The kurta is a kind of shirt or tunic with long or half sleeves and buttoned up at the centre on the chest. It is generally made up of straight panels of fabric stitched together at the selvedges to form a tunic to which wide sleeves are attached at right angles. Kurta was an over-garment worn with pajama and ghaghra, it is a unisex garment that was particularly popular in colder regions. Throughout history, kurtas for women have taken on a variety of forms. To increase the fullness of the main tunic panel, straight and gored panels were added (Fig. 1). More sophisticated tailoring saw the rounding of armholes and darting of the waistline. Regional variations added further stylistic interest – neckline shapes and hem and sleeve lengths differed and, in warmer regions, they were made of finer fabrics and evolved more feminine styles.
The Bhopali kurta, for example, has gathered panelled areas under the armholes, and the Hyderabadi kurta had a keyhole neck opening. A great deal of gold and silver embroidery was used to ornament royal kurtas, especially in Western India (where they are also known as abhos), on the Punjab Plains and in the hill states of Jammu, Kashmir and Chamba. Today, the kurta still has a very strong presence in India and has become fashionable in its traditional form. It is worn with the shalwar in most parts of Northern India.