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Women from Jaipur, India wearing salwar kameez and dupatta

Dupatta (Hindi: दुपट्टा, Punjabi: ਦੁਪੱਟਾ/ਚੁੰਨੀ, دوپٹا, Urdu: دوپٹا‎) (alternative names include chādar-orni/orna (Bengali: ওড়না), chunri, chunni and pacheri) is a long, multi-purpose scarf that is essential to many South Asian women's suits and matches the woman's garments. The dupatta is most commonly used with shalwar kameez and the kurta, but is also worn over the choli or gharara. The dupatta has long been a symbol of modesty in South Asian dress.[1]

History and origin[edit]

The word dupatta is a combination of 'du-' meaning two, and 'patta' meaning strip of cloth, originally from Sanskrit.[2] The origin of the dupatta can be traced to the Indus valley civilization located in modern-day Pakistan and north west India, where the use of textiles such as ajrak was highly prevalent.[citation needed] A sculpture of the Priest King of Harrapa, whose left shoulder is covered with some kind of a chaddar, suggests that the use of the dupatta dates back to this early Indic culture.[3][4]


A dupatta is traditionally worn across both shoulders. However, the dupatta can be worn like a cape around the entire torso. The material for the dupatta varies according to the suit: cotton, Georgette, silk, chiffon, and more.[citation needed]

There are various modes of wearing an unsewn dupatta. When not draped over the head in the traditional style, it is usually worn with the middle portion of the dupatta resting on the chest like a garland with the ends thrown over each shoulder. When the dupatta is worn with the salwar-kameez it is casually allowed to flow down the front and back.[citation needed]

The primary use of a dupatta is to cover the head and/or any inadvertent cleavage and the contour of the bosom. Muslim women (mostly in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) also wear dupatta in a way that covers their face and only eyes can be seen, this style is also referred to as Niqaab or Hijaab. However, the use of the dupatta has undergone a metamorphosis over time. In current fashions, the dupatta is frequently draped over one shoulder and even over just the arms. Another recent trend is the short dupatta, which is more a scarf or a stole, often worn with kurtas and Indo-Western clothing. Essentially, the dupatta is often treated as an accessory in current urban fashion.[1]

When entering a mosque, dargah, church, gurdwara or mandir, it is the habit in the Indian subcontinent for women to cover their head with a dupatta.[5]


  1. ^ a b Mark Magnier (23 February 2010). "For Pakistani women, dupattas are more than a fashion statement". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ "American Heritage Dictionary Entry: dupatta". www.ahdictionary.com. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-12. 
  3. ^ "Dupatta: a statement of style". 
  4. ^ Condra, Jill (2008). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through World History. Westport, , Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 220. ISBN 978-0-313-33662-1. 
  5. ^ Goldman, Ann; Hain, Richard; Liben, Ann Goldman Richard Hain Stephen (2006). Ox Textbook Palliat Care Child Oxt:ncs C. Oxford University Press. p. 224. ISBN 9780198526537. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 

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