A thread sample was removed from a copper bead excavated at Harappa in 1999. It was silk. This new discovery of silk in the Indus Valley pushes back the earliest date of silk outside of China by a millennium, states the research done under the auspices of Harvard’s Harappa Archaeological Research Project. A team from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, New York University and Harvard University jointly carried out recent work at Harappa. Mohenjo Daro, a film directed by Ashutosh Gowariker that releases on August 12, 2016 is set in the Harappan civilization. Historical accuracy of the cast’s clothes, and headgear is a subject of great interest to the fashion bloggers.
The Indus Civilization was one of the great river civilizations of the ancient world, covering an area larger than that of Mesopotamia or of Egypt. It extended from the Himalaya and Hindu Kush to the coastal regions of Kutch and Gujarat; westward into Baluchistan and eastward into northwestern India. Harappa was the first of the Indus cities to be discovered. The civilization spanned over 3000 years.
The release of the trailer for the movie Mohenjo Daro set fashion bloggers a titter. April Ferry who won an Emmy Award for the costumes in the TV show Rome had initially worked on the film’s costumes.
After she left Neeta Lulla stepped in. Lulla had worked with Hrithik Roshan in Jodhaa Akbar a film known for its opulent costumes. What is the verdict of the fashion history nazis on the first peek into the movie?
“The trailer says it’s 2016 BC. It’s a bit worrisome that the next time someone Googles “Mohenjo Daro Costumes” for educational purposes, they’ll stumble upon snapshots from the film!” blogs Purushu Arie.
Among the many things he points us is the fact that “India is a hot and humid nation and due to climatic conditions, both men and women living in the time of Mohenjo Daro simply wrapped a rectangular cloth in lungi style. Bifurcated garments came much later around the time of the Kushanas.” The movie hints at tailored garments.
Small fragments of cloth preserved in the corrosion products of metal objects show that the Harappans wove a range of grades of cotton cloth. Flax was grown and may have been used for fibers. (Good, Irene, J.M Kenoyer and R.H. Meadow (2009) “New evidence for early silk in the Indus Civilization”.)
Hirthik Roshan’s pristine white clothes have therefore not found favor with Purushu either. “Though the bleaching technique was known to the ancient Indians, they mostly used natural bleaching techniques like sun drying and so on, and not chemicals like chlorine or peroxides. As a result, pristine white clothes never existed in ancient history and they always had a slight beige shade.”
Evidence found hints at men wearing a cloth around the waist. Women’s clothing seems to have been a knee-length skirt. In fact, as per some figurines, women sometimes went bare-breasted. In fact the movie carries a large plate on the wall, revealing this historical information.
The heroine, Chaani is shown wearing a blue (Indigo) and red colored dress. Both these colors were common in the Indus Valley Civilization, with blue being a ‘regal’ and ‘rare’ color. Anju Modi the designer who put together costumes for the historic film Bajirao Mastani said to Asian Age, “The whole attire is very modern, and I can’t understand if it is imaginary or a real life character. One can’t criticize the director’s vision without knowing the context of the film, and it is something that one can figure out only after having watched the movie. Going by the name of the film, Mohenjo Daro, one would expect the first look to be very true to the essence of the film and imagine the protagonist to be dressed in something that is very raw, rustic, basic and handmade considering the era it is set in.”
Kabir Bedi, the villain of the piece, supports a headgear similar to the one found on the famous Pashupati (‘Proto Sivo’) Seal.’ The circle in the middle of the forehead is adopted from the bust of a bearded man found in Harappa.
DailyO has the last word. We’ll really know only in August this year. Till then, it’s Fantasia in the Mound of the Dead.
Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an avid reader of history, a discipline in which she has a post-masters degree.