Salwar kameez

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Salwar kameez, from Max Tilke's Oriental Costume, 1922
Salwar kameez (also spelled shalwar kameez and shalwar qamiz) is a traditional dress worn by both women and men in South Asia. It is sometimes known as Punjabi suit due to its popularity in the Punjab region[1] and the Pathani suit, due to the fact that the Pathans of Kabul introduced the dress to the rest of the Indian subcontinent.[2]

Salwars or shalwars are loose pajama-like trousers. The legs are wide at the top, and narrow at the bottom. The kameez is a long shirt or tunic. The side seams (known as the chaak) are left open below the waist-line, which gives the wearer greater freedom of movement. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is the preferred garment of both sexes. In Bangladesh and India, it is most commonly a woman's garment.

Description

Salwars are pleated at the waist and held up by a drawstring or an elastic belt. The pants can be wide and baggy, or they can be quite narrow and made of fabric cut on the bias. In the latter case, they are known as churidars. The kameez is usually cut straight and flat; older kameez use traditional cuts, as shown in the illustration; modern kameez are more likely to have European-inspired set-in sleeves. The tailor's taste and skill are usually displayed not in the overall cut, but in the shape of the neckline and the decoration of the kameez.

When women wear the salwar kameez, they usually wear a long scarf or shawl called a dupatta around the head or neck. For Muslim women, the dupatta is a less stringent alternative to the chador or burqa (see hijab and purdah). For Hindu women (especially those from northern India, where the salwar kameez is most popular), the dupatta is useful when the head must be covered, as in a temple or the presence of elders. For other women, the dupatta is simply a stylish accessory that can be worn over one shoulder or draped around the chest and over both shoulders.

Modern versions of the feminine salwar kameez can be much less modest than traditional versions. The kameez may be cut with a plunging neckline, sewn in diaphanous fabrics, or styled in sleeveless or cap-sleeve designs. The kameez side seams may be split high up to the waistline and, it may be worn with the salwar slung low on the hips. When women wear semi-transparent kameez (mostly as a party dress), they wear a choli or a cropped camisole underneath it.

Etymology and history

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Portrait of a Hindu girl from Karachi, Sind, in narrow salwar & kameez. c. 1870. Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library.
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Portrait of a Muslim girl from Karachi, Sind, in a salwar and blouse. c. 1870. Oriental and India Office Collection, British Library.


The pants, or salwar, are known as shalwar in Punjabi: ਸਲਵਾਰ ਕਮੀਜ਼, salwaar or shalwaar શલવાર કમીઝ in Gujarati, salwaar or shalwar शलवार कमीज़ in Hindi, and shalwar in Urdu: شلوار قمیض. The word comes from the Persian: شلوار, meaning pants, ultimately from Arabic سروال, note the inversion of the letters ل and ر which has happened in the adaptation process.

The shirt, kameez or qamiz, takes its name from the Arabic qamis.

There are two main hypotheses regarding the origin of the Arabic word, namely:
  1. that Arabic qamis is derived from the Latin camisia (shirt), which in its turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European kem (‘cloak’). [3]
  2. that Mediaeval Latin camisia is a borrowing through Late Classical Greek kamision from the Central Semitic root “qmṣ”, represented by Ugaritic qmṣ (‘garment’) and Arabic qamīṣ (‘shirt’). Both of these are related to the Hebrew verb קמץqmṣ (‘grip’, ‘enclose with one’s hand’). [4]


Garments cut like the traditional kameez are known in many cultures; according to Dorothy Burnham, of the Royal Ontario Museum, the "seamless shirt," woven in one piece on warp-weighted looms, was superseded in early Roman times by cloth woven on vertical looms and carefully pieced so as not to waste any cloth. 10th century cotton shirts recovered from the Egyptian desert are cut much like the traditional kameez or the contemporary Egyptian jellabah or galabia.[5] In India, the costume originated in Punjab, but is now popular in all of Urban India.

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Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, in shalwar and sherwani, with his sister Fatima Jinnah, in shalwar qamiz. Picture taken in 1947.


Wide legged pants with drawstring were worn in many areas ruled by Turko-Iranian horse riding steppe peoples of Central Asia. The Ottoman empire was ruled by Turks; many Iranian dynasties, including the recent Qajar dynasty, were of Turkic origin. Their characteristic clothing became court dress and eventually popular dress. Their wide-legged pants have been called Turko-Mongol[6] and Turco-Persian.[7] This style is still worn in contemporary Turkey and Iran.

Starting in the 12th century, a series of raids and invasions established Islamic Turko-Iranian rule -- the Delhi sultanate and later the Moghul empire -- over much of what is now northern India and Pakistan. The new rulers wore the kameez and the characteristic Turkish pants, which were called salwars or shalwars. Again, fashion followed rule and the salwar suit became popular throughout the area.

National dress

The apparel is commonly worn by both men and women in all parts of Pakistan and is colloquially referred to as 'awami suit' which translates as 'dress of the public'. The Pakistani government has also requested government officials and diplomats to wear it along with the sherwani and Jinnah cap when they are acting in their official capacity. For these reasons it is described as the national dress of Pakistan. Pakistanis prefer to transliterate the term as shalwar qamiz.

It has also been described by some as the national dress of Afghanistan, though the Afghan government has not itself made such a declaration.

English spelling

Transliterations starting from Hindi often render the sibilant sound at the start of salwar/shalwar as an "s". Transliterations starting from Urdu usually use "sh". Both spellings are found in common English usage. The shalwar spelling seems to be most common in Canada and the United Kingdom, and is the preferred spelling in the Oxford English Dictionary. Salwar seems to be more common in the US and is found at many online stores selling salwar kameez. There are variations of Salwar Kameez where it is called salwar suit or Indo western suit sometimes.

Purchasing or sewing shalwar kameez

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A man's salwar held up to display amount of material needed.
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Salwar (with Kabuli sandals) as worn in South and Central Asia.
In Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan one simply visits the local tailor and has a salwar suit made to order. Overseas South Asians and interested foreigners can order custom suits over the internet (through online websites). One selects the fabric, indicates the style features desired (type of pants, neckline style, embroidery or other decoration desired, type of sleeves, length of tunic, etc.), pays, and fills out a measurement form. The prices range from under $10 to over $600. There are also South Asian clothing stores in many larger Western cities. Some ethnic and historic sewing pattern companies sell patterns for salwar, churidar, kameez, and kurta, to be purchased at fabric stores or over the net.

See also

References

1. ^ Salwar Kameez: Information, Types, About - Paragraph 26
2. ^ Salwar Kameez Fashion
3. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary: chemise
4. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary: qmṣ
5. ^ Burnham, Dorothy. 1973. Cut My Cote, Royal Ontario Museum. p. 10.
6. ^ Baker, Stephen. 2000 "Turko-Mongol Trousers". The Red Kaganate.
7. ^ Mellor, Charles. 2000. "Salwar - Turco-Persian Pants". The Red Kaganate.

External links

South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is a southern geopolitical region of the Asian continent comprising territories on and in proximity to the Indian subcontinent. It is surrounded by (from west to east) Western Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Asia, and Southeastern Asia.
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Punjab /span>]] ?· i ਪੰਜਾਬ in Gurmukhi, Punjabi: ਪੰਜਾਬ, Hindi: पंजाब
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Kabul

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Pajamas or pyjamas (see also spelling differences) is a word with several different, related meanings in the field of clothing.
  • The original pajamas — are loose, lightweight drawstring trousers tied around the waist and worn in South and West Asia.

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Trousers (or pants in Canada, South Africa and the United States, and sometimes called slacks or breeches — often pronounced /bɹɪtʃɪz/
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Trousers (or pants in Canada, South Africa and the United States, and sometimes called slacks or breeches — often pronounced /bɹɪtʃɪz/
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Churidars, or more properly churidar pyjamas, are tightly fitting trousers worn by both men and women in South Asia and Central Asia. They are a variant of the common salwar pants. Salwars are cut wide at the top and narrow at the ankle.
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Dupatta (Hindi: दुपट्टा, Urdu: دوپٹا) is a long scarf that is essential to many South Asian women's suits. Some "dupatta suits" include the salwar kameez, the trouser suit, and the kurta.
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A chador or chadar (Persian چادر) is an outer garment or open cloak worn by some Iranian women when they venture out into public; it is one possible way in which a Muslim woman may follow the Islamic ħijāb dress code.
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burqa (also transliterated burkha, burka or burqua) is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of cloaking the entire body.
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Hijab or ħijāb (حجاب) is the Arabic term for "cover" (noun), based on the root حجب meaning "to veil, to cover (verb), to screen, to shelter"
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Purdah or Pardaa (Persian/Urdu: پردہ, Hindi: पर्दा literally meaning "curtain") is the practice of preventing men from seeing women.
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A choli is a midriff-baring blouse worn in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and other countries where the sari is worn. The choli is cut to fit tightly to the body and has short sleeves with a low neck.
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