Puthiya of Rajasthan

Puthias are a type of upper garment worn by both men and women in Rajasthan. Newborns, young unmarried girls, elderly women, and widows all wear it. Puthia represents a period of a woman’s life when she is fertile but not sexual. As a result, a Rajasthani dress is only worn after a girl reaches puberty, even if she marries during the reign. This is especially true when the bridegroom approaches his bride shortly after puberty in the case of child marriage. It is worn by all Hindu communities, with slight differences in style and a structured analysis of the society in which the wearer is a member.

Puthia has a pattern that is very similar to angarkha, especially the short version, angarkhi. The term angarkha, which is derived from Sanskrit: anga or body and Raksha or protection, denotes the age and origin of these garments. It’s a double-breasted garment with a high flap that falls to the right and is tied beneath the left armpit. Because the garment is made entirely of one piece of fabric, there are no waist joints and the garment falls gracefully to the hips. The sleeve length can range from elbow length to full length. Although the dress is usually white, the edges are sewn with a separate piping, usually red poplin.

The harsh desert terrain and limited natural resources have instilled a sense of foresight in Rajasthan’s rural communities, which can be seen in their inventive use of cloth. Puthia is cut into geometric-squared, rectangular, and triangular shapes, for example, to reduce damage. This design bears resemblance to vintage patterns. Two front panels, one front extension, two sleeves, four side panels, and two gussets are all part of the puthia. One to three buttons or ties in the front hole (centre). The neck is long and slender, resembling the shape of a horseshoe. 

The cuts are plain and straight, with barely any shaping on the back. The front and back are given defined contours by adding flared sides. The lower ends of the side seams of these panels are left partially unstitched to allow for movement. The puthia sleeves taper towards the hem and are designed to fit in a square or somewhat circular armhole. Khankhi are the triangular gussets that give the armhole fullness and shape. Around the neck, centre front, side slits, hemline, and sleeve edges, 2.5 cm wide bias binding is used. Because most of the joints are closed and the seams are smooth, there are no raw edges on the inside of these hand-stitched garments.

It’s also worth noting that the Puthia’s colour signifies strong ties between the men, woman and their community. Newborns wear a red puthia with green piping, but in many communities, the colour is changed to white after the child’s first Holi. Unmarried girls in Bishnoi culture wear white puthiya with red piping, whereas Jat girls wear printed red chhints. Unmarried Rajput girls wear puthias made of satin, cotton, brocade, or velvet fabrics with small bright green motifs, usually in yellow or pink with white or red. In Raika community, a subgroup of Rabari community (Pastoralists), men wears white Puthiya with red piping.  Rajasthani men and women wear the puthia to show off their simple elegance, which not only gives them a sombre appearance but also keeps them cool in the scorching heat of the desert.

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