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Punjabi Tamba and Kurta

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Title: Punjabi Tamba and Kurta  
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Punjabi Tamba and Kurta

Bhangra Dance performers in Punjab wearing Kurta and Tehmat.

Punjabi Kurta and Tamba are traditional costume for men of Punjab.

Punjabi Tamba


Punjabi kurta and tehmat

The tamba, which is also called tehmat[1][2] is the Punjabi version of the lungi which has folds at the front and is the traditional dress for Punjabi men. The tamba is worn by Bhangra dancers. Although the use of the Punjabi tehmat in East Punjab has declined in recent years, being replaced by the pajamma, men can be seen wearing the tehmat and its use has not completely stopped.[3] The tamba or the lungi can also be seen on Punjabi men in West Punjab[4][5] and the Punjabi men of adjoining Hazara, Pakistan (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).[6] A tehmat is of one colour and has no border. The tehmat or laacha can be long reaching to the heels. It can also be short to just below the knees.[7]


A laacha differs from the tehmat in that it has a border and is variegated so that it has more than one colour.[8] The laacha is popular in West Punjab.[9] The laacha is worn in a like manner to the tehmat except it has more folds. Women in some parts of Punjab wear the tehmat and the laacha, especially the districts of Gujarat, Gujranwala, Shahpur and Muzzafargarh.[10]

Punjabi Kurta

The Punjabi kurta[11] is made of two rectangular pieces with side slits, and a front opening[12] below the neck. In the past, it was traditional for men to wear a gold or silver chain (zanjiri) woven around the buttons.[13]

This form of kurta gradually began to replace the older angarkha worn in the Punjab region which fell to the knees,[14] opened to either the left or the right,[15] and was sometimes known as the anga, the older form of the angarkha and is similar to a gown[16][17] or a loose coat and wadded with cotton.[18] By the 1960s the Punjabi kurta had almost replaced the angarkha but it was still popular in present-day Haryana.[19]

The Punjabi form of kurta is popular throughout the sub-continent. It is for this reason that, in Bengal and Bangladesh.[20] the kurta is known as 'Panjabi' as the kurta is associated with the Punjab[21] and considered an article of Punjabi dress.[22] The Punjabi kurta was introduced to Assam by King Garib Niwaj of Manipur during his reign sometime between 1709 A.D. and 1749 [23] A.D. where it is also known as Panjabi.[24] It is also worn in Uttar Pradesh[25] and since the 1960s has been replacing the traditional saluka (short shirt) worn in Madhya Pradesh.[26]


The term kurta is a generic term to cover different types of upper garments worn by men. Kurta refers to the upper garments worn in South Asia inspired from garments worn by Central Asian Turks who spread their use beyond their region, reaching the Indian sub-continent.[27]

The traditional male attire for men in India consisted of the dhoti and an unstitched[28] cloth draped around the shoulders extended to cover the upper body.[29][30][31]

However, men in North India especially Rajasthan and the Punjab region[32] wore the jama of the Rajput type, the chola (robe)[33] (which in the Punjab region remained popular in some parts as recent as the 1980s),[34] the Mughal jama and the angarkha as upper garments, which eventually led to different versions of the kurta being developed, such as the Punjabi angarkha, Punjabi kurta, the Gujarati angarkha and the Rajasthani angarkha, also termed ‘kurta’.[35] A non region specific angarkha is also worn in various areas such as in Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

The Punjabi kurta also draws inspiration from the Mughal kurta,[36][37] which was in common use in the region.[38] However, The Mughal kurta was much loose than the Punjabi kurta,had no side slits and the upper part of the Mughal kurta was also very loose.

The other inspiration for the Punjabi kurta is the Punjabi angarkha which was called the old kurta in the early 20th century A.D.[39] and is a loose tunic[40] which falls to below the knees.[41]

The use of side slits in the Punjabi kurta can be traced back to the 11th century C.E., when AL Biruni noted[42] women in north India wore the kurtaka which was a short shirt, with sleeves extending to the shoulders, to the middle of the body, and had slashes on the left and the right sides.[43] This is the same as the modern Punjabi kurta worn by women[44] and men which has side slits. The use of shirts and trousers was earlier observed in the Punjab region in the 7th century by Hsuan Tsang and I-Tsing.[45]

In modern usage, a short kurta is referred to as the kurti. However, traditionally, the kurti is a short cotton coat[46][47] (without side slits) and is believed to have descended from the tunic of the Shunga period (2nd century B.C.).[48] The kurti is front opening and is buttoned. Traditionally, a chain of gold or silver called zanjiri is woven into the buttons.[49] The use of the kurti by women has been noted during the 1600s[50][51] to the present day. The kurti can be front opening from below the neck to the waist, or cover the back but leave the stomach exposed. Some styles fasten at the back or are worn as pullovers with no side slits and font opening.

The kurti also forms part of male dress as a waist coat worn over the kurta.[52]

Before the use of the kurta, people in Jammu traditionally wore the peshwaj[53] which flowed to the ankles. However, the traditional attire now is the kurta and Dogri pajjamma. The use of the kurta was very rare in Kashmir until Kashyap Bandhu encouraged its use in the 1930s cultural revolution.[54]

Muktsari Kurta Pajamma

The Muktsari kurta pajamma is the modern Punjabi version of the traditional kurta pajamma outfit which is very popular on the sub-continent.[55]

Muktsari kurta pajammas were initially worn by youngsters in the Muktsar area. However, they are now popular all over Punjab. The Muktsari kurtas are snug with lapels on either side and the pyjamas are similar to well-fitted slim pants.[56] The kurta length is short and there's no pleating anywhere.[57]

See also


  1. ^ Development: A Saga of Two Worlds: Vismambhor Nath 2002 (Ashok Mukar Mittal Publishers)
  2. ^ Lahore: A Sentimental Journey Pran Neville Penguin Books
  3. ^ Harkesh Singh Kehal (2009) Alop Ho Reha Punjabi Virsa.Lokgeet Parkashan. ISBN 81-7142-869-X
  4. ^ Malik, Iftikhar Haider (2006) Culture and Customs of Pakistan
  5. ^ West Pakistan. Public Relations Department(1961) West Pakistan Year Book [1]
  6. ^ Aziz, Khursheed Kamal (1993) The murder of history: a critique of history textbooks used in Pakistan [2]
  7. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers - Ferozepur Year Published 1915
  8. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers - Gujranwala District Year Published 1935
  9. ^ Malik, Iftikhar Haider (2006) Culture and Customs of Pakistan
  10. ^ Saini, B.S. (1975) The Social & Economic History of the Punjab, 1901-1939, Including Haryana & Himachal Pradesh [3]
  11. ^ Panjab University Research Bulletin: Arts, Volume 13, Issue 1 - Volume 14, Issue 1 (1982)[4]
  12. ^ Population Census of Pakistan, 1961: Dacca. 2.Chittagong. 3.Sylhet. 4.Rajshahi. 5.Khulna. 6.Rangpur. 7.Mymensingh. 8.Comilla. 9.Bakerganj. 10.Noakhali. 11.Bogra. 12.Dinajpur. 13.Jessore. 14.Pabna. 15.Kushtia. 16.Faridpur. 17.Chittagong Hill tracts [5]
  13. ^ Kehal, Harkesh Singh (2011) Alop ho riha Punjabi virsa bhag dooja. Lokgeet Parkashan. ISBN 978-93-5017-532-3
  14. ^ Smith, Ronald Vivian (2008) Capital Vignettes: A Peep Into Delhi's Ethos [6]
  15. ^ Haryana Gazeteer 1892
  16. ^ Rajaram Narayan Saletore (1974) Sex Life Under Indian Rulers
  17. ^ Panjab University Research Bulletin: Arts, Volume 13, Issue 1 - Volume 14, Issue 1 (1982) [7]
  18. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers - District Attock Year Published 1930 BK-000211-0160 [8]
  19. ^ Mohinder Singh Randhawa.(1960) Punjab: Itihas, Kala, Sahit, te Sabiachar aad.Bhasha Vibhag, Punjab, Patiala.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Fraser, Bashabi (2008) Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter
  22. ^ Arabinda Biswas, India. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Publications Division (1985) Indian Costumes [9]
  23. ^ Sen, Sirpa ( 1992) Tribes and Castes of Manipur: Description and Select Bibliography [10]
  24. ^ Narendra S. Bisht, T. S. Bankoti (2004) Encyclopaedic Ethnography of the Himalayan Tribes: A-D [11]
  25. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh (2005) People of India: Uttar Pradesh (3 pts.)
  26. ^ Madhya Pradesh District Gazetteers: Raisen (1965)
  27. ^ Rahman, Abdur (2002) India's Interaction with China, Central and West Asia [12]
  28. ^ Tarlo, Emma (1996) Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India
  29. ^ Vaidya,Chintaman Vinayak (2001) Epic India, Or, India as Described in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana [13]
  30. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers: Ibbetson series, 1883-1884 (pub 1883)
  31. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers - District Attock Year Published 1930 BK-000211-0160
  32. ^ Cohn, Bernard S. (1996) Colonialism and Its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India [14]
  33. ^ Proceedings - Punjab History Conference (2006)
  34. ^ Survey Report on Village: Chandigarh. Kaimbwala (1988)
  35. ^ S. And Sahgal, Malik Gettingahead In Social Studies:, Book 3
  36. ^ Impact Of Hindu Culture On Muslims Mohsen Saeidi Madani
  37. ^ Mohsen Saeidi Madani (1993) Impact Of Hindu Culture On Muslims
  38. ^ Thesis by Renu Bala
  39. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers, Volume 4, Part 1 Gurgaon 1911
  40. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers: Ibbetson series, 1883-1884]. [15]
  41. ^ Punjab gazetteers, 1883, bound in 10 vols., without title-leaves (1883) [16]
  42. ^ Ghurye, Govind Sadashiv (1966) Indian Costume
  43. ^ Yadava,Ganga Prasad (1982) Dhanapāla and His Times: A Socio-cultural Study Based Upon His Works [17]
  44. ^ Sharma, Brij Narain (1966) Social life in Northern India, A.D. 600-1000 [18]
  45. ^ Abraham Eraly (2011) The First Spring: The Golden Age of India
  46. ^ Punjab District Gazetteers: Rawalpindi District (v. 28A) (1909)
  47. ^ Compiled and published under the authority of the Punjab government, (1939) Punjab District and State Gazetteers: Part A
  48. ^ Panjab University Research Bulletin: Arts, Volume 13, Issue 1 - Volume 14, Issue (1982) [19]
  49. ^ Kehal, Harkesh Singh (2011) Alop ho riha Punjabi virsa bhag dooja. Lokgeet Parkashan. ISBN 978-93-5017-532-3
  50. ^ Dr Daljit Singh (2004) Punjab Socio-Economic Condition (1501-1700 A.D.)
  51. ^ Sanjeev Prasad Srivastava, R. P. Srivastava (2001) Studies in Panjab Sculpture [20]
  52. ^ Sir George Casson Walker (2006) Gazetteer of the Lahore District, 1893-94 [21]
  53. ^ Textiles, Costumes and Ornaments of the Western Himalyas O Handa
  54. ^ Cultural Heritage of India- Kashmiri Pandit Contribution. The Publication of Kashmir Sabha, Calcutta (1999-2000) [22]
  55. ^ [23] Puneet Pal Singh Gill Article The Tribune 04 01 2012
  56. ^ [24] Puneet Pal Singh Gill Article The Tribune 04 01 2012
  57. ^ [25] Puneet Pal Singh Gill Article The Tribune 04 01 2012
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