Headdress - DOT-Maharashtra Tourism

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Maharashtra, India.

Unique Features

As depicted in various hieroglyphs, sculptures, paintings, since 
the prehistoric period, headdresses were an important and 
integral part of human culture. These were part of the attire of 
the human race besides jewellery during day-to-day life as 
well as on ceremonial occasions. The environmental factor, 
available raw-material, faiths and traditions and fashion trends 
affected the design and development of the headdress. All 
sorts of material, right from wool, grass, cloth, metal, animal 
horns, glass, jewels, feathers, flowers etc., is used in the 
design of a headdress. Artificial wigs and veils too are part of 
this fashion statement. Protection from the harsh weather and 
during wars were other primary usages of a headdress.
Like the history of headdresses, the world over, India too has 
a long history of headdress design and usage. Various 
characters depicted on the Harappan seals can be seen with 
different kinds of headdresses. The Buddha sculptures in the 
Gandhara and Mathura art forms in the later period are shown 
with a unique style of a headdress styled with the Buddha’s 
hair. The sculptures from the Satavahana period in 
Maharashtra, as depicted in the Buddhist caves as well as the 
paintings in the Ajanta caves, portray the ancient sources of 
modern fashion designs. 
The initial literary reference to a headdress is in the 
Atharvaveda and Shatapatha Brahmana and the word is 
mentioned as ‘Ushneesha’. The Ushneesha is used by a kind 
and a Vratya – a person without a thread ceremony samskara
at a proper age during the Yagnya ceremony. Shatapatha 
Brahmana speaks of a Ushneesha worn by queen Indrayani. A 
circular-shaped, conch shaped, jewel decked headdress was 
in vogue during the 2nd century BCE. This trend kept on 
changing over time, overall the regions.
Maharashtra has an interesting and colourful diaspora of 
headdresses. The round Pagadi was worn primarily by 
Brahmin-s, the circular Pagote worn by Maratha, Mali and a 
few other castes. The saffron-coloured Patka is worn typically 
by the aristocratic Maratha class. Pagadi was always red in 
colour, person-specific and prefabricated. Pagote used to be 
oblong, triangular and prefabricated. Patka, Feta, Tivat, Mandil 
and Batti are some of the names of the variations worn by the 
Maharashtrian male population in general. 
There were two distinct styles of wearing a Feta. A Patka is 
made of a 53 feet long cloth which is a foot wide and the 
folds are bigger on one side than the other. A Feta is a bit 
tilted on one side and the other flatter side covers the ear. Its 
one shorter end is given a shape of a tuft and the other 
folded long open end is left over the shoulder. It is known as 
Shemla in colloquial Marathi and this style is very popular in 
aristocratic Maratha-s and Rajput-s. Another variation is a 
Rumal is a square piece of cloth, which is 12” X12” and both 
the ends are placed inside the folds and are not seen. The 
Rumal is usually worn by the Kirtankar.

Cultural Significance

Maharashtra has an interesting and colourful diaspora of headdresses.
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