Understanding the Awesome Longevity of Indian Fashion
Longevity of Indian Fashion
A lot of people are really blown away by the fact that the sari, both as a dress and as a design concept, doesn’t really change all that much in hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
What’s going on? Why is this piece of clothing pretty much the same as it was in the days of the Buddha when a pretty much everything else has gone through the ravages of time? Whether we’re talking about the Roman toga, Greek nudity, or Egyptians loincloths, it seems that the national dress for most civilizations found throughout the world has gone through tremendous sea changes over time.
If you need a vivid example of this, you only need to look at China. The way Chinese fashion has evolved dramatically from the time of the first Chin emperor, to the Han, to the Ming Dynasty, all the way to communist China and Mao suit. Look at China now. Everybody is wearing the latest and greatest design out of Milan, Italy. Hardly would you come across somebody who would say that there is a distinct, unbroken design line between the way Chinese currently dress and the way they used to dress back in the Chin Dynasty.
The same claim can be made with the sari. There are many ancient writings in the dead Sanskrit language that depict women wearing saris. What accounts for this amazing longevity? The answer is actually quite simple. The sari is a manifestation of Indian culture, which turn is a manifestation of Hinduism.
While there are many Muslim-Indians, everybody would agree that Hindu religion plays a very central role in how Indian culture is discussed, remembered and analyzed. This is a central fact, and given this reality, it’s easy to see why a sari doesn’t change because Hinduism as a concept really hasn’t changed in thousands of years.
Out of many lie a central unity. The same motif applies to the sari. There are many different manifestations of saris, different cuts, or a wide range of colors, and this leads to a tremendously diverse sensory impression of saris, both worn and hung on a rack.
The same applies to Indian religion. Out of the diversity of the millions of gods in India, there is a unity of the sacred texts that flow into each other which connote essentially an unchanging Indian outlook and cosmological point of view that persists to the very day. Given this backdrop, it’s not a surprise that the sari has essentially remained unchanged despite thousands of years of Indian history.
As India positions itself to be the next global powerhouse next to China thanks to its huge population, healthy population growth rate and emphasis on education and innovation, you can expect the sari to keep up with all the changes. Instead of throwing away its essential elements, the sari will remain the same while being innovative at the same time. It has been able to manage this for thousands of years, you can bet that it will be able to do the same long into the future.