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Anthropology

Peshwaj of Chamba's Rani Sahiba Baji

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Peshwaj of Chamba's Rani Sahiba Baji
20th Century

Place of Origin: Himachal Pradesh
Materials: Cotton, worked with gota (golden lace)
Dimensions: Circumference 2200 Lt. 125 cm. (approx.)
Acc. No. 64.1834

This is a 20th century exquisite garment fabricated for the wedding of Rani Sahiba Baji of Chamba, a Himalayan hill state. It has been rendered in a pink cotton fabric which has a slight sheen on its surface and is profusely worked on with golden lace around the neck, bodice, front opening, hem and sleeves. The use of blue silken fabric combined with the golden lace on the belt and the borders add exoticism to the attire. 'Gota' and applique work are the main characteristics of the dress.

The earliest reference of this garment is found in Abu'l Fazl's Ain-i Akbari and is often seen in the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century miniature paintings. Usually a garment made of diaphanous cotton, a Peshwaz consisted of two parts, a tight-fitted full-sleeved bodice with length reaching the waist and a well-flared skirt descending down the ankles or lower than that. There are often fasteners on the front. Scholars trace the etymology of the word 'Peshwaz' in 'pesas', a term occurring in Vedic literature denoting embroidered garments. Peshwaz or a garment of the type is still an occasional wear of the ladies in Chamba and other Himalayan regions.

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