The 1980s Recap

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Apologies for my absence!

As always on tumblr the 1980s. Not the best of decades for fashion but damn young Supriya Pathak was a goddess. And my style icon back in time. And a good actress to boot – someone please resurrect Idhar Udhar for us 1980s DD tragics. The other photograph is of Jayalalitha and Sivasankari. True story. I met Sivasankari once on a flight. Lovely lady.  We had a brief chat in which I defended my lack of Tamil reading skills – what can I say, it was the age of Rushdie and Roy – recalling this makes me deeply embarrassed.

And all the work on each decade at this link. This might be the last decade I cover because I can’t make up my mind about the 1990s – retro or not?! Also 1990s fashion – just looking at it makes me faintly depressed….


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I spent some time in Ubud, Bali and despite being overrun with tourists it seemed to suffer little from the usual soulless nature of such places. It helped that I wasn’t in Ubud “proper” though I missed out on a few performances.  I can’t believe I never made the trip from Australia! Its been a long time since I felt such utter bliss, I left very reluctantly:)

The photograph of the 4 girls is taken at Tirta Empul, Bali.  The dress for a upacara (ceremony) includes a kamen (sarong) generally ikat or batik, kebaya (lace jacket) and selendang (outer sash for kebaya, also generally the minimum requirement for entering a temple). The sabuk was traditionally a long broad cloth wound from the hips and around the torso over which the kebaya is worn. Also keeps the kamen in place. I think this has been replaced by a tube top these days though there must be some additional means for securing the kamen.

Ritual cloth is everywhere in Bali. Along with Indonesian terms for clothing like kain you also chance upon wastra (Sanskrit) and dastar (Persian) now and then.

The Autumn Post

We are kind of heading towards autumn in India. Less marked by weather and more by festivals these days. So a little bit about the kuṟiñci, an autumnal flower, that bloomed in some parts of the South this year.

krThe poems that are set in the autumn months are remarkably consistent in imagery and in resulting mood.  In the Sanskrit and Prakrit poems, the monsoon has ended, the skies have cleared, and the whole world is cool and washed clean, leaving the poets with a fresh emotional canvas. The Tamil poems set in the autumn months are composed in the kuṟiñci (conehead flower) landscape, the one appropriate to love-in-union and more especially to love that is kalavu (stolen, clandestine) and not yet legitimized by formal marriage. These poems are set by convention in the hills, and even though the heavy rains of the monsoon have ended, the poets who composed poems in this context still draw on rainy, misty imagery set against the dense darkness of midnight. The Circle of Six Seasons, A Selection from Old Tamil, Prakrit and Sanskrit Poetry.

The Kuṟiñci (குறிஞ்சி) is a shrub that flowers once in twelve years.  This year is one of them.  It is often associated with autumn (शरद्) by way of the season’s association with the kuṟiñci poetic mode. In general what is referred to is the neelakuṟiñci (blue kuṟiñci).

Kuṟiñci painting by Remya Kumar.

Neelakuṟiñci up close.

The 1970s Recap

Wrapped up the 1970s on tumblr: 1970s, sari history, fashion history.

Jaya-Bhaduri-in-Piya-Ka-GharAnd a very random round up of the decade it was:

Indira Gandhi was elected Prime Minister with a decisive majority in 1971.

The same year the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.  Subsequently the Simla Agreement took place (the young Benzair Bhutto in Simla).

The Shillong Accord took place in 1975.

Nav Nirman, the Bihar Movement and the Chipko Movement all began in 1974.

Emergency was declared on 25 June 1975. It led to the arrest of many of India’s leaders.  The Emergency is a well documented period in Indian history e.g. the compulsory sterilisation program of the years, the killings at Turkman Gate, the Rajan case and the incarceration and death of Snehlata Reddy.

The lifting of Emergency in 1977 was followed by a general election which led to a new government, the first time Congress lost power after Independence. Parliament was however dissolved in 1979 and Indira Gandhi was back as Prime Minister in 1980. The same year Sanjay Gandhi was killed in an aircrash.

The Marichjhapi incident took place in 1979. The incident is referenced in Amitava Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide.

The Samba Spy Scandal also took place in 1978-1979.

MISA and COFEPOSA were the 1970s best known acronyms.

India conducted its first nuclear weapon explosion in 1974. Aryabhata was India’s first satellite followed by Bhaskara in 1979.

In 1978 the Sarda Act was amended to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 for girls and 21 for boys.

The Mathura rape case in 1972 led to amendments in laws pertaining to rape, albeit only by 1983.

The crash of Air India 855 was the biggest in Indian aviation history until the 90s.  The Morbi dam disaster took place in 1979.

India won the hockey World Cup in 1975.

Amar Chitra Katha’s major titles date back to the 70s.

Though the 1970s started with the “King of Romance”, Rajesh Khanna by the end of the decade Amitabh Bachchan, the Angry Young Man persona and Sholay had all happened.

Apparently Panna Dossa was the big cheese of sari fashion in the 1970s. She started a sari store called Kalindi and designed saris for Indira Gandhi (opinions vary wildly on her as a politician but sartorially she rarely put a foot wrong) but I can’t find much else on her.

70s: The decade of innocence.


Plucky Girl

Sanskrit poetry is so often full of lovelorn ladies unable to bear separation from the hero (Virahotkanthita Nayika). And this recurs often in those Radha-Krishna paintings. And of course Hindi cinema is full of “viraha” songs.  But none of that for this 7th/8th century lady in the Amaru Shataka (translated as Erotic Love Poems from India) going her own way.

The 1960s in India.

In no specific order:

The decade started with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister and ended with Indira Gandhi as the PM.  From 1964-1966, we had Lal Bahadur Shastri (pictured here in 1964) as the Prime Minister.

In 1961 Goa was annexed becoming India’s 21st state. Portuguese enclaves like Daman & Diu also became a part of India as Union Territories.

The country was at war twice in the decade: The Sino-Indian war of 1962  and the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965.

Shastri was responsible for the Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan slogan of the 1960s.  Shastri’s visit to Amul was the first step in Operation Flood aka White Revolution that began in the 1960s and was intended to make India milk-sufficient. Per this link the Amul Girl was born in 1966.

Around 1961-1963 also saw the introduction of high yielding rice and wheat in India (see Green Revolution).  Part of agricultural policy post this decade was also a result of the Bihar famine of 1966-67.

The banks were nationalised in 1969.

The Naxalbari uprising took place in 1967.

The Dhori colliery disaster took place in 1965. It is listed amongst the world’s worst mine accidents.

Hindi was declared the official language of the nation in 1965 for all government transactions. Following anti-Hindi riots, English was adopted as an associate language in the same year.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad qas founded in 1964, the Shiv Sena in 1967.

The National Institute of Design was set up in 1961 subsequent to The India Report (by Charles and Ray Eames) in 1958.

The State of Art in 1960s India.

Reita Faria becomes the first Indian woman to win an international beauty pageant.

The fashions you have already seen.  The big stars of the decade – Sadhana, Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore, Saira Banu et al – sported tightly draped saris, tightly draped churidar-kameez, big hair, pale lips and dramatic eye make-up. The Sadhana fringe was a bonafide craze. Sharmila Tagore rocked a bikini. And there was Helen, the cabaret queen of the country.

Ray, Ghatak and Mrinal Sen worked through the 60s but by the end of the decade you see the beginnings of the parallel cinema movement of the 70s and 80s in films like Gejje Pooje, Sara Akash etc with Bhuvan Shome being a commercial success. [X]

Ads from the 60s in India and Pakistan – X, X, X

Rock in the 60s. The Sri Lankans visit. And the Beatles in India.

A general sum up of the decade through foreign eyes.

1960s. Sari History.