NCERT Solutions for Class 9 History Chapter 8 - Clothing: A Social History
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Chapter 8 - Clothing: A Social History Exercise 178
The changes in clothing patterns and materials in the eighteenth century became possible due to the following reasons:
- Colonisation of most part of the world by Europe helped in the spread of democratic ideals and growth of an industrial society. This completely changed the ways in which people thought about dress and its importance.
- Development of capitalism and globalization brought together various people from different communities and cultures of life, which brought significant changes in the patterns. And materials.
- During the Industrial Revolution, the British began the mass manufacture of cotton textiles. This lead to more accessibility and affordability of cotton clothes to wider section of people in Europe.
- Prior to the French Revolution, people were expected to follow sumptuary laws which restricted the French people from wearing certain clothes. The end of French Revolution also resulted in the end of sumptuary laws and spread of democratic ideals of equality and liberty. This lead to people wearing dresses of their choices and developing their own culture of dressing.
There was an emergence of certain laws regulating people's clothing during Medieval Europe. These laws were known as sumptuary laws which were followed in France from about 1294 to the time of the French Revolution in 1789.
These laws tried to prevent the people considered socially inferior from wearing certain clothes, consuming certain foods and beverages (alcohol) and hunting games in certain areas.
In medieval France, the items of clothing a person could buy per year were regulated, not only by income but also by social rank.
Also, the material to be used for clothing was also legally approved. According to these 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.
Two examples in which European dress codes were different from Indian dress codes are as follows:
Example 1: Case of the turban and hat.
The two headgears - turban and hat - apart from looking different also signified different things. Indian men wore turbans not just for protection from the heat but also as a sign of respectability, which could not be removed at will. However, in Western traditions, the hat had to be removed before social superiors as a sign of respect. This created misunderstandings as the British often felt offended if Indians did not take off their turban when they met colonial officials.
Example 2: Case of wearing shoes.
Indians took off their shoes when they entered a sacred place or home due to two different bases. They took off shoes before entering homes because there was the problem of dirt and filth. Shoes collected the dirt on the road. This dirt could not be allowed into spaces that were clean, particularly when people in Indian homes sat on the ground. While entering sacred places, shoes had to be taken out as leather shoes and the filth that stuck under it were seen as polluting. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the British officials made it customary to follow Indian etiquette and remove their footwear in the courts of ruling kings or chiefs. Thus, the British expected the Indians to show the same respect and remove their footwear before entering the courtroom or any government institution.
Muslin would have fallen out in the early 1800s because of the following reasons:
- Various cheaper machine made clothes had flooded the Indian market.
- It was expensive as compared to the rest of the cloths, and hence would not be used.
Women in 19th century India were obliged to continue wearing traditional Indian dress even when men switched over to the more convenient Western clothing because of the following reasons:
- The condition of Indian women was miserable because India was a patriarchal society, where women were considered inferior to men.
- They had to follow the strict norms and codes of food and dress.
- They were expected to be delicate, docile and good house-makers and shoe respect for the opinion of the elders of the family.
- Wearing western clothes was regarded as a sign of shamelessness.
- As women were confined to home, there was no need for them to change their clothing as compared to men who had to switch to western clothing to please their colonial masters.
Winston Churchill described Mahatma Gandhi as a 'seditious Middle Temple Lawyer' now 'posing as a half naked fakir' because the latter while attending the Round Table Conference in 1931 was dressed like a poor man and wore dhoti made of coarse homespun cotton yarn. He adopted this particular clothing to show his support to the poor, encourage the boycott of British goods and to erase religious differences and class distinctions. It was also a protest against the British exploitation of Indian resources.
The symbolic strength of Mahatma Gandhi's dress lay in its greatest severity. Gandhi believed that it was his duty towards the poor to wear khadi and no other dress, so that they could identify with him. Also, wearing khadi became a symbol of nationalism and rejection of Western mill-made cloth.
Mahatma Gandhi's dream of clothing the nation in khadi appeal only to some sections of Indians because of the following reasons:
- Khadi was costly and not economically viable for the Indian people. Also, even if a common was willing to wear khadi clothes, it was not easy to purchase this item as it was an export item and was under control of the British.
- Indian society was highly diversified as people belonged to various castes, classes, religions. People followed their religions and customs, and therefore could not adopt khadi as their dress. For example: Motilal Nehru gave up his expensive Western-style suits and adopted the Indian dhoti and kurta, which weren't made of coarse cloth
- Most of the well-to-do Indians followed western style of clothing as they believed that it symbolised modernity and development.
- Many married woman preferred coloured clothes to white khadi due to social constraints. Examples: Sarojini Naidu and Kamala Nehru.
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