Monday, 27 September, 2021

Nepali Attires, In All Their Glory


 Persijs Muiznieks

 "Culture is an inexhaustible mountain river that brings more and more new knowledge, whose value will be appreciated by the next generation."
Working winds have brought me to many countries of the world. From Greenland to Africa, from Europe to Russia, and to the Pacific region. I have had the opportunity to be a witness to different indigenous people's ceremonies, festivals and religious rites which they practised, and maintained honour, as a sacred inheritance from distant ancestors.
The man-made myths, which throughout the centuries have been twined with legends possesses immense power of attraction, that a man sometimes fails to explain, why?
No force can stand against human-induced culture. In whatever form, people's customs and traditions are manifested; dance, folklore, handicrafts etc., that is, and remains, as an authentic proof that possess and practised only by a particular ethnic group. The longer those traditions are preserved and kept alive, the brighter it forms a kind of difference between neighboring cultural traditions.
   Cultural Mantle
What is it that creates and helps protect the cultural mantle? In simple terms, individuals and communities live in the nature. Neighborhoods make up the varied differences in communities' lives and protect them. The sharper the differences in the surrounding nature, the peculiar are a community language, clothing and behaviour culture.
The surrounding nature not only shapes cultural characteristics, but also  participates in its conservation. This is particularly noticeable in mountainous regions where tribes are settled permanently. The mountains are formed as a natural barrier that protects the tribes, not only from the drastic climatic changes, but also from neighbouring community's influence, which is - in all walks of life, in culture and social business. Deeper in the mountain valley, isolated from the other communities  tribe lives, the most original and cleaner is its language, dress and behavioural culture.
Not just mountains and valleys make up the physical and psychological barrier. They are also water-divide, which divides the island or groups, with extensive water arrays. Such as the Pacific archipelago where tribes / communities until today practising the primaeval life style, thus maintaining the cultural values still undiluted by influences from the outside world.
Contrary to the mountainous region, with much sharper differences in social and cultural life, it is noticeable the regions with less topographic relief. In the course of everyday life, it mixes language, dressing and behavioral characteristics. There are no natural barriers, which helps to protect individuals or communities' cultural values. The multicultural relationship between the man, were forced to accept the face of daily social life rhythm, so very diluting an individual / tribes cultural core values that have lost their identity. In order to maintain its original form, people establish communities. Although localised, this activity encourages to keep on, still existing tribal traditions, less damage from the daily environment.
   Clothing, Adornment And Other Features
In any part of the world, mountainous areas are characterised by a special magical atmosphere that emits natural and man-made color-rich cultural treasures. The combined synthesis of nature and man, coloured ornaments forms a historical mosaic that is woven into national costumes. A handmade national costume is the soul and pride of Nepalese culture. The embroidery and decoration of each costume conveys its meaning and legacy of the past.
It is amazing to see the common language of man and nature, where as an integral part is to influence each other. Navigating mountain trails requires a lot of effort and a lot of courage. The small height of the mountaineer, short legs, wide hips (for a woman) is a precondition for travel. Look at the mountaineer's feet, they are wide, massive toes, slightly curved legs, which provides stability when hiking, even with a heavy load on the back, sometimes close to human weight.
   Mountain Region
Mostly it takes the northern part of Nepal and the Himalayan mountain range. Climate conditions are harsh. Local tribes living in this region trying to adapt to the climate, wear thick types of garments to cover all parts of the body, from head to toe. 
The head is covered with up to 3 metres long headgear,-Thot in white, which is wrapped in a special shape following the winding direction. It also tends to be a different colour depending on the circumstances. However, often the headgear has a different shape with wide edges and is trimmed with decorations. Particularly rich in colourful embroidery is the body cape - Gyanma, which wraps tightly around the neck, has long sleeves and stretches well over the knees. Made from yakka wool that maintains a warm body temperature during the cold winter months.
Warm winter shoes,-Swoba covers the feet. They are made of double material that extends almost to the knees, without special outsole material and are not moisture resistant. Richly embroidered.
A woman's clothing is always richer with embellishments, both in colour and in jewellery. The more ornaments the higher the nobility. However, clothing and the use of jewellery differ significantly between married and single women.
Gajyung, a triangular hat with wide edges that tapers at the back. On both corners of the hat are hanging jewelery -Tumtumya, made of silver.
A thick woollen coat-like blanket, Gyanma, which stretches slightly over the knees, is enriched with colourful embroidery. It has a shorter sleeve that reveals a white shirt-Burya, made of cotton fabric. Long thick trousers folded into shoes -Swoba, are also made of the same fabric. Around the waist is wrapped, a wide, three-metre long belt, Kyara,  which comes in a different colour, depending on applicability.
Jewellery can rarely be seen as a complement to a man's clothing. In exceptional cases, it may be a knife, Kukhuri, having more practical significance. Usually it is fastened behind the belt.
An integral part of the decoration, which indicates a certain privilege in the commune, is the money chain, -Syabar, which is made up of many coins minted together. They are usually iron-made, - rarely silver forgings.
On the dark brown (burgundy) -Gyanma, a great color contrast is created by necklaces -Wolkhor (Iwu) strung with green Turquize and Tourmaline. At the same time, they can be several, varying in length, and consist of coarse-grained rocks such as Topaz, Amethist, Quartz… Posyol Kangba, Mutik, Nyadar.
The necklace design can come in many different combinations of stones of various colours, supplemented with silver or iron. According to jewellery wearers, each adornment has its own symbolic and divine significance.
   Hill Region
 The region occupies the central part of the state, and stretches from the eastern parts to the western border. It is the most densely populated multicultural district with many ethnic groups and communities that maintain their own language and traditions. Thanks to better infrastructure and better roads, it is possible to build ties between communities.
Seeing the diversity of ethnic groups, in its context, the national costumes reflect almost all the colours of the rainbow and their diverse design is rationally suited to mountainous terrain ranging from 500m to 2500m above the sea level.
The head is covered in a richly ornate cylinder-shaped hat,- Syahmu, with a leather border. The left shoulder is covered by a blanket,- Gnecnen, so that the shoulder and right arm are exposed. Directly on the naked body beneath the cloak is a coarse cloth shirt,- Tochi. Its collar and sleeve ends are embroidered with ornaments. There is a tight-fitting three-meter-long belt,- Kauthimmun, around the waist, behind which is usually a knife. As a small decoration but with a practical meaning, the hands have a cup,- Kere, made of wood with brass and iron cladding. The feet have warm, thick cloth shoes on, -Jhompu.                                                                               
   Terai Region
 It takes almost the entire southern part of the country and stretches from the eastern to the western border. This region is less dependent on weather conditions. Along the Nepal-India border stretches motorway, which provides intensive, both internal and external trade.
Here is evidence of a major impact from the neighboring country, India, which increasingly penetrates deep in Nepal's social life. Despite the fact that the Terai region has many communities, however, strikingly uniformity is visible, in both clothing and traditions. The reason is that there is also a warm climate and a multi-cultural environment, which more or less levels and forms a singular cultural tradition.
The colour of the clothes and the decorations indicate a special statute in the commune. However, given the hot climate in the region, the outfit is simple and practical.
It is based on the traditional Sari, which is sometimes up to 6m long and easily covers the entire body. The head cover Pagri (for a man), also used as a towel and face cover. A long shirt that stretches almost to the knees, Kurta, and waist bandage, Dhoti, are usually made of cotton fabric. Brightly colored Sari - Hogh, with embellishments. Necklace, - Mangalsutra made of silver. Bracelets, Churi / Lahathi that give a woman a special statue. 
Very different and multicoloured, the Tharu costume is richly complemented with silver jewellery items hanging from the ears, nostrils and neck, around the arms and legs.
 This group has many subgroups that represent their costumes in different colors and decorations.
 If we generally look at the number of all tribes and unregistered communes, then their number would be given in several hundred. Will it ever be recognised?
(Muizneks, from Finland, writes about Nepal's culture and ethnicity)