Clothing Matters

Dress and Identity in India

Emma Tarlo

Clothing Matters

Emma Tarlo

382 pages | 90 halftones, 36 line drawings | 7 x 10 | © 1996
Paper $38.00 ISBN: 9780226789767 Published September 1996 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $99.00 ISBN: 9780226789750 Published September 1996 For sale in North and South America only
What do I wear today? The way we answer this question says much about how we manage and express our identities. This detailed study examines sartorial style in India from the late nineteenth century to the present, showing how trends in clothing are related to caste, level of education, urbanization, and a larger cultural debate about the nature of Indian identity.

Clothes have been used to assert power, challenge authority, and instigate social change throughout Indian society. During the struggle for independence, members of the Indian elite incorporated elements of Western style into their clothes, while Gandhi's adoption of the loincloth symbolized the rejection of European power and the contrast between Indian poverty and British wealth. Similar tensions are played out today, with urban Indians adopting "ethnic" dress as villagers seek modern fashions.

Illustrated with photographs, satirical drawings, and magazine advertisements, this book shows how individuals and groups play with history and culture as they decide what to wear.
Glossary of Foreign Words
Preface: Reflections on a Portrait
1: Introduction: The Problem of What to Wear
2: Searching for a Solution in the late Nineteenth Century
3: Gandhi and the Recreation of Indian Dress
4: Is Khadi the Solution?
5: Questions of Dress in a Gujarati Village
6: Some Brahman Dilemmas
7: Some Peasant Dilemmas (Kanbi and Kharak)
8: Some Pastoralist (Bharwad) and Scheduled caste (Harijan) Dilemmas
9: Fashion Fables of an Urban Village
10: Dressing for Distinction: A Historical Review
Postscript: A Return Visit to India, 1993-1994

AAS South Asia Council: Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize

View Recent Awards page for more award winning books.
For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

Chicago Blog: Anthropology

Events in Anthropology

Keep Informed