Indian and Scythian dress

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YV1041.SPB.EDU
Tue Oct 20 14:58:24 UTC 1998

ommenting on my words

>>         If the person which you see in your meditations were Scythian, then
>> it should wear a conical hat, leather trousers and some other very specific
>> dress items, which, as is well known, came to India only with the SAka invaders
>> in the 1st century BC.
    Samar Abbas on 21 Oct. 1998 wrote:

 >I always thought these were characteristic of all Aryan nations. Thus the
>Iranian Aryans wore such clothes, as did the Scythic Aryans (as you have
>pointed out). If the Indo-Aryans did not wear such clothes, then what did
>they wear ? If they did not wear these `Scythic clothes', then did they
>adopt the dress of the Dravidians ? These are just thougths that occurred
>to me, I do not mean to challenge any authorities on this list (I don't
>know much in this field).

        Though the information on the dress of the Vedic Indians is scanty
and far from clear, we can surmise it hardly was very different from the dress
of the Epic period, which consisted (for both sexes) of two pieces of cloth
("lower and upper garments" throughout the Mbh, but see especially the Tale
of Nala in Book III) of which one was wrapped around the hips and another
somehow covered the shoulders (cf. Vedic words adhIvAsa-, upastir-). The upper
cape could be sometimes made of skin or fur (Vedic carman-, kRtti-), but
the trousers, leather or cloth, were absolutely unknown. It is a historical
fact that the trousers as a dress item were invented by the Scyths - the
first really nomadic people who started to spent most of their lives on
horseback (the Vedic Aryans were not true nomads, their way of life was
rather "pastoralism cum agriculture"). Leather boots and belts with metal
buckles too may be traced to the cultures of the Scyths and their eastern
nomadic neighbours in the Great Steppe: Hunns, Tokharians, Early Turks. All
these items we can first see in India on the statues and coins of the zaka and
KuSANa rulers, but since the Gupta period or so some of them became common in
India (I mean the designs only, but not materials, because leather and fur
were very soon discarded in the Indian climatic conditions).
        The history of Indian and Iranian dress is not a special field of
my studies, so I may be wrong in some details. Thanks in advance for any
                                                Yaroslav Vassilkov

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