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The term angarkha, also called angrakha, refers to a traditional upper garment worn by men in the Indian Subcontinent which overlaps and is tied to the left or right shoulder. The angrakha was a court outfit that a person could wrap around himself, offering flexible ease with the knots and ties appropriate for wearing in the various principalities of ancient India. It is worn particularly in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and in Pakistan much like the Achkan and Sherwani.

Display of various styles of Angarkha worn by men, Delhi textile museum
Chandragupta II depicted with angharka on gold coinage, Gupta Empire


The term angarkha is derived from the Sanskrit word aṅgarakṣaka, which means protection of the body.[1] The angarkha was worn in various parts of the Indian Subcontinent, but while the basic cut remained the same, the style and length varied from region to region.[2]


Some styles of the angarkha can be short. However, the angarkha can also be a long coat, or it can be a long tunic which is tied to either the left or right shoulder.[3] Sometimes, cotton jackets or tops are worn underneath the angarkha.[4]

Another style of angarkha is a sort of shirt worn under the jama and tied in two places on each side of the body. The angarkha also refers to a short calico vest with sleeves which descends only to the haunches. Instead of being fastened on both sides, is tied on one side only.[5]

Gujarati and Rajasthani styles[edit]

A similar dress to the kurta known as the angarkha is traditionally worn in Gujarat and Rajasthan[6] which is somewhat shorter in length than a straight cut Kurta and has a wider end similar to lower part of a ghagra.The front opens at either shoulder and the bottom has a wide end which flares out. Some styles incorporate a placket.

The Rajasthani angarkha falls just below the waist[7] in loose vertical gathers.[8]

In Gujarat, men in parts of Kutch wear the angarkha, also called the jama,[9] which has an asymmetric opening with the skirt flaring out to around the hips.[10] However, some styles fall to below the knees.

Rajasthani bandia angarkha[edit]

Another type of angarkha worn in Rajasthan is the bandia angarkha, also known as bandi,[11][12] and angarkhi[13] worn above the waist and fastened with tapes either over the chest or on the shoulder, with long arms and narrow sleeves. The prints on the Rajasthani garments include sanganer prints which are of local origin.[14]


The traditional dress of Bihari people is the mirjai which is a modified form of the flowing robe (known as the jama)[15] fastened on the right.[16][17] The mirjai is an under jacket with long loose sleeves and open cuffs.

Gujarati kediyu[edit]

The kediyu is worn in Gujarat. It is a long sleeved upper garment, pleated at the chest and reaching to the waist.[18][19] Some designs however flare out to the knees. The prints on the kediyu include bandhani designs which are local to Gujarat and Rajasthan.[20]

Punjabi angarkha[edit]

A garment worn by women in the Punjab region was the anga (gown also known as an angarkha[21][22] and peshwaj)[23] which is similar to a loose coat and wadded with cotton.[24] The women's anga flowed to the ankles. The angarkha also forms part of the male clothing in the Punjab region;[25] it is a loose tunic[26] that falls to below the knees,[27] is fastened with a flap to the side and is worn with a front opening kurta.[28] Men still wear the angarkha in Haryana which fastens to the left or right shoulder and Himachal Pradesh.

Chamba angarkhi[edit]

The Chamba angarkhi of Himachal Pradesh is sewn tight at the torso, but below the waist it has an open fall like the modern skirt. The angarkhi is tied at the waist with a sash.[30]

Kalidar angarkha[edit]

In Uttarakhand, men traditionally wear the kalidar angarkha which has many panels.[31]


A variation of the angarkha is worn in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh,[32] Maharashtra[33] and Bengal (Angrakha) where the traditional male upper garment is the overlapping and string tied garment.[34]

Sindhi angerkho[edit]

The Sindhi angerkho is fastened to the left shoulder and is knee length. Modern versions can be shorter.

Other related garments[edit]


Another upper garment worn in Gujarat is the jhabbho which is a long robe.[35] The jhabho is also called the abho which is also worn by women of Rajasthan. The garment is loose, with short, wide sleeves, open at the neck, loose-fitting on the upper part and very flared at the skirt. The abho is often decorated in embroidery and mirror work.[36]


A short sleeve cotton shirt, without a collar,[37] to the waist (called saluka[38] or ganji)[39] is traditionally worn in Uttar Pradesh.[40] The saluka is also traditionally worn in Madhya Pradesh.[41]

Sindhi cholo[edit]

The female Sindhi cholo[42][43] is loose fitting,[44] and is made in a variety of ways, including the traditional method of the cholo opening at the front to the waist,[45][46] with very wide sleeves.[47] The traditional cholo can reach down to the ankles.[48]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zaira Mis, Marcel Mis (2001) Asian Costumes and Textiles: From the Bosphorus to Fujiama [1]
  2. ^ Kumar, Ritu (2006) Costumes and textiles of royal India[2]
  3. ^ Wilson, Horace Hayman (1855) A Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms: And of Useful Words Occurring in Official Documents Relating to the Administration of the Government of British India, from the Arabic, Persian, Hindustání, Sanskrit, Hindí, Bengálí, Uriya, Maráthi, Guazráthí, Telugu, Karnáta, Tamil, Malayálam, and Other Languages [3]
  4. ^ Census of India, 1961, Volume 8, Part 6, Issue 1 [4]
  5. ^ Carpenter, Horace W. (1866) The textile manufactures and the costumes of the people of India [5]
  6. ^ S. And Sahgal, Malik Gettingahead In Social Studies:, Book 3
  7. ^ Indian & Foreign Review, Volume 22 (1984)
  8. ^ Vijaya Ghose, Jaya Ramanathan, Renuka N. Khandekar (1992) Tirtha, the Treasury of Indian Expressions. [6]
  9. ^ Tierney, Tom (2013) Fashions from India
  10. ^ Sarosh Medhora (02.09.2000) The Tribune. Focus on men’s formals
  11. ^ Bhandari, Vandana (2005) Costume, textiles and jewellery of India: traditions in Rajasthan [7]
  12. ^ Ghurye, Govind Sadashiv (1966) Indian Costume
  13. ^ Rajasthan [district Gazetteers].: Baran (1997) [8]
  14. ^ Koṭhārī, Gulāba (1995) Colourful textiles of Rajasthan
  15. ^ Winer, Lise (2009) Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago: On Historical Principles [9]
  16. ^ O`malley, L.S.S. (1924) Bihar And Orissa Gazetteers Shahabad
  17. ^ The Eastern Anthropologist, Volumes 27-28 (1974)
  18. ^ Swaminarayan (2006) Vachanamrut
  19. ^ Simran Ahuja (2014) Nine Nights: Navratri
  20. ^ Murphy, Veronica and Crill, Rosemary (1991) Tie-dyed Textiles of India: Tradition and Trad [10]
  21. ^ Rajaram Narayan Saletore (1974) Sex Life Under Indian Rulers
  22. ^ Panjab University Research Bulletin: Arts, Volume 13, Issue 1 - Volume 14, Issue 1 (1982) [11]
  23. ^ B. N. Goswamy, Kalyan Krishna, Tarla P. Dundh (1993) Indian Costumes in the Collection of the Calico Museum of Textiles, Volume 5 [12]
  24. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers - District Attock Year Published 1930 BK-000211-0160 [13]
  25. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh, V. Bhalla, Swaran Singh (1997) Chandigarh [14]
  26. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers: Ibbetson series, 1883-1884]. [15]
  27. ^ Punjab gazetteers, 1883, bound in 10 vols., without title-leaves (1883) [16]
  28. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers Karnal 1919 [17]
  29. ^ Gupta, Hari Ram (1991) History of the Sikhs: The Sikh lion of Lahore, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, 1799-1839 [18]
  30. ^ Kamal Prashad Sharma, Surinder Mohan Sethi (1997) Costumes and Ornaments of Chamba[19]
  31. ^ Uttar Pradesh District Gazetteers: Uttarkashi 1979 [20]
  32. ^ Public Relations Department, Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh Cultural Heritage [21]
  33. ^ Mohanty, P.K (2006) Encyclopaedia of Scheduled Tribes in India: In Five Volume [22]
  34. ^ Asoke Kumar Bhattacharyya, Pradip Kumar Sengupta (1991) Foundations of Indian Musicology: Perspectives in the Philosophy of Art and Culture [23]
  35. ^ Nair, Usha (1979) Gujarati Phonetic Reader
  36. ^ Maitra, K.K (2007) Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Clothing and Textiles
  37. ^ Sameera Maiti (2004) The Tharu: Their Arts and Crafts[24]
  38. ^ Uttar Pradesh District Gazetteers: Deoria (1998)
  39. ^ Singh, K. S. Anthropological Survey of India (2005) Uttar Pradesh, Volume 1 [25]
  40. ^ Census of India, 1961: Uttar Pradesh
  41. ^ Madhya Pradesh: district gazetteers, Volume 31 (1994)
  42. ^ I am a Sindhi: The Glorious Sindhi Heritage and Culture and Folklore of Sindh J P Vaswami
  43. ^ Sindh and The Races That Inhabit the Valley of the Indus Richard F Burton
  44. ^ Askari, Nasreen and Crill, Rosemary Colours of the Indus: Costume and Textiles of Pakistan (1997) [26]
  45. ^ Perspective, Volume 3, Issue 2 (1970)
  46. ^ Weekly of Pakistan, Volume 20, Issues 27-39 (1968)
  47. ^ Papers by Command, Volume 68. Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons H.M. Stationery Office, 1979 - Legislation [27]
  48. ^ Chaukhandi tombs in Pakistan (1996)