The Nautch girls. Indian dancers.

National costumes of India. The Nautch girls. Indian classical dancers. Dance costume

Hindu Nautch Girls

The Nautch girls. Indian dancers.

On special occasions, such as weddings or parties given in honor of a distinguished visitor, it is the correct thing in native society to give a „nautch,“ or dance. The guests assemble in a large room set apart for the purpose, and seat themselves upon chairs ranged against the walls. At one end of the room, upon the ground, are seated the nautch party, consisting usually of two girls and their attendant musicians, who may be three, four, or more in number, according to the status of the dancers.

National costumes of India. National costumes of India. The Nautch girls. Indian dancers. Dance costume

Mohamedan Nautch Girl

Dancing nautch girl. National costumes of India. Dance costume

Dancing nautch girl

Dancing nautch girl. National costumes of India. Dance costume

Dancing nautch girl with party

Indian dancer. Nautch dance costume

Indian Nautch dancer by Friedrich Hottenroth

The girls are amazingly arrayed in costumes of gorgeous hues, plentifully be spangled with gold, while anklets of tiny silver bells make a soft tinkling sound at every movement of their feet. Behind them stand the musicians, one of whom accompanies the rest upon a tom-tom or native drum, without which no nautch could possibly proceed.
When all the guests have arrived, the girls rise to their feet and, accompanied by the strains of the band, one of them proceeds to advance and retreat in slow and measured steps, waving her arms and rattling the bells upon her ankles in time with the music. The other dancer then does likewise, after which follows a song. All Eastern tunes are set in minor keys, and if we may judge by results, the singer who is capable of bringing forth the notes with the strongest nasal accent is worthy of most praise. It requires an intimate knowledge of the language to be able to follow a song sung in the vernacular; but if the opinions of the natives themselves may be taken upon the subject, the sentiments expressed by the singers on these occasions are poetical indeed.

National costumes of India. National costumes of India. The Nautch girls. Indian musician and dancers clothing.

Madras Nautch Party

The proceedings are varied by first one girl and then the other advancing and retiring, chanting the while in a highly pitched key, and afterwards both advance and retire together. This is continued with slight intervals for many hours, the songs varying according to the occasion and the time of the year, each season having its particular set of melodies. A European has usually had as much of the performance in an hour as he can endure at one sitting, but it is a no uncommon thing for natives to sit up the whole night listening to the music, and watching the gliding movements of the dancers.

Source: Typical pictures of Indian Natives. By F. M. Coleman, 1897.

Related:



  1. Suisse costumes nationaux
  2. Traditional French national costumes.
  3. Tyrolean national costumes 1835.
  4. Souvenir de L’Exposition Universelle de Vienne.
  5. Costumes of Japan and Java.
  6. The Peninsula war. Character, Costume in Portugal and Spain.
  7. Our islands and their people. Hawaii, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba.
  8. Costumes of all countries by Alexandre Lacauchie 1850s.
  9. Historical and folk costumes by Franz Lipperheide.
  10. The costume of Turkey. Ottoman Empire 18th century.
  11. Traditional Dutch national costumes.
  12. The Switzerland national costumes of 17th ‚18th, 19th century originals.
  13. Folk dresses from Norway, Dutch, Germany and Hungaria.
  14. Mexico by Carl Nebel 1836.
  15. Typical pictures of Indian Natives.
  16. The People of India
  17. Views of Darjeeling: With typical native portraits and groups.
  18. History of the Indian Tribes of North America of the Indian Tribes of North America
  19. Chinese sceneries in 19th century. by Thomas Allom.
  20. Provincial Russia. Costume and Culture.
  21. Costume of the Russian empire by Edward Harding.
  22. Serbian national costumes by Vladimir Kirin.
  23. Historical European costumes by Auguste Wahlen.
  24. The Highlanders of Scotland, 1870.
  25. Costumes and scenery of Afghanistan.
  26. Views of Darjeeling: With typical native portraits and groups.
  27. The dark continent. Africa, the landscape and the people 1931.
  28. Historical costumes from Africa, America and Oceania.
  29. Traditional folk costumes of Italy and France in 1821.
  30. The Serbs in the Adriatic. Their types and costumes 1870-1878.
John Grant. The Highlanders of Scotland.
John Grant. JOHN GRANT (1810-1879) at Loch-na-Gar, Aberdeenshire. HER MAJESTY`S HEAD KEEPER A... Read more
1870 • 19th Century • Scotland • Traditional
Tartan • The Clans of the Scottish Highlands • Traditional Scottish National Costume
Romanian Peasant from Săliște Sibiu, Transylvania
Romanian Peasant from Săliște Sibiu, Transylvania. (Tăran din Săliște Sibiu.) Gallery: Roma... Read more
30s • Romania • Traditional
Traditional Romania costumes
Couple in the costumes from the Canton of Neuchâtel.
Couple from the Canton of Neuchâtel. Switzerland national costumes. Gallery: Costumes Suisses de... Read more
1865 • Switzerland • Traditional
Canton of Neuchâtel • Traditional Switzerland costumes
Woman from Uri Schächental. Swiss national costumes.
Woman from Uri Schächental. Source: The Swiss national costumes of XVII - XIX century origin... Read more
19th Century • Switzerland • Traditional
Canton of Uri • Traditional Switzerland costumes
Romanian Peasant from Făgăraș, Transylvania.
Peasant from Făgăraș, Transylvania. (Tăran din Făgăraș, Transilvania.) Gallery: Romanian F... Read more
30s • Romania • Traditional
Traditional Romania costumes
Lucerne Entlebuch. Switzerland national costumes.
People from Lucerne Entlebuch. Source: The Swiss national costumes of XVII - XIX century orig... Read more
19th Century • Switzerland • Traditional
Canton of Lucerne • Traditional Switzerland costumes
Traditional peasant costumes of Geiltal, Austria.
A PEASANT OF THE GEILTAL. THE dress of the men of Geiltal, in former times of an extremely peculi... Read more
1868 • 19th Century • Austria • Traditional
Traditional Australian costumes
Peasant of Torres Vedras Portugal in 1808
PEASANT OF TORRES VEDRAS. THE Peasants of this district are of a stout and hardy constitution... Read more
1808 • 19th Century • Hat • Portugal • Traditional
Portuguese costumes • The War in the Peninsula