Aristocratic Textiles and Costume Gallery
Traditionally, women`s dresses in Bikaner, as almost all over Rajasthan, comprised ghaghra, a flaring skirt; kurti, a sleeveless blouse; kanchli, a short bodice worn over the blouse and odhana, a veil-cloth. From hutments to palaces, women were attired in this set of garments except that the materials and embellishments used, in the aristocratic parlance, were precious, refined and elaborate. Due to the custom of clan exogamy, Rajput women were given in marriage to distant princely states. As such several cultural and stylistic elements mixed and mingled in the costumes of each ruling family.
The most popular material and techniques used in the royal costumes of Bikaner, as much as in other princely states of Rajastha, comprised gold and silver brocaded silks and zardozi, embroidery in gold wire. Often panels of a skirt, or yoke pieces of blouses were specially woven for the purpose.
Zardozi embroidery(of which several examples are on display here)was worked on satin with usually a heavy cotton lining to give support to the gold work. Certain portions of the work were cushioned or padded to raise the embroidery. Gold braiding or laying of specially formed gold wires in the required manner was also quite popular.
One peculiar technique of embellishing women`s garments in Rajasthan is gota work. Ribbons of various widths woven with gold or silver threads were attached to garments as borders, or constructed into decorative elements such as flowers or creepers Ofted beads, pears, beetle wings or semi-precious or precious stones were strung to the dresses.
Photographs of female members of the royal family of Bikaner displayed here show some of the traditional costumes of the state in actual use.
All costumes on display are from around mid-20th century.
The velvet patch-work jajam is embroidered with gold-gilt silver thread over padded floral forms in zardauzi idiom. One of the most formidable pieces of its kind, the jajam is a unique example of Bikaner gold embroidery.