A Parsee Lady in walking costume with the mathabana over the hair.

India, Parsee, costume, Parsi. clothing, Zoroastrian
Parsee Lady

A PARSEE LADY.

Indian Tattoo Parsee flower

There are no such gaily attired women in the world as the Parsees. Their costumes, though similar in form to those of the Hindus, usually comprise less vivid colors-pale pink, sea green and lemon being favorite shades. The younger members of the community wear stockings and shoes of English shape. 

A strange old custom in Parsee society is for the head of both males and females to be always covered, although there does not appear to be any other reason for this than long usage.

The men, when not wearing their outdoor head covering, put on a round cap, flat at the top, but as this is apparently in many instances only worn to comply with the letter rather than the spirit of the injunction, it is not infrequently worn so small as to forcibly remind us of the appearance of the humble companion of the organ grinder minus the chin strap.

The article worn by the women over their hair is known as a mathabana, and resembles a white pocket-handkerchief. Its use does not improve their personal appearance. In the walking costume, however, the sari, or outside garment, is passed round the shoulders and over the top of the head, so that the mathabana is unobserved, and the tout ensemble is then very graceful.

The most earnest desire and the highest ambition of a Parsee damsel is to secure an eligible husband, but she stands no chance whatever of becoming a bride unless her father pays, and pays handsomely, for the honor. A dowry is necessary, and the older the maiden, the larger the qualifying accompaniment has to become. It is by no means uncommon for a man earning a monthly salary of thirty rupees, to spend six months’ earnings upon the marriage of his daughter. This is not done from a wanton disregard of due economy, but because it is dastoor custom – and custom and caste are the two most far reaching words in the vocabulary of the continent of Hindustan, to whatever class of natives the words may be applied.

Note:  H.H. Raja Shri Sawai Pratap Sinhji Bahadur, Rao Raja of Alwar.

Parsees usually take three meals a day, the constituents of which very nearly resemble those of Europeans. It was formerly the custom for the men to eat first, and then allow the women to finish what was left, after the fashion still adopted by the Hindus. But of late this, and many other old habits, have fallen into disuse, and the meals are now taken together, the family being seated at a table, instead of squatting upon the floor.

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

Related

Leave a Reply


Auguste Racinet. The Costume History by Françoise Tétart-Vittu.

Racinet's Costume History is an invaluable reference for students, designers, artists, illustrators, and historians; and a rich source of inspiration for anyone with an interest in clothing and style. Originally published in France between 1876 and 1888, Auguste Racinet’s Le Costume historique was in its day the most wide-ranging and incisive study of clothing ever attempted.

Covering the world history of costume, dress, and style from antiquity through to the end of the 19th century, the six volume work remains completely unique in its scope and detail. “Some books just scream out to be bought; this is one of them.” ― Vogue.com

The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World Paperback – December 7, 2021
by Virginia Postrel (Author)

From Neanderthal string to 3D knitting, an “expansive” global history that highlights “how textiles truly changed the world” (Wall Street Journal)


FASHIONPEDIA
Fashionpedia - The Visual Dictionary Of Fashion Design

Fashionpedia - The Visual Dictionary Of Fashion Design

FASHIONPEDIA is a visual fashion dictionary covering all the technical terms from style to material to production with illustrations and infographics. It encompasses rich, extensive information and yet is easy to read. Whether you are an industry insider or a fashion connoisseur, FASHIONPEDIA is all you will ever need to navigate the fashion scene.


Textilepedia. The Complete Fabric Guide.

The Textile Manual is an encyclopaedia of textile information, from material to yarn, from fabric structure to the finishing process. Encompassing practical tips for a range of textiles and detailed visuals, this ultra-accessible manual is the perfect companion for fashion aficionados and aspiring fashion designers.


Literature

Couture: then and now Clothes define people. A person's clothing, whether it's a sari, kimono, or business suit, is an essential key to his or her culture, class, personality, or even religion. The Kyoto Costume Institute recognizes the importance of understanding clothing sociologically, historically, and artistically.