Search Results for: tamil saree girls

Tamil girls in Saree – they look like little dolls

Tamil girls in Saree   they look like little dolls    saree history

You can see a half saree, a full saree, and various other outfits. I love this picture. look at the proud and sweet smiles on each of them.


Turn of the Century Tamil Style

Turn of the Century Tamil Style    vintage sarees saree history

This slightly damaged postcard shows a neat mix of Western fashion and South Indian styling. Two of the girls wear their sarees over trendy blouses and the third has a traditional little choli – all three sporting loads of jewellery with tight belts the focal point. Seated lower down, the fourth girl appears to be in a basque bodice and skirt, a more old-fashioned Euro outfit. I especially like the checked saree with the satin blouse.

Madras Girls a Century Ago

Madras Girls a Century Ago     vintage sarees saree history

Here’s another postcard, tinted and printed about 1905-1910 and sold by Spencer & Co., a prominent department store in Madras.  Nine school girls were photographed in a studio wearing nice sarees and probably more jewellery than they wore to class.  I like the neat white saree with red borders, pallu in front and warp threads visible.  As usual, the colors are a bit off in placement and selection, but the girls are so sweet and focused in their poses. 

Looking at them one can’t help but wonder what they saw throughout the rest of their lives – surely Independence, possibly changing Madras State to Tamil Nadu a generation later, but not the contested renaming the city of Madras to Chennai in 1996.

This Sunday: Vintage Sarees from South India


This Sunday: Vintage Sarees from South India    vintage sarees saree history

Two Tamil ladies exhibit unexpected panache in this high-quality postcard photograph.  Both wear drapes with the pallu wrapped over the shoulder and around the waist, but it’s the two distinctly individual fabrics that make me love this image!  The standing model neatly displays a smooth, straight and shorter cotton saree with body and attitude.  Seated, the other shows a crinkled, sheer check that spreads voluminously.  We can almost “feel” these materials, enjoying a virtual tactile experience from many decades ago. 

Happily, very similar sarees are still loomed by hand across India, not just in the southern states.   From airy and delicate to tightly polished, such expressive textiles show up on modern women, even film actresses, once in a while.   Today’s fashion and home goods designers also add vintage elements to clothing and accessories by cutting up new cotton sarees for constructed garments and pillows.  And in case you wondered, the traditional cottons outnumber everything else in my personal saree collection about six-to-one!


Manjal Neerattu Vizha function – coming of age and ready to wear a saree


The Tamil Manjal Neerattu Vizha ‘function’ (’Turmeric Bathing Ceremony’) is the last part of the coming of age celebration for a Tamil girl. This is done after the girl’s first menstruation, and marks her transition into womanhood.

Ritual is not too dissimilar to a marriage ceremony, when lot of relatives and neighbors come to visit the girl and give presents to her. After this the girl will have to start wearing half saree or sarees which she means she has to protect her body. It is also called Rithumathi celebration in Kerala.

The young woman is dressed almost like a bride, with a silk saree, and much gold jewelry. Some say that this function is the announcement of a marriageable woman, and serves as notice to prospective husbands and their families of a bridal possibility.

Wikepedia describes it as: Tamilians perform an occasion called Manjal Neerattu Vizha, to celebrate their daughter attaining adulthood. They invite their relatives and neighbors for the proceedings and formally announce it. The purpose of the ceremony is to provide awareness to the daughter about the changes that will proceed, and also to make them clear about Do s and Don’t s, they should follow. The girls will be made to wear the traditional dress saree, and they are showered with turmeric water, during the occasion.

You can read an article about it here and you can see a full and detailed account of this ceremony at Richard Clark’s Arunachala blog.

Here is a billboard announcing the ceremony. with a picture of the mother and the father and the girl in full traditional saree. Yes, it is a huge billboard!

Manjal Neerattu Vizha function   coming of age and ready to wear a saree    traditional sarees saree pics


Thaavani (Half Saree) tradition in South India

If you do not know, Thaavani is a half saree, just the front part of a saree that covers the chest and just a little that goes around the back, essentially no front pleats, compared to a full saree.

Normally it is worn by a young woman in their tweens and is an important rite of passage for many tamil girls.

Of course, not unexpectedly, the tradition of wearing a half-saree for girls is going away. But I am not concerned. It won’t be long before Thaavani is back in fashion again. As I have repeatedly said, saree is not something that you can insist that people wear, they have to discover it for their own self.

I cam across a delightful posting by Premlatha on her Kombai blog about her memories of wearing a Thaavani:

I insisted on wearing thaavani, you know, I insisted. It was not my parents, but I asked for it. It is my upbringing that is, I come from such a family of very good people, that the moment I felt the lumps (paatti told me that this is not a disease but normal lumps girls get at this age), I decided that I will wear thaavani.

Everyone in my class were surprised to see me in thaavani. They all commented that I am too small, not even attained major yet. That makes me feel very proud of myself. See, what a good girl I am.

Some of the writing is sarcastic, some of it is poignant but all of it is delightful and full of nostalgia. And I think Nostalgia is one of the most under-appreciated pleasures in life.

Ok, back to Half-Saree, this is not a perfect picture of a half saree, but at least it is illustrative of what is meant by half saree.

Thaavani (Half Saree) tradition in South India    saree resources

And here is a picture of a full “half-saree”

Thaavani (Half Saree) tradition in South India    saree resources

Thaavani (Half Saree) tradition in South India    saree resources