Angrakha

The word ‘angrakha’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘angrakshak,’ which means ‘body armour protector.’ Angrakha began to be used to describe upper garments in the same way that jama, a Persian term for torso cloth or clothing, was used to describe lower garments. Muslin, brocade, velvet, and quilted cotton were among the fabrics used for angrakha. The purdah, the inner panel inserted into the cutout portion of the yoke to cover the chest, is made up of two parts: the round-edged, sometimes triangular opening upfront and the purdah, the inner panel inserted into the cutout portion of the yoke to cover the chest. Angarkhas are made up of a bodice and skirt attached at the waist in some cases, and a panelled coat is the most common style in others. The length of the skirt, as well as the fullness and shape of the front opening, varies. The angrakha was fastened at the neck, underarms, chest, and waist with a fabric tie or cord. To facilitate body movement, the sides of the garments were slitted and the wrists were slitted as well.

Angrakha fabric was occasionally a fine Indian muslin with Indian chikan embroidery (Fig 2).

In essence, the angrakha was Mughal, and it was worn well into the twentieth century. The wide variety of angrakhas made of various fabrics demonstrates that this garment was popular for everyday wear as well as special occasions during this time period. For the winter, they could be quilted.

Fig.3.Olive green angrakha made of highly prized pashmina wool(Jaipur City palace museum), 
source: Ritu Kumar’s Costumes & textiles of Royal India

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that pockets became a regular feature of angrakhas, the choice of royalty.

In Jaipur’s Albert Hall Museum, a brocade angrakha is on display. It has a red lining and a pocket on the inside. This angrakha, which dates from the late nineteenth century, belonged to the Maharaja of Jaipur.

References:

Academia.edu ‘The influence of British Raj on Indian Fashion’ by Dr Toolika Gupta. Online  at

https://www.academia.edu/66925515/The_influence_of_British_rule_on_elite_Indian_menswear_the_birth_of_the_Sherwani (retrieved on 1st Feb)

Kumar, Ritu. ‘Costumes and Textiles of Royal India’ London: Christ book, 1999 (DLC)

Thames & Hudson, ‘The Worldwide History of Dress’ New York: 2007

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