The term kurta, pronounced [ˈkʊrt̪aː], (Urdu: كُرتا, Persian: كُرتہ, Hindi: कुर्ता) is a generic term used in South Asia for several forms of upper garments for men and women, with regional variations of form.
The word "kurta" is a borrowing from Hindustani, originally from either Sanskrit kuratu/kurtaka or Persian (literally, "a collarless shirt"). It was first used in English in the 20th century.
Kurta is a piece of clothing worn by males of all ages preferably by older men and politicians in India who use white colour, while the young men wear the Kurta in brighter colours and middle or older aged men wear the Kurta in white and off-white colours. Kurta are usually worn on a day-to-day basis as a home or a casual dress for fashion and is also 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.
It is a traditional dress for men in Central, West and South Asia. It is a long shirt cut to local designs and is worn in the whole of Afghanistan (where the design is that of Perahan or Khet), Pakistan, Iran (where it is known as pirahan) and Northern Indian states namely, Jammu, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. A similar dress known as the angarkha is traditionally worn in Gujarat and Rajasthan which is somewhat shorter in length than a usual Kurta and has a wider end similar to lower part of a Ghagra. A variation of the angarkha is worn in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. In India, Hindus wear it along with Dhoti or Paijama whereas Muslims wear it along with Shalwar or Paijama. Sikhs will wear the kurta with a Paijama or tehmat.
Among young boys it is common to wear Kurta with Jeans.
Reach of the kurta
A kurta (Urdu: كُرتا), Persian:كُرتہ, pronounced [ˈkʊrt̪aː]; (also kurti for a shorter version for women) is a traditional item of clothing worn in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It is a loose shirt falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by men. They were traditionally worn with loose-fitting paijama (kurta-paijama), loose-fitting shalwars, semi-tight (loose from the waist to the knees, and tight from the calves to the ankles churidars, or wrapped-around dhotis; but are now also worn with jeans. Kurtas are worn both as casual everyday wear and as formal dress.
Imported kurtas were fashionable in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, as an element of hippie 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.
A traditional kurta consists of rectangular fabric pieces with perhaps a few gusset 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 plackets 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 achkans, sherwanis, and Nehru jackets.
Indian subcontinent has a very popular styling of Mukatsari kurta (getting its origin from the province of Mukatsar in Punjab (India)) which is famous for its slim fitting cuts and smart fit designs. It is very popular among young politicians.
A blue khadi kurta
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 (as in Kashmiri kurtas) or Khadi silk, a thick, coarse, handspun and handwoven silk that may be mixed with other fibers. A very common fabric for kurta pajama these days is linen, or linen cotton mix ideal for both summers and winters.
Kurtas are typically fastened with tasselled ties, cloth balls and loops, or buttons. Ready-made kurtas often avoid the use of horn buttons, in deference to Hindu 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.
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 embroidery, a speciality of Lucknow, 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 and Dhoti Kurta are often worn with jeans. Women sometimes wear kurtas as blouses, usually over jeans pants. Jeans are sometimes preferred over pajamas or leggings as they are more durable for rough use. Most colours kurtas match with blue jeans.
Leggings and ladies kurta
Ladies kurtas blouses, among with leggings are most popular in India, Pakistan, Singapore and Malaysia. Especially 46 inch long length kurta are popular in 2013. Major production of regular wear ladies kurta are at Mumbai, Delhi, Ahemdabad India. Modern leggings are typically made from a blend of lycra fabrics and manufactured in city of India known as Tirupur.
Muslim Pahari (Hill) women in kurtis, Kashmir, 1890.
In India, Kurta is a very popular dress among the political class. Almost all the politicians are seen wearing a crisp white kurta made from khadi. Kurta also reflects India's culture and tradition. On any auspicious day or festivals, people are seen wearing colourful kurtas. Sometimes, kurtas having collars are also worn.
- Merriam Webster: Kurta
- Ghurye, Govind (1966). Indian Costume. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. p. 118. ISBN 81-7154-403-7. Retrieved 2015-05-12.
A Chinese dictionary of the latter half of the 8th century A.D. lists 'kuratu' as the Sanskrit equivalent of a Chinese word which means skirt. And Al-Biruni later noted that females in North India wore 'kurtaka', which was a short skirt extending from the shoulders to the middle of the body and had sleeves.
- McGregor, R. S. (ed.). 1993. The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 1083 pages. ISBN 0-19-563846-8.
- Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition. 1989. The first use is attributed to W.G. Lawrence in T. E. Lawrence, Home Letters, 1913, "Me in a dhoti khurta, White Indian clothes."
- Lee Broad (2011) The Masada Protocol 
- "Regal chic", The Telegraph, Calcutta, April 24, 2004. Quote: "The first sequence was a range of traditional saris in silk and cotton, moving on to kurtis and jeans and short kurtas in silk and georgette."
- [Yet, jeans are among the most comfortable outfits as they can go with just about anything, a short top or even a kurta.]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kurtas.|
- Tarlo, Emma (1996): Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 382 pages. ISBN 0-226-78976-4.
- Bhandari, Vandana (2004): Costumes, Textiles, and Jewellery of India. Mercury Books. 192 pages. ISBN 1-904668-89-5.