Indian Royals – 1

r11Unidentified man, Jaipur, possibly royalty. Painted portrait (gelatin silver print and watercolour) from the 1930s.

The collared coat is possibly a sherwani – a garment that displaced the jama, angarkha kind of tunics of the Mughal and Rajput courts by the late 19th/early 20th century. As in this pic you could wear a shirt under the sherwani. Collars were less common than the bandhgala or mandarin collar version.   While there is a lot of variation in turbans in India in the 19th century by the 1930s this kind of safa pagri was common in North India (South India favoured the Mysore peta). Ear piercings for men was common in India but it’s use declined over the 20th century.

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Rajasthan princes, 1920s. Possibly grooms since both wear sehras. Rather different from the Punjabi sehra you normally see, also looks a little uncomfortable. The sherwani of pic 1 is probably silk with gold embroidery, pic 2 looks like a brocade/silk jama. Pic 1 also reminds me of Sushant Singh Rajput🙂

r12Sahibzada Abdul Aziz Khan* and Sa’adat Ali Khan of Tonk in 1925, the latter became the Nawab in 1930. The sherwanis are possibly velvet with gold/silver embroidery. Even though this style is seen in many historical, it is more late 19th/early 20th cent. – it is seen in a number of portraits in this period.  Caps (topi) as seen on the Sahibzada were also often of velvet with gold/silver thread embroidery.

Sometimes the edging of the sherwani is not embroidered but more in the manner of trims as on the senior Nawab of Tonk.


*per my notes poisoned two years after this photograph was taken.

r15Maharaja Pratap Singh, Jammu and Kashmir, circa 1900. [X]

More often than not vintage photographs of Indian royalty display a good deal of finery and jewellery so that the two seem synonymous. But dressing styles in fact varied a lot and were sometimes austere as in this portrait of Pratap Singh (see also the Gwalior Maharaja).

The jama with the side open flap and turban is seen in other 19th century portraits like this one of Raja Deen Dayal.

Official portraits were a different matter. Even in this portrait the Maharaja wears little accessories bar what I think is the Star of India paraphernalia.


About Anu M

A potted history of Indian clothing and fashion.
This entry was posted in 1900s, 1920s, 1930s, 20th century, Colonial, Costume, Culture, Early 20th Century, historical costume, historical dress, historical fashions, History, India, Indian Dress, Indian fashion, Indian History, Indian men, Indian royalty, Islamic Dress, Islamic style, Painted Photographs, Photography, Royalty, vintage costume, Vintage Men and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Indian Royals – 1

  1. Shruti w says:

    Anu, thank you so much for this space. It’s great work you are doing. This is something which even I as a costume designer find really interesting and love referring to. Love your posts and look forward to them.

    • Anu M says:

      Thanks Shruti and I am glad you like it. I am probably a little too obsessed with it :). But its an inexhaustible well to draw from, there is so much to Indian style.

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