India | Tamil Nadu

Bharatanatyam Costume

A dance costume reflects the history and tradition of the region from where the dance has originated. Bharatanatyam, which belongs to Tamil Nadu, feature a costume made from brightly colored silk fabric containing borders made with golden colored embroidery.

In olden days, a dancer used to wrap around her body a 9 yard saree. This has been replaced with a silk pyjama to enable the easy change. A v-shaped pleated cloth is attached between the legs. There is a back sheet and an upper cloth called ‘thavani’. Young girls, below the age of 15, usually wear a silk skirt instead of saree or pyjama. The hairdo is made from a single long braid decorated with flowers.

Jewelry of a Bharatanatyam dancer conforms to the tradition of Indian classical dance by wearing the temple jewelry. The designs are borrowed from the ornaments worn by the temple deities. These ornaments are made of silver coated with gold. They contain artificial gems embedded into them.

The ornaments consist of necklaces, ‘vanki’ armband, ‘odinayam’ (waistband), a nose stud and a ‘jhumiki’ (swinging earring). The necklaces are of two types: ‘mangalamalai’ and ‘kasumalai’. The ‘mangalamalai’ is made up of tiny mango-shaped rings linked together, while the ‘kasumalai’ is made up of coins attached together. Pure gold ornaments are avoided because of their weight.

Updated on 7th December, 2018


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