



5.  Groom’s Bokani or Shoulder Cloth

ATK-692 Bukani |

rabari bokani

And finally

6. A Child Groom’s Kedia of Shirt



7. White Kedia Groom’s shirt

An example of a white Kedia [short shirt] found in the Victoria & Albert Museum Collection, London  is linked here.


SO, dear men of other worlds – if you are reading this… it is time to unite – and take to the streets for your rights! Let your voice be heard! Go out there and fight for your right to wear colors! More power to you! Long Live Gender Equality!!


March 2015

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