A Parsee School Girl in her traditional dress. Mumbai India 1899.

India, Parsee, clothing, Zoroastrian, costumes
A Parsee School Girl


Among the many strange costumes which attract the eye of a new corner, few appear so grotesque as that of the Parsee young lady, when at that stage of her existence which is prior to the assumption of her outer garment. One gets used to many things in India, but to see a little damsel of ten or eleven years of age, skipping about, without the semblance of either a frock or a petticoat, is at first sight a comical picture.

Her jacket may be of cloth, or of cotton, or silk, according to the season, but it is always cut in the same style, faIling just below the waist. Sometimes little colored silk or satin trousers are worn, reaching to the ankle, and then of course the absence of either a frock or a sari is not so noticeable.

Most young Parsee girls have their hair done up in a knob at the back of the head, as shown in the picture, but this is merely a matter of taste, it being occasionally allowed to hang loose upon the shoulders. A cap, similar in shape to the undress cap worn by the male members of the community, is always their form of headgear, unless a European costume is adopted, and then it is not infrequently difficult to distinguish the little wearer from an English child, except from her surroundings, as the complexion of many Parsees is very fair.

A few are really brown, it is true, but the majority are little darker than the inhabitants of southern Europe. Considering how fluently the men usually speak English, it is surprising to note that the Parsee women folk, as a body, know relatively little of our language.

Occasionally, however, we have exceptions to the rule, and there are now living in Bombay (Mumbai) several young Parsee ladies who, having qualified themselves by passing the necessary· examinations, are earning their living as medical practitioners.

Source: Typical Pictures of Indian Natives. By F. M. Coleman, Time of India 1897.


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