Kurta

Kurta

Overview


A kurta is a traditional item of clothing
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

 worn in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 , Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by both men and women. They were traditionally worn with loose-fitting paijama (kurta-paijama), loose-fitting salwars, semi-tight (loose from the waist to the knees, and tight from the calves to the ankles churidar
Churidar
Churidars , or more properly churidar pyjamas , are tightly fitting trousers worn by both men and women in South Asia and Central Asia. Churidars are a variant of the common salwar pants. Salwars are cut wide at the top and narrow at the ankle. Churidars narrow more quickly, so that contours of the...

s, or wrapped-around dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

s; but are now also worn with jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

.
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Encyclopedia


A kurta is a traditional item of clothing
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

 worn in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 , Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by both men and women. They were traditionally worn with loose-fitting paijama (kurta-paijama), loose-fitting salwars, semi-tight (loose from the waist to the knees, and tight from the calves to the ankles churidar
Churidar
Churidars , or more properly churidar pyjamas , are tightly fitting trousers worn by both men and women in South Asia and Central Asia. Churidars are a variant of the common salwar pants. Salwars are cut wide at the top and narrow at the ankle. Churidars narrow more quickly, so that contours of the...

s, or wrapped-around dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

s; but are now also worn with jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

. Kurtas are worn both as casual everyday wear and as formal dress.

Women often wear kurti
Kurti
Kurti may refer to:*Kurti, Sudan a town in Sudan* Kurti, Azad Kashmir - A small village near Kotli District of Azad Kashmir. The village is famous for its natural beauty and having one of the Country's top educational institute....

s as blouse
Blouse
A blouse is a loose-fitting upper garment that was formerly worn by workmen, peasants, artists, women and children. It is typically gathered at the waist so that it hangs loosely over the wearer's body. Today, the word most commonly refers to a woman's shirt but can also refer to a man's shirt if...

s, usually over jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

. These kurtis are typically much shorter than the traditional garments and made with a lighter materials, like those used in sewing kameez.

Imported kurtas were fashionable in the 1960s and 1970s, as an element of hippie
Hippie
The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The etymology of the term 'hippie' is from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco's...

 fashion, fell from favor briefly, and are now again fashionable. South Asian women may also wear this Western adaptation of South Asian fashion.

Formal kurtas are usually custom-made by South Asian tailors, who work with the fabric their customers bring them. South Asians overseas and Westerners, can buy them at South Asian clothing stores or order them from web retailers.

Etymology


The word "kurta" is a borrowing from Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

, and originally from Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 (literally, "a collarless shirt") and was first used in English in the 20th century.

Kurta is a piece of clothing worn by males, it is usually worn for fashion, tradition and culture. As the Thawb is encouraged to be worn in Saudi Arabia, Pakistani and Indian expatriates rather prefer to wear the Kurta as a close and same version to the Arab clothing.

Styles


A traditional kurta is composed of rectangular fabric pieces with perhaps a few gusset
Gusset
In sewing, a gusset is a triangular or rhomboid piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add breadth or reduce stress from tight-fitting clothing...

 inserts, and is cut so as to leave no wasted fabric. The cut is usually simple, although decorative treatments can be elaborate.

The sleeves of a traditional kurta fall straight to the wrist; they do not narrow, as do many Western-cut sleeves. Sleeves are not cuffed, just hemmed and decorated.

The front and back pieces of a simple kurta are also rectangular. The side seams are left open for 6-12 inches above the hem, which gives the wearer some ease of movement.

The kurta usually opens in the front; some styles, however, button at the shoulder seam. The front opening is often a hemmed slit in the fabric, tied or buttoned at the top; some kurtas, however, have placket
Placket
A placket is an opening in the upper part of trousers or skirts, or at the neck or sleeve of a garment. Plackets are almost always used to allow clothing to be put on or removed easily, but are sometimes used purely as a design element...

s rather than slits. The opening may be centered on the chest, or positioned off center.

A traditional kurta does not have a collar. Modern variants may feature stand-up collars of the type known to tailors and seamstresses as "mandarin" collars. These are the same sort of collars seen on achkan
Achkan
Achkan is a long jacket worn in South Asia, and together with the Sherwani, is traditionally associated with the Northern Indian aristocracy.-History:...

s, sherwani
Sherwani
Sherwani is a long coat-like garment worn in South Asia, very similar to an Achkan or doublet, and is traditionally associated with the Muslim aristocracy of the northern Indian subcontinent....

s, and Nehru jacket
Nehru jacket
The Nehru jacket is a hip-length tailored coat for men or women, created in India in the 1940s. The jacket essentially blends the collar of the achkan, historically the royal court dress of Indian nobles, with the Western suit jacket...

s.


Image:Kurta closeup sandalwood buttons.jpg|Close up of Chikan embroidery and wood (sandalwood) cuff links style buttons on kurta
Image:Kurta.JPG|A modern shin-length embroidered silk kurta
Image:Kurta closeup side open knot2.jpg|Close up of knot-and-loop button for a "side open" Kurta


Image:Kurta ornate side open chikan2.jpg|Side-opening Chikan kurta with semi-precious-stone cuff-links-style buttons
Image:Kurta closeup ornate cufflinks buttons.jpg|Close up of semi-precious-stone cuff-links-style buttons
Image:Kurta sideopen silkcloseup2.jpg|Close up of side-open silk kurta with Chikan embroidery

Material


Kurtas worn in the summer months are usually made of thin silk or cotton fabrics; winter season kurtas are made of thicker fabric such as wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

 (as in Kashmiri kurtas) or Khadi
Khadi
The term khādī or khaddar means cotton. khādī is Indian handspun and hand-woven cloth. The raw materials may be cotton, silk, or wool, which are spun into threads on a spinning wheel called a charkha. It is a versatile fabric, cool in the summer and warm in the winter...

 silk
, a thick, coarse, handspun and handwoven silk that may be mixed with other fibers.

Kurtas are typically fastened with tasseled ties, cloth balls and loops, or buttons. Ready-made kurtas often avoid the use of horn buttons, in deference to Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 sentiments; such buttons are frequently made from cow or buffalo hooves or horns. Buttons are often wood or plastic. Kurtas worn on formal occasions might feature decorative metal buttons, which are not sewn to the fabric, but, like cufflinks, are fastened into the cloth when needed. Such buttons can be decorated with jewels, enameling, and other traditional jewelers' techniques.

Decoration


South Asian tailors command a vast repertoire of methods, traditional and modern, for decorating fabric. It is likely that all of them have been used, at one time or another, to decorate kurtas. However, the most common decoration is embroidery. Many light summer kurtas feature Chikan
Chikan (embroidery)
Chikan is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow, India. Literally translated, the word means embroidery. Believed to have been introduced by Nur Jehan, Mughal emperor Jahangir's wife, it is one of Lucknow's most famous textile decoration styles....

 embroidery, a speciality of Lucknow
Lucknow
Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh in India. Lucknow is the administrative headquarters of Lucknow District and Lucknow Division....

, around the hems and front opening. This embroidery is typically executed on light, semi-transparent fabric in a matching thread. The effect is ornate but subtle.

Jeans and Kurta


Kurtas often worn with jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

. Women often wear kurtis as blouse
Blouse
A blouse is a loose-fitting upper garment that was formerly worn by workmen, peasants, artists, women and children. It is typically gathered at the waist so that it hangs loosely over the wearer's body. Today, the word most commonly refers to a woman's shirt but can also refer to a man's shirt if...

s, usually over jeans pant. Jeans is sometimes preferred over Pajamas
Pajamas
Pajamas, also spelled pyjamas , can refer to several related types of clothing. The original paijama are loose, lightweight trousers fitted with drawstring waistbands and worn in South and West Asia by both sexes...

 or leggings
Leggings
Leggings are a type of fitted clothing covering the legs, which can be worn by both men and women.Originally leggings were two separate garments, one for each leg....

 as it is more durable for rough use. Most colors kurtas match with blue jeans.

Designs and Variety in Kurta & Kurti

History



Image:Muslim scholar2 in kurta1860eastbengal.jpg|Muslim scholar in kurta, East Bengal (Bangladesh), 1860
Image:Pahari women kashmir1890.jpg|Muslim Pahari
Pahari people
The Pahari people, ; also called Pahadi, Parbati, Khāsā, or Chhetri, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group of the Himalaya living in Nepal, India, and Pakistan. In Nepal, the Pahari constituted the single largest ethnic group at about 20,000,000, or three-fifths of the Nepalese population through the 1990s...

(Hill) women in kurtis, Kashmir, 1890.
Image:Dom man2 kurta eastbengal1860.jpg|Hindu Dom man in short kurta, East Bengal (Bangladesh), 1860.