Class 9 Social Science Clothing A Social History Exam Notes

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Sumptuary Law And Social Hierarchy 

(i) From about 1294 to the time of the French Revolution in 1789, the people of France were expected to strictly follow 'sumptuary laws' which tried to control the behaviour of those considered social inferiors, preventing them from wearing certain clothes, consuming certain foods and beverages and hunting game in certain areas. According to the 'sumptuary laws', only royalty could wear expensive materials like ermine and fur, or silk, velvet and brocade. Other classes were debarred from clothing themselves with materials that were associated with the aristocracy.

(ii) The French Revolution ended these distinctions. From now on, both men and women began wearing clothing that was loose and comfortable. The colours of France - blue, white and red °became popular as they were sign of the patriotic citizen. Other political symbols too became a part of dress: the red cap of liberty, long trousers and the revolutionary cockade pinned on to a hat. The simplicity of clothing was meant to express the idea of equality.

Clothing And Notion Of Beauty

(i) The end of sumptuary laws did not mean that everyone in European societies could now dress in the same way, differences between the social strata remained. The poor could not dress like the rich, nor eat the same food. But laws no longer barred people's right to dress in the way they wished. Differences in earning, rather than sumptuary laws, now defined what the rich and poor could wear. The notion of what was beautiful or ugly, proper or improper, decent or vulgar differed.

(ii) Styles of clothing emphasised differences between men and women. Women in Victorian England were groomed from childhood to be docile and dutiful, submissive and obedient. The ideal women was one who could bear pain and suffering. While men were expected to be serious, strong, independent and aggressive, women were seen as frivolous, delicate, passive and docile. Norms of clothing reflected these ideals. From childhood, girls were tightly laced up and dressed in stays. The effort was to restrict the growth of their bodies, contain them within small moulds. When slightly older, girls had to wear tight fitting corsets. Tightly laced, small-waisted women were admired as attractive, elegant and graceful. Clothing thus played a part in creating the image of frail, submissive Victorian women.

A How Did Women React to These Norms?

(i) Many women believed in the ideals of womanhood. The ideals were in the air they breathed, the literature they read, the education they had received at school and at home.

(ii) But not everyone accepted these values. By the 1830s, women in England began agitating for democratic rights. As the suffrage movement developed, many began campaigning for dress reform. Women's magazines described how tight dresses and corsets caused deformities and illness among young girls. Doctors reported that many women were regularly complaining of acute weakness, felt languid, and fainted frequently. Corsets then became necessary to hold up the weakened spine.
(iii) In America, a similar movement developed amongst the white settlers on the east coast. Traditional feminine clothes were criticised on a variety of grounds. Reform of the dress, it was said, would change the position of women. If clothes were comfortable and convenient, then women could work, earn their living and become independent. In the 18705, the National Woman Suffrage Association headed by Mrs. Stanton, and the American Woman Suffrage Association dominated by Lucy Stone both campaigned for dress reform. The argument was: simplify dress, shorten skirts, and abandon corsets. On both sides of the Atlantic, there was now a movement for rational dress reform.
(iv) The reformers did not immediately succeed in changing social-values. They had to face ridicule and hostility. Conservatives everywhere opposed change. Faced with persistent attacks, many women reformers changed back into traditional clothes to confirm to conventions.
(v) By the end of the nineteenth century, however, change was clearly in the air. "Ideals of beauty and styles of clothing were both transformed under a variety of pressures. People began accepting the ideas of reformers they had earlier ridiculed. With new times came new values .
Many changes were made possible in Britain due to the introduction of new materials and technologies. Other changes came about because of the two world wars and the new working conditions for women.
(i) after 1600, trade with India brought cheap, beautiful and easy-to-maintain Indian chintzes within the reach of many Europeans who could now increase the size of their wardrobes.
(ii) During the Industrial Revolution, in the nineteenth century, Britain began the mass manufacture of cotton textiles which became more accessible to a wider section of people in Europe. By the early twentieth century, artificial fibers made clothes cheaper still and easier to wash and maintain.
(iii) In the late 1870s, heavy restrictive underclothes, which had created such a storm in the pages of women's magazines, were gradually discarded. Clothes got lighter, shorter and simpler.
(iv) Yet until 1914, clothes were ankle length, as they had been since the thirteenth century. By 1915, however, the hemline of the skirt rose dramatically to mid-calf.
B. The Wars: Changes in women's clothing came about as a result of the two World Wars.
(i) Many European women stopped wearing jewellery and luxurious clothes. As upper-class women mixed with other classes, social barriers were eroded and women began to look similar.
(ii) Number of women workers multiplied fast. At job, they wore a working uniform. Shorter skirts and trousers became common dresses for women.
(iii) Bright colours faded; only sober colours were worn. Skirts became shorter. Soon trousers became a vital part of Western women's clothing, women took to cutting .. their hair short for convenience.
(iv) By the twentieth century, a plain and austere style came to reflect seriousness and professionalism. New schools for children emphasized the importance of plain clothing. As women took to sports, they had to wear clothes that did not hamper movement. When they went out to work they needed clothes that were comfortable and convenient.
During the colonial period there were significant changes in male and female clothing in India. This was a consequence of the influence of Western dress forms and missionary activity and due to the effort by Indians to fashion clothing styles that embodied and indigenous tradition symbols of ;the national movement. When western-style clothing came into India in the nineteenth century, Indians reacted in three different ways:
(i) There was a section of society to women Western clothes were a sign, of modernity and process. They adopted these dresses, There was another section of society, who found western style clothing as symbolic of liberation, Among these the important ones were the dalits who had converted to
(ii) Another group of people were convinced that western culture would lead to a loss of traditional cultural identity, These people kept away from western clothes,
(iii) Another group of people began to wear western clothes without giving up their Indians ones, They would wear western style clothes when out on work, and would to back to more comfortable Indian clothes when relaxing at home,
A. Caste Conflict and Dress Change:
(i) India had its own strict social codes of food and dress, The caste system clearly defined what subordinate and dominant cast Hindus should wear, eat, etc., and these codes had the force of law, Changes in clothing styles that threatened these norms therefore often created violent social reactions,
(ii) The Shanars (also called Nadars) were a community of toddy tappers who migrated to southern Travancore to work under Nair landlords, As they were considered a 'subordinate caste', they were prohibited from using umbrellas and wearing shoes or golden ornaments, Men and women were also expected to follow the local custom of never covering their upper bodies before the upper castes,
(iii) Under the influence of Christian missions, Shanar women converts began in the 1820s to wear tailored blouses and cloths to cover themselves like the upper castes, Soon Nairs attacked these women. Complaints were also filed in court against this dress change.
(iv) At first. the Government of Travancore issued a proclamation in 1829 ordering Shanar women 'to abstain in future from covering the upper parts of the body'. But this did not prevent Shanar Christian women, and even Shanar Hindus from adopting the blouse and upper cloth.
(v) The abolition of slavery in Travancore in 1855 led to even more frustration among the upper castes who felt they were losing control. In October 1859, riots broke out as Shanar women were attacked in the market place and stripped of their upper cloths, Houses were looted and chapels burned, Finally, the government issued another proclamation permitting Shanar women, whether Christian and Hindu, to wear a jacket, or cover their upper bodies 'in any manner whatever, but not like the women of high caste'.
B. British Rule and Dress Codes:

In different cultures, specific items of clothing often convey contrary meanings. This frequently leads to misunderstanding and conflict. Styles of clothing in British India changed through such conflicts.
(i) When European traders first began frequenting India, they were distinguished from the Indian 'turban wearers' as the 'hat wearers'. These two headgears not only looked different, they also signified different things. The turban in India was not just for protection from the heat but was a sign of respectability, and could not be removed at will. In the Western tradition, the hat had to be removed before social superiors as a sign of respect. This cultural difference created misunderstanding. The British were often offended if Indians did not take off their turban when they met colonial officials. Many Indians on the other hand wore the turban to consciously assert their regional or national identity.
(ii) Another such conflict related to the wearing of shoes. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was customary for British officials to follow Indian etiquette and remove their footwear in the courts of ruling kings or chiefs. In 1824-1828, Governor-General Amherst insisted that Indians take their shoes off as a sign of respect when they appeared before him, but this was not strictly followed. By the mid-nineteenth century, when Lord Dalhousie was Governor General, 'shoe respect' was made stricter, and Indians were made to take off their shoes when entering any government institution; only those who wore European clothes were exempted from this rule. Many Indian government servants were increasingly getting uncomfortable with these rules.
→"Women in nineteenth century India were obliged to continue wearing traditional Indian dress even when men switched over to the more convenient Western clothing."
It is doubtful if men changed over to western dresses out of reasons of convenience. They changed over to western dresses for different reasons. And these reasons were not applicable to women.
(i) Men had to go out to work and interact with their western bosses and native subordinates These men would wear western clothes to please their western bosses and carry favour with them; and to show off their borrowed authority to their subordinates. The women had not to go out for work. There was no need for them to change to new dress .
(ii) Social interactions of women were limited to closed family gatherings. They were more comfortable in their own traditional dresses.
(iii) Western dresses were not easily available and these were costly. Indian women were stay-at-home type and were conservative and little responsive to change.
(i) As nationalist feelings swept across India by the late nineteenth century, Indians began devising cultural symbols that would express the unity of the nation.
(ii) The Tagore family of Bengal experimented, beginning in the 1870s, with designs for a national dress for both man and women in India. Rabindranath Tagore suggested that instead of combining Indian and European dress, India's national dress should combine elements of Hindu and Muslim dress. Thus the chapkan (a long buttoned coat) was considered the most suitable dress for men.
(iii) In the late 1870s, Janandanandini Devi, wife of Satyendranath Tagore, the first Indian member of the ICS, returned from Bombay to Calcutta. She adopted the Parsi style of wearing the sari pinned to the left shoulder with a brooch, and worn with a blouse an shoes. This was quickly adopted by Brahmo Samaji women and came to be known as the Brahmika sari. This style gained acceptance before long among Maharashtrian and Uttar Pradesh Brahmos, as well as non-Brahmos.
(iv) Women of Gujarat, Kodagu, Kerala and Assam continue to wear different types of sari.
A. The Swadeshi Movement:
(i) India accounted for one-fourth of the world's manufactured goods in the seventeenth century. There were a million weavers in Bengal alone in the middle of the eighteenth century.
(ii) The Industrial Revolution in Britain, which mechanised spinning and weaving and greatly increased the demand for raw materials such as cotton and indigo, changed India's status in the world economy.
(iii) Political control of India helped the British in two ways : Indian peasants could be forced to grow crops such as indigo, and cheap British manufacture easily replaced coarser Indian one. Large numbers of Indian weavers and spinners were left without work, and important textile weaving centers such as Murshidabad, Machilipatnam and Surat declined as demand fell.
(iv) In the middle of the 20th century, large numbers of people began boycotting British or mill-made cloth and adopting Khadi, even though it was coarser, more expensive and difficult to obtain.
(v) The Swadeshi movement developed in reaction to this measure. People were urged to boycott British goods of all kinds and start their own industries for the manufacture of goods such as matchboxes and cigarettes. Mass protests followed, with people vowing to cleanse themselves of colonial rule. The use of khadi was made a patriotic duty.
(vi) The change of dress appealed largely to the upper castes and classes rather than to those who had to make do with less and could not afford the new products.
(vii)Though many people rallied to the cause of nationalism at this time, it was almost impossible to compete with cheap British goods that had flooded the market.
(viii)The experiment with Swadeshi gave Mahatma Gandhi important ideas about using cloth as a symbolic weapon against British rule.
B. Mahatma Gandhi's Experiments with clothing : Mahatma Gandhi made spinning on the charkha and the daily use of khadi, or coarse cloth made from homespun yarn, very powerful symbols. These were not only symbols of self-reliance but also of resistance to the use of British mill-made cloth.
(i) As a young boy, Mahatma Gandhi wore a shirt with a dhoti or pajama and sometimes a coat. When he went to study law in London he dressed in western suits so he would not be laughed at.
(ii) Deciding that dressing 'unsuitably' was a popular political statement; Gandhi appeared in Durban in 1913 clad in a lungi and Kurta. He also shaved his head as a sign of mourning to protest against the shooting of Indian coal miners.
(iii) In 1915, he decided to dress like a Kathiawadi peasant. In 1921, he decided to adopt the short dhoti, a form of dress he wore till his death.
(iv) He consciously rejected the well-known clothes of the Indian ascetic and adopted the dress of the poorest Indian.
(v) Khadi to him was a sign of purity, simplicity and poverty. Wearing it became a symbol of nationalism and a rejection of western mill-made cloth.
(vi) He wore the short dhoti without a shirt when he went to England for the Round Table Conference in 1931. He refused to compromise and wore it even before King George V at Buckingham Palace.
C. Not All Could Wear Khadi Mahatma Gandhi's dream was to clothe the whole nation in Khadi. Though he succeeded using khadi as a source to inspire the Indian people but there were many with different opinions.
(i) The British machine made clothes were much cheaper as compared to khadi. Poverty rate was very high in India, so most of the poor started adopting foreign clothes.
(ii) The wealthy Parsi's of western India were among the first to adapt Western-style clothing because western clothes were a sign of modernity and progress.
(iii) Though Moti Lal Nehru gave up his expensive Western-style suits and adopted the Indian dhoti and kurta, but these were not made up of coarse material as suggested by Gandhiji.
(iv) As the caste system in India was very rigid and western dress style was for all. So many people adopted it for self-respect and equality.
1. Cockade : Cap usually worn on one side.
2. Ermine : Type of fur
3. Corset : A stiff inner bodice worn by women to give shape and support to the figure.
4. Suffrage : The right to vote.
5. Busk : A strip of material either of wood, whalebone or steel in front of the corset to stiffen and support it.
6. Pabulum : Anything that is essential to maintain life and growth.
7. Chintz : Cotton cloth printed with designs and flowers.
8. Peta : The Mysore turban which was edged with gold lace and part of the Durbar dress of the Mysore court in the 19th century.
Q.1 Why were the traditional feminine clothescr iticized in the 1830’s in England ?
Q.2 Why were the traditional feminine clothes criticised in America ?
Q.3 What were the demands of the National Woman Suffrage Association ?
Q.4 Who were the Shanars ? What restrictions were imposed on them ?
Q.5 What was the shoe-respect controversy ?
Q.6 Which was the most famous case of define of the ‘shoe-respect’ rule ? What was its result ?
Q.7 What was the role of the Tagore family in formulating a national dress ?
Q.8 How did the Brahmika sari come into being ?
Q.9 How did political control help the British ?
Q.10 What was the importance of Khadi for Mahatma Gandhi ?
Q.11 What do you mean by habits ?
Q.12 How clothes indicates marital status ? 
Q.13 Who are archacologist ?
Q.14 Why was Bengal partitioned.
Q.15 Explain the meaning of Swadeshi & Boycott.
Q.1 How did changes in clothing after the French Revolution express the idea of equality ?
Q.2 How did styles of clothing emphasise differences between men and women ?
Q.3 How did Indians react to the introduction of western clothes in the 19th century India ?
Q.4 How did the shanar women earn the right to cover their upper bodies ?
Q.5 Why did lord curzon partition Bengal ? What happened as a result ?
Q.6 What were the responses to mahatma Gandhi’s call to wear Khadi ?
Q.7 Explain how the clothing indicates social message.
Q.8 Explain the opinion of Gandhiji on Swadeshi and Boycott.
Q.9 Explain the impact of world wars on the clothing pattern of women.
Q.10 Explain the efforts undertaken by different Indians to design a national dress.
Q.1 Why did changes take place in women’s clothing in the 20th century ?
Q.2 Why and how did Mahatma Gandhi experiment with changes in clothing.
Q.3 Explain the origin and history of clothing.
Q.4 “Swadeshi and Boycott movement converted the national movement into mass movement” Explain.
Q.5 Explain how clothes were used by Gandhiji as a power weapon to protest against the British rule.

Q.1 Cap usually worn on one side is called -
(A) Cockade
(B) Ermine
(C) Corset
(D) Busk
Q.2 What do you mean by suffrage ?
(A) Right to freedom
(B) Right to vote
(C) Cotton cloth
(D) All of them
Q.3 What is Pabulum ?
(A) Participate in Political activities
(B) Took part in manufacturing
(C) Anything essential to maintain life and growth
(D) Type of fur
Q.4 What is Ermine ?
(A) Cap wore by soldiers
(B) Cotton cloth
(C) Nylon cloth
(D) Type of fur
Q.5 When was slavery abolished in Travancore ?
(A) 1855
(B) 1856
(C) 1857
(D) 1858
Q.6 When did Gandhiji first wear a lungi and kurta of -
(A) 1912
(B) 1913
(C) 1914
(D) 1915
Q.7 Ganhiji dressed like a .............. peasant -
(A) Bihari
(B) Rajasthani
(C) Kathiwadi
(D) All of these
Q.8 Who was M. Visveswaraya ?
(A) Teacher
(B) Doctor
(D) Engineer
Q.9 Second Round Table Conference was held in ........
(A) 1931
(B) 1932
(C) 1933
(D) 1934
Q.10 Shanars are is related to ........
(A) Lucy stone
(B) Community of toddy tappers
(C) Brahmika sari
(D) None of these
Q.No    1    2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10
Ans.     A   B   C   D   A   B   C   D   A   B

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