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
attried 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 materials and techniques used in the royal costumes
of Bikaner, as much as in other princely states of Rajasthan, 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
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 creepers. Often
beads, pearls, 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
All costumes on display are from around mid-20th century.