Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1858 Rajput thakur
Subjectthakur lord, prince
Culture: Rajput
Setting: British Raj, north India mid-19th-early 20thc
Evolution1576 Rajput warrior > 1751 Rajput zamindar > 1858 Rajput thakur

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Johnson 1996 p88
"[U]nder Mughal domination, elite Rajputs, taking advantage of the opportunities afforded them within the empire, tended to close ranks in order to consolidate their new-found positions.  In the process, the more successful lineages increasingly used the language of descent and kinship to legitimize their social status.  The British, in the late 19th century, consolidated this tendency by categorizing the Rajputs as a 'martial race (or caste)', thereby linking their notional identity as warriors to biological inheritance."

* Busquet/Morandi 2003 p191
"THAKUR: A Rajput nobleman, vassal of a rajah or maharajah."

* Lewis 1991 p235
"Thakur, thakoor [18C. H. thākur; S. thākkura, 'a deity'.]  A term of respect, Lord, master, etc. espec. applied to Rajput nobles; to men of the Bhils and other wild races; to Bengali Brahmins or men of 'good family'; and as an ironic honorific to barbers."  [references omitted]

* Allen/Dwivedi 1984 p86-87
"Ultimately, it was the change in lifestyle which more than anything else 'cut the umbilical cord between us and the people' and seriously weakened the close Raja-Praja relationship at the heart of the ancient Hindu concept of kingship: 'In Hindu society there was always great stress laid on humility and simplicity -- but that slowly changed and from the very simply way they all lived, it became very ostentatious living with one prince competing with another, which wasn't there among the old rulers.'  This alteration in lifestyle varied in its timing from state to state but was nearly always characaterised by the same event: 'If one were to ask when exactly this took place in a particular state I would say that the physical evidence of it is the year in which the ruled moved his residence from the centre of the city to somewhere more salubrious and more sanitary,' declares the Maharaja of Dhrangadhara.  'That's when the rulers ceased to be kings.  They still had the trappings of kingship, all the ceremonies, the coronation rituals and royal anointings from ancient times, but those were shadows that remained rather than the substance of kingship.'"

* Bonahan ed. 1967 p151 (Bernard S Cohn, "Some notes on law and change in north India" p139-159)
"Disputes among Thakurs of the village were frequent, bitter, and often violent, both in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Older informants recounted incidents when Thakurs along with their dependents would fight other Thakurs, often involving bloodshed.  These fights would often be over questions of land, but more frequently would arise over insults.  Some Thakur families appear to have had traditional feuding relations, sometimes stretching over four or five generations.  There were always several Thakur families in the village who were recognized as more powerful and important than others, and when a dispute arose, the disputants wouold try to enlist the aid of these powerful families."  [references omitted]


* Johnson 1996 p168
"In the later period of British rule (19th to early 20th centuries) western styles began to influence men's dress.  Local rulers, emulating the British, incorporated features of military costume in their dress and adopted tight, front-buttoning coats, riding breeches and western-styles shoes but reverted to 'traditional' courtly dress for ceremonial.  By the mid 20th century the collared, rather than the round-necked (kurta) or side-fastening  short coat (angarkhi), was increasingly worn by urban men with the wrapped lower garment (dhoti or lungi)."

* Pathak 2006 p75-76
"Rajasthani men usually wear a three-piece attire: bandia-angarkhadhoti and sapha.  The bandia-angarkha is a closely fitted short coat, fastened with tie-cords either on the chest or to the left.  Its sleeves are long and narrow.  The dhoti or loincloth covers the lower part of the body, reaching much below the knees.  Male members of the royal family and important officials prefer to wear the churidar paijama instead of the dhoti, and a long angarkha or achkan instead of the bandia-angarkha.​  
    "Rajasthani pagas or saphas are very colourful, and the wearing styles differ according to the status, occasions and practices of different communities." 

* Pathak 2006 p60
"Under European influence, the sherwani and the achkan were used as upper garments by men.  These tight-fitting costumes of varying length and a front opening with buttons, Chinese collars, drooping shoulders, full sleeves with cuffs, and two side pockets.  The paijama, loose- (popularly known as aligari) or tight-fitting (churidar), were commonly used by men and women." 


* Rawson 1968 p27
"one aspect of the history of the Islamic Talwar remains to be commented on.  This is the extraordinary completeness with which it was adopted by the ruling classes in the whole of India, amongst whom, if it did not entirely replace the native forms of sword, it nevertheless took precedence over them.  To a Rajput prince of the nineteenth century, and to lesser rulers who aspired to Rajput standing the Talwar was an integral part of his royal regalia.  This phenomenon can probably be traced to the custom of the Mughal emperors of using fine swords as instruments of policy, as the Byzantine rulers had used silk robes, giving them as rewards for faithful service, in token of alliance, or as recognition of delegated authority.  Over the later Rajput courts the legendary glory of the great days of the Mughal empire has exercised a profound fascination, and modern Indian notions of royalty still stem from that almost divine source."

* Lewis 1991 p231
"Talwar, tulwar, tulwaur [18C. H. talwār (also, tarwar), fr. S. tarwari, 'a sabre', 'a sword'.]  A Rajput bridegroom sometimes sends his tulwar as his proxy at his wedding." 

* Wilkinson 1978 p140
"Swords [from India] are usually known as talwars although there are many variant forms.  The commonest type of talwar had a single-edged blade which usually curved slightly backwards.  The hilt was very simple in style with a large plate-like pommel, a slightly swelling metal grip, two very stubby quillons and on many a knuckle bow which curved up from the lower quillon to touch the disc pommel.  Often the hilts were decorated with gold or silver and on many the pommel was chiselled as well.  Most talwars had two short langets projecting down from the quillons and these gripped the neck of the wooden, leather or velvet-covered scabbard.  It is of interest to note that these Indian weapons had grips which are normally a little too small for the hand of the European soldier.  [CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS: Is there really a significant difference in these hand sizes?  Who actually took these measurements?]
​    "Skill with the talwar or any other form of sword was greatly valued by the Indian warrior and their use was taught at akharas which were the equivalent of the European schools of fencing.  These schools continued to teach until well into this century when they were still quite common.  The shape of the hilt was, according to one writer, ideal for allowing a firm grip whilst still allowing manoeuvering, when even a small movement of the wrist could give a good slash.  It was said that an expert Indian swordsman could stand with one knee against a tree and swing the sword backwards and forwards between him and the trunk without once touching it.  The talwars were very sharp and contemporary accounts of the many Indian battles tell many harrowing stories of their terrible effects."


* Stone 1934 p270
"GUPTI.  An Indian sword cane.  It is quite similar to those carried in Europe but the blades are often shorter and broader.  It was fairly common in nothern and central India.  The blades were sometimes European; they often screwed into the scabbard which made them almost useless as weapons, as it took too long to get them out.  The scabbards were sometimes of iron."  [reference omitted]