Phryne Fisher Costumes

I saw the new season stills circulating on tumblr (stills from here) and Phryne and clothes look amazing as usual so I felt compelled to take an Indian fashion break!

With bonus Jack and Dot.

The exhibition is coming to Melbourne – the stills are from here. Now to plan the trip and wait for S3 to start!

वसन्त ऋतु – Spring

wp1It’s spring in India. And while the illustration above* is all mildness and white (and indeed the kunda finds mention in a lot of Sanskrit spring poetry) the flowers of spring that are emblematic of the season are quite red on the whole.

The spray of red asoka as spring begins
is a public notice writ by love. Manovinoda, translated by Ingalls.

The month of Chaitra begins on 6 March 2015.  The month is associated with spring and in ancient India with the worship of the Asoka tree.

The Asoka constantly recurs in ancient Indian art and literature from the Asoka vatika to Buddhist folklore (with the Buddha said to be born under the Asoka tree or sometimes the Sal) to sculpture (also see X) to spring poems. The last of this often plays on tree flowering and women.

Pics above:  miniature painting of a maiden under a Asoka tree; cover of Amar Chitra Katha’s Malavikagnimitram, sculpture of a young woman pressing a Asoka tree with her foot and Asoka flowers painted by Zain-ul-Din.

wp1All around kimsuka groves blaze fiery red,
trees swaying in the breeze bend low flower-laden;
instantly transformed by Spring, the earth glows
like a radiant young bride in her robe of red silk. Ritusamhara (6-19) as translated by Chandra Rajan.

The kimsuka (Sanskrit, ‘like a parrot’ due to the flower resembling the beak of a parrot) or flame of the forest is a tree that flowers in spring.  The tree in bloom is a mass of orange and the branches and trunk sometimes leafless and dark giving rise to fire similes. Consequently it appears both in war poetry and classical love poetry.

The painting above is Spring by Avik Chakraborty.  As for that lotus bloom, classical Sanskrit poetry also describes ponds blooming with lotuses in spring.


Republic Day

“The concept of this procession and exhibition and everything else should be to demonstrate both the unity and great variety and diversity of India…..Each State should represent some distinctive feature of it’s own in the tableaux or in the exhibition or both. Thus the procession would be a moving pageant of India in its rich diversity.” Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952. Quote on Republic Day celebrations from Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism, Srirupa Roy.

Today, India’s 66th Republic Day, will see about 25 tableaux from States and Central ministries and departments.

In these 1958 pics the then Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru, poses with Republic Day contingents.  Pics include contingents from the East, North, Centre, Islands, South and West of the country (Manipur, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar, Madras, Kerala, Maharashtra and Rajasthan).

Source: photodivision

Home Science in India and the 1950s

Home Science teacher trainees in Poona in 1957 learn to make rangolis to ‘brighten up” traditional meals, pound rice, scrape coconut, use a “model kitchen” and much more…..including making some kitchen music.

Lots of nine-yard saris in there.


The Bindi Post


The tikli or spangle is worn in the Hindustāni Districts and not in the south. It consists of a small piece of lac over which is smeared vermilion, while above it a piece of mica or thin glass is fixed for ornament. Other adornments may be added, and women from Rājputāna, such as the Mārwāri Banias and Banjāras, wear large spangles set in gold with a border of jewels if they can afford it.  The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, 1916. [X]

AKA stick on bindis have a bit of a history. Bindi illustrations of 1916 in Pic 1 are quite varied and interesting.

The extract described one method of making bindis/tiklis/tikka before the ubiquitous stick-on glitter bindi packets of today. These tiklis served as a substitute for sindoor or vermilion in marriage ceremonies though both could be used. Pic 1 is from the text and illustrates the kinds of tiklis that could be achieved with the method described, given the lac base I assume these were then stuck on in some manner.  Pics 2 and 3 (2 from the1950s and 3 contemporary) are probably made by a similar method or approximate the 1916 tiklis.

Per the book Lakheras and Patwas made these tiklis.

The 1930s Post

nalini tarkhadShe wore an exquisite pink sari and the delicate gold thread embroidery on it added to the charm of both.  The vermilion mark and the tiny decorative dots of colour on her forehead and the collyrium-touched eyes added much grace to her. 16 Modern Marathi Short Stories 1961

Nalini Tarkhad in the 1930s. [X]

Other 1930s saris: X, X

Bits n Bobs

Gharara/Sharara…still confused by the many definitions.

Raghu adds a few more explanations to 1950s hairstyles.

Bengal’s laterite soil makes for Japanese dye.

Please admire Waheeda – X and X.