Deccani Style & Men's Fashion: Splendour Revisited

The textile collection of the Salar Jung Museum has both vastness and variety. Some Deccani specimens from the Nizam's period are showcased in this exhibit.

By Salar Jung Museum

Salar Jung Musuem

Salar Jung III in a Sherwani (20th century)Salar Jung Museum

Deccani Style & Men's Fashion: splendour revisited

Dress and fashion of 19th century Hyderabad (part of Deccan region) included 'angrakhas', 'neema' and 'jama'. During the last quarter of the 19th century the 'achkan', a fitted cape and 'angrakha' developed with a few improvements into the sherwani which extended slightly below the knee and had four pockets, two upper and two on the sides, and seven buttons in front and sometimes with a flap on the upper pocket. 

Portrait of Azizuddin Alamgir Sani (1601/1699)Salar Jung Museum

Before the 'sherwani', the popular male attire was the 'angarkha'.

The complete attire, from head to toe, then became:
- a 'dastar', the headgear
- an 'angarkha', the open upper garment that can be tied to the waist; or a ''choga', long sleeved and flaring garment; or a 'sherwani', an overcoat style upper garment
- a 'patka', the sash or waist band to go along with the angarkha or choga
- 'churidar', the leggings
- slip-on shoes

Mir Laiq Ali Khan, Salar Jung IISalar Jung Museum

The 'sherwani' became very popular among all the public in Hyderabad during the rule of Nizam VI and Nizam VII during the first half of the 20th century. It used to be worn with 'dastar' (headgear). The sherwani is still popular and worn with a loose pyjama or a tight churidar. Sherwanis are available in wool, silk, cotton and khadi.

For special occasions Sherwanis made of gold threads, kimkhab, zarbaft, mushajjar, himroo etc. with coloured floral designs were used. Salar Jung II, pictured here, introduced handloom sherwanis.

Sherwani (1701/1799)Salar Jung Museum

Brocade sherwani
18th century

Brocade sherwani in floral designs and zari work, red and violet flowers are prominent.

You can see the details of the floral pattern in zari work.

Sherwani (19th century)Salar Jung Museum

Floral Sherwani
19th century

A sherwani bearing yellow floral design in blue colour.

Himroo Sherwani Himroo Sherwani (19th century)Salar Jung Museum

Himroo sherwani
19th century

Himroo sherwani bearing floral designs running in vertical lines. White floral designs in vertical panels.

Himroo SherwaniSalar Jung Museum

Sherwani (19th century)Salar Jung Museum

Floral sherwani
19th century

A sherwani bearing floral designs in vertical lines. Alternate lines show clove design.

Salar Jung III in a Sherwani (20th century)Salar Jung Museum

Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III in a sherwani seen at Dewan Deodi, his ancestral palace.

Salar Jung III's Unifrom (20th century)Salar Jung Museum

20th century

Black uniform of Salar Jung III decorated with sequin work over the cuffs, neck and shoulders with row of eight leaves each on either side of the buttons.

Kimkhab Sherwani (20th century)Salar Jung Museum

Kimkhab sherwani
20th century

Elegant kimkhab sherwani having floral design in red and green colour with six buttons in the centre.

Salar Jung II with Nobles and Others (Late 19th century)Salar Jung Museum

Salar Jung II, Nawab Mir Laiq Ali Khan, seen with other nobles, in different types of headgear (dastars) and sherwanis prevalent at the time.

Portrait of Tipu Sultan (1901/1999)Salar Jung Museum

Dastar/ Headgears

The dastars (headgear) was an important part of nobility’s dress by which a family of the person could be recognised. They came in many colours; white, green, pink and yellow. The pughree and topi (Turkish cap) was also used. The topi had names like Masri topi, Rumi topi etc.

Salar Jung III in a Sherwani (20th century)Salar Jung Museum

The dastars (headgear) was an important part of nobility’s dress by which a family of the person could be recognised. They came in many colours; white, green, pink and yellow. The pughree and topi (Turkish cap) was also used. The topi had names like Masri topi, Rumi topi etc.

In this picture is Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung III in a white pagadi and striped sherwani, seen at Dewan Deodi, his ancestral palace.

Dastar (Headgear), From the collection of: Salar Jung Museum
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Headgear called Dastar worn by gentlemen in Hyderabad, white in colour with front raised on frill around crown.

Nizam VII at Dewan Deodi (20th century)Salar Jung Museum

Nizam VII, Salar Jung III and other nobles at Dewan Deodi.

The sherwani and dastars are clearly prominent as a popular Deccani mode of dressing of the time.

King with Attendant (18th century)Salar Jung Museum

MEN'S COSTUME : regal styles

Men’s costume has evolved over time in India. During the Mughal period of India it consisted of tight fitting trousers, a long coat fitting up to the waist and then flowing out in a full   skirt with tight sleeves. They wore a closely tied turban on the head. Up to Emperor Akbar’s time Persian dress was worn by most Muslims, but during his reign the Rajput dress was also adopted. A jama (meaning garment) was worn which had its origin in Persia and  was tight around the torso but flared like skirt to below the knees. Akbar introduced wearing of the shal (shawl). During Emperor Shahjehan’s reign the dress was lengthened and by the 18th century the skirt became fuller and was gathered into a high waist. 

Another long sleeved robe, worn by men on special occasions is the ‘choga’. The choga were made loose enough to be be worn over jamas and angarkhas. It is usually very attractive and made of wool or silk. If it is made of muslin it is worn in summers. The muslin ‘chogas’ are lightly embroidered with ‘buties'. The pagdi or turban was a universal headgear which proclaimed a man’s status, religion and place of origin.

Here, a king stands with his attendant, with the king wearing a red brocade choga, brocade patka, a pearl necklace, earrings and a royal pagdi (turban). The attendant is wearing a yellow choga holding a fly-whisk made of peacock feathers, in another hand he holds a piece of cloth.

Opaque water colour painting from Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, 1750 A.D.

Choga (Men's Upper Garment), 19th century, From the collection of: Salar Jung Museum
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Kimkhab choga
19th century

Red velvet bordered kimkhab choga in yellowish floral designs. Green zari border stitched around the bottom and neck.

Nobleman holding an eagle (1501/1599)Salar Jung Museum

Angarkha's appeal

‘Angarkha’ is a traditional upper garment which was a court outfit and which a person could wrap around himself, offering him flexibility with tying of the knots. The word ‘angarkha’ is derived from Sanskrit word ‘Angaraksaka’ which means protection of the body. The style and length varied from region to region. It can be a long coat or a long tunic which is tied to either the left or right shoulder. Variations of the ‘Angarkha’ are mainly in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. 

Maroon Jamdani, Men's Costume, 18th century, From the collection of: Salar Jung Museum
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Men's costume 18th century

Karchobi is a kind of raised metallic thread embroidery. Kimkhab is a kind of brocade woven with silk and gold or silver threads. During the 17th, 18th and 19th century it was set with precious stones too.

Maroon color jamdani with zari work costume (Man's upper loose garment), having 3 petals flower design in linear panels. Karchobi borders stitched around the neck, waist, shoulders and wrist, front side and bottom. Four Karchobi tassels stitched at the neck and 3 at the right arm pit. Karchobi patka matching the above.

Angarakha, 18th century, From the collection of: Salar Jung Museum
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18th century

Dacca (Dhaka) muslin angarkha (man's upper loose garment). Tash work border at neck, shoulders, waist, wrists, front and lower end with Dacca muslin 'patka' with tash border around and golden fringe at the ends.

Men's costume Men's costume, 19th century, From the collection of: Salar Jung Museum
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Bridegroom's attire 19th century

Indian weddings are grand affairs with rituals and clothes in which the bride and groom wear gorgeous outfits and look splendid. The guests and relatives too dress up and make the occasion an event to remember. The bride wears auspicious coloured clothes, jewellery and henna on her hands and feet. The groom wears regal outfits. Everyone wears jewellery and the women from the family attending the wedding have henna designs on their hands. Indian weddings give importance to rituals and the attire one wears to attend them.

Showcased is a dazzling costume with pendants, for the bridegroom from the 19th century.

Tash cloth (gents upper garment) having three pendents stitched on neck and two on right shoulder. Karchobi work all over for a bridegroom.

Men's costume, From the collection of: Salar Jung Museum
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Seated Raja (1750/1750)Salar Jung Museum

Seated King with Noblemen

The King or Raja is seen in this painting seated under a canopy, in discussion with a noble man and Jogin with a Tanpura (musical instrument). The Raja and nobleman are both wearing an angarakha, but with different patterns. The clothes of the Raja, noble man and Jogin are distinct and indicative of their status.

Painting of Nobleman (18th century)Salar Jung Museum

Patka/ Sash

A textile item called 'patka', a girdle, was used during Mughal times and later, to round off the male costume either draped over the shoulders or tied around the waist with their ends hanging down in the front.

Banarasi Patka (20th century)Salar Jung Museum

The patka was made in different colours and was sometimes embellished with painted, embroidered or woven designs. The amount of embellishment depended on the social status of the wearer.

Men used the patka to display their wealth by tucking ceremonial daggers and other precious objects into the fabric. Golconda was important centres for Patkas. The patka is still worn by men in India at traditional events.

Banarasi patka
20th century

This is Banarasi cream coloured zari woven Patka with animals, or a Shikargah scene, in the centre panel.

Banarasi Patka (19th century)Salar Jung Museum

Banarasi patka
19th century

Mauve (piece) colour Banarasi patka having zari flower creeper design and leafy borders. A piece stitched at one end and when both the ends are put together full turanj design is formed.

Patola Patka (Sash) (19th century)Salar Jung Museum

Patola patka
19th century

Patola patka in geometrical and floral designs. A separate small piece depicting three turanj and floral designs is stitched at one original place to the patka. Red striped borders.

Silk Patka (Early 19th century)Salar Jung Museum

Silk patka
early 19th century

Dark green silk patka having dotted designs all over. Border flower creeper in pink, green, lemon and black against silver background around. Flower plant and flower creeper in pink, green and lemon with silver background and fringe at both the ends.

SlippersSalar Jung Museum

Velvet slippers
19th century

Pair of slippers with velvet mount and Karchobi work having heel and curved at the mouth.

Painting of Nobleman (18th century)Salar Jung Museum

Nobleman, Pahari miniature painting
18th century

Credits: Story

References :

Salar Jung Museum Silver Jubilee Celebrations : Souvenir,1976. Hyderabad : Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad,1976.
Dr. M . A Nayeem/ The splendour of Hyderabad, Hyderabad: Hyderabad Publishers, 2002.
Tarannum Fatma Lari/Textiles of Banaras : yesterday and today, Varanasi: Indica Books,2010.
Jamila Brij Bhushan/The costumes and textiles of India, Bombay : D. B.Taraporevala Sons & Co Pvt. Ltd.,1958

Credits :

Exhibition Script, Curation, and Compilation -
Soma Ghosh
Photography – M. Krishnamurthy and Bahadur Ali
Special thanks to - Dr. A. Nagender Reddy, Jt.Director, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad and all other staff.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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