Angavasthram Part Two

My angavasthram textiles are priceless and national treasures. Bob remembered the man at the weaving shop told us. At any rate, I, too, treasure them and am hoping to find out more about them.

I thought the inside was so beautiful and interesting that it needed a second post. I think the inside might be that famous Indian muslin that’s thin enough so the cloth would go through a wedding ring. At any rate, it is beautiful. One of the wider ones was 2 ¼” when folded and opened out to a full 45”! I assume servants did the ironing.

This pattern was woven in near the ends on several but not all of them.

Here is how I saw them. I had no idea what was inside or at the ends.

Three of them were 2-sided—black on one side and red on the other. The others are white with gold patterning. Some were wide and some narrower when folded. I think if I ever show them, I’ll let them hang as they are folded in a group with one opened?? Now, I hate to get them mussed up.

6 thoughts on “Angavasthram Part Two”

  1. These are amazing, now I need to go back to the previous post and take another look at the photos. I thought they were decorative tapes.

  2. Some years ago the Textile Museum in D.C. had a traditional large white turban. The amount of material and the folding to shape the turban were incredible. This was no just-wrap-it-around-your-head scarf; it was sculpture. The material was white and very fine, looked like your sample. I’d doubt it was ever undone, once made. Thinking about ironing — what would the pre-modern techniques have been?

    • I saw a woman ironing in a shanty on the sidewalk in Chennai. I’ll try to post the photos I took. Hot coals were in the heavy iron she was using.

  3. I looked them up on the web. I didn’t see any like the ones you have.

    a segment:
    One can maintain a silk angavastram by dry cleaning it and avoiding hand washing or machine washing at any cost. A cotton angavastram can be maintained easily by hand washing it in starched water (which is how it is traditionally done). However, modern day users, also wash it in the machine and keep it well ironed and folded in perfect rectangular proportions at all times.
    Interesting Facts

    Some devotees wear the angavastram tied around the waist as a sign of respect.
    Women are not allowed to wear angavastrams.
    The angavastram was strictly a silk garment however, as very few people could afford this fabric, cotton was allowed.

  4. This from a Brahmin Tamil friend in the US: Angavasthram is a normal part of a Brahmin’s ritual attire in South India, used by both Iyengars and Iyers. (I may even have one in a box somewhere, from the last time I wore one, at my father’s funeral in 1993.) It’s usually worn on ritual occasions such as marriages, upanayanams (sacred thread ceremonies), funerals, engagements, and so on. You can get new ones in many shops in Chennai where they sell silk saris and such. Nallis (short for Nalli Chinnasamy Chetty) is a famous shop in T. Nagar where my grandparents used to shop and which predates Independence in 1947. In South India, the angavasthram is always worn with a ceremonial yellow dhoti (which is made of superior cotton and has an embroidered bottom whose design matches the angavasthram). In North India, the angavasthram is worn with a kurta.

    • Thanks for this personal information. Can you find out any information about the narrow ones like mine? What time in history were they worn, and in only in the Tamil part of India?? etc.


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