What Anarkali individually wore might hardly be known; however, Akbar’s contemporary textual and visual records, especially his court historian Abu-Fazl’s Ain-n-Akbari and miniature paintings rendered at his court studio, present elaborate accounts of the styles of various wears, even measurements and sometimes prices of woven lengths used in crafting them. Some pictorial records show that the type of ensemble associated with Anarkali and promoted at Akbar’s court was a form of costume prevalent even earlier especially at Sultanate court at Mandu. When in 1562 Akbar conquered Mandu, the seat of Sultanate ruled by the legendary romantic couple Baj Bahadur and Roopmati, the theme of dozens of popular folk of Central India, along the war booty presented to Akbar there were a few dancing girls. In Akbar’s contemporary miniatures these girls are represented as wearing identical costumes. The love legend of prince Salim and Anarkali was filmed in one of the great Hindi movies Mughal-e-Azam that after great research crafted costume-styles of various characters, that of Anarkali being one of the most important ones. This suit takes its form from Anarkali’s wear in that classical movie. Thus, the ethnicity and courtly grandeur that this suit breathes truly has reflection of Anarkali, and hence, her name.
Crafted from fine georgette dyed in deep purple or bright reddish maroon, as usual this suit consists of three components – kurta, salwar and dupatta. Of the three kurta is obviously the main component, the other two subordinated to it conceived either for enhancing its beauty or accomplishing a minimum necessary role as a wear. Unlike the large size dupatta in a Punjabi style suit that laid over both shoulders and breasts conceals the kurta’s blouse-part, its most ornate and fascinating component, the dupatta in this suit is a length of cloth with narrower breadth, lesser length and minimum ornamentation. Designed to wear on one shoulder, usually right, it covers a little of the kurta’s ornate part. Adorned in minimum it does not drag eye away from the main component. Apart, to a horizontally thrusting blouse-part it adds vertical dimension and affords a ruler-like framing element. Alike, the pajama, a costume-component with an essential role, tight-fitted to legs’ visible part, does not divert eye except to its bottom part which, as richly and identically adorned as the blouse-part of kurta – the main component, unites all three units into a single whole.
The kurta consists mainly of two parts, a well flared skirt with a wide periphery and a hem-line edged and strengthened with zari band and a blouse-part with short sleeves and tie-colds for holding it on the neck. Both parts have been designed from different lengths of georgette and both elaborately woven with zari but while the length used for crafting blouse part has been designed with Paisleys and bels, the skirt-part has been conceived with peacock-feather like looking motifs and linear forms connecting them mutually. The space on the skirt part has been managed using just the repeats of a flower-motif with six petals, three white and three atoll blue, rendered in six horizontal courses and a bunch of three sequins, a form suggestive of a flower atop and two leaves below, in the space in between. The blouse-part has been completely covered with forms of flowers, bels and others, not exactly decipherable, using mainly the coloured glass-pieces : red, white and atoll blue, cut leaves like, and zari threads. The sleeve-ends and the neck-opening on the back have been identically adorned using the same material and style of design-motifs.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.
The suit will fit UPTO the following sizes:
Sleeve Length 6.0"