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About this cotton kurta
The symbolism of cotton kurta
A kurta (or sometimes Kurti, for women) is a loose collarless shirt worn in many regions of South Asia, and now also worn around the world. Tracing its roots to Central Asian nomadic tunics, or upper body garments, of the late-ancient- or early-medieval era, the kurta has evolved stylistically over the centuries, especially in South Asia, as a garment for everyday wear as well as for formal occasions.
It is traditionally made of cotton. It is worn plain or with embroidered decoration, such as chikan; and it can be loose or tight in the torso, typically falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer. The front and back of this dress are made of rectangular pieces, and its side seams are left open at the bottom, up to varying lengths, to enable ease of movement. The ends hemmed but not cuffed; it can be worn by both men and women; it is traditionally collarless, though standing collars are increasingly popular; and it can be worn over ordinary pajamas, loose shalwars, churidars, or less traditionally over jeans.
The history behind Stitching (i.e. cut and sewn) attire came to South Asia from Central Asia. There was a trickle during the Scythian/Parthian/Kushan invasions of the late ancient period, which markedly increased after the incursions of Mahmud of Ghazni, the floodgates opening with the Muslim conquests of the late 12th century until the kurta became an item of common attire during the Mughal period.
It is composed of rectangular fabric pieces with perhaps a few gusset inserts and is cut so as to leave no waste fabric. The cut is usually simple, although decorative treatments can be elaborate.
The sleeves of this dress fall straight to the wrist; they do not narrow, as do many Western-cut sleeves. Sleeves are not cuffed, just hemmed and decorated.
The front and back pieces are also rectangular. The side seams are left open for 6-12 inches above the hem, also referred to as the chāk, which gives the wearer some ease of movement.
It usually opens in the front; some styles, however, button at the shoulder seam. The front opening is often a hemmed slit in the fabric, tied or buttoned at the top; some kurtas, however, have plackets rather than slits. The opening may be centered on the chest, or positioned off-center.]
It does not have a collar. Modern variants may feature stand-up collars of the type known to tailors and seamstresses as “mandarin” collars. These are the same sort of collars seen on achkans, sherwanis, and Nehru jackets.
These are worn in the summer months are usually made of thin silk or cotton fabrics; winter season kurtas are made of thicker fabric such as wool or “Khadi silk”, a thick, coarse, handspun and handwoven silk that may be mixed with other fibers. A very common fabric is linen or a linen-cotton mix ideal for both summers and winters.
They are typically fastened with tasseled ties, cloth balls, and loops, or buttons. Buttons are often wood or plastic. They are worn on formal occasions might feature decorative metal buttons, which are not sewn to the fabric, but, like cufflinks, are fastened into the cloth when needed. Such buttons can be decorated with jewels, enameling, and other traditional jewelers’ techniques.
Tailors from South Asia command a vast repertoire of methods, traditional and modern, for decorating fabric. It is likely that all of them have been used, at one time or another, to decorate them. However, the most common decoration is embroidery. Many light summer kurtas feature Chikan embroidery, a specialty of Lucknow, around the hems and front opening. This embroidery is typically executed on light, semi-transparent fabric in a matching thread
They are often worn with jeans. Women sometimes wear them as blouses, usually over jeans pants. Jeans are sometimes preferred over pajamas or leggings as they are more durable for rough use. Most colors of this dress match with blue jeans. In 2014, an Indian family court in Mumbai ruled that a husband objecting to his wife wearing this dress and jeans and forcing her to wear a sari amounts to cruelty inflicted by the husband and can be a ground to seek divorce. The wife was thus granted a divorce on the ground of cruelty as defined under section 27(1)(d) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
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