Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Fascinating Twist on the Turban

My “India Rising” Series gave way to a wonderful exploration of Indian culture and traditions. The question I ask myself is this: “Is the featured painting today an end to my India series?” I have no idea. My research has already entranced me with India’s colorful images of elephants adorned for festivals and celebrations.

In the last painting of the series, “Prince of Thieves,” I placed a turban on the “ring leader” knowing that the turban is recognized in India as a symbol of honor and respect. And what thief or vagabond doesn’t want respect from his followers?

Contemporary turbans come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be very large or of moderate size depending on region, culture, and religion. Turbans are worn in India to signify class, caste, profession, or religious affiliation; some can be very elaborate.

Some turbans are adorned specifically for special occasions or just for fun.

Almost any color may be used, although white is the most traditional. Pink turbans are worn in the Spring to celebrate new growth and productivity. Red is a harvest color and is used by farmers and the working class. But in today’s India, the colors are often chosen simply because they “match” the outfit worn.

India has “come a long way, baby,” and Vogue Magazine’s Indian issue showed models on the runway wearing various versions of the turban or “pagri” an Indian word for turban or headdress. Some of the head wear was bejeweled and some plain. Bollywood, India’s version of Hollywood, features the best in up-to-date fashion and Indian tradition.

Many communities hold turban wrapping contests to keep the spirit of the turban alive. Different lengths are required, and the contestants take their strips of cloth and wrap them around their heads. The first one finished is the winner. The longer the length of the cloth, the bigger and higher the turban. Many varieties of cloth, color and patterns are used.

The style and height of the turban varies between rural areas and the teeming cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai. I’ve shown you a variety of these styles in this blog.

I also found a plethora of information on YouTube that was done by BBC TV for PBS. The link below is the 1st in the series. There are two series, one with 24 videos, the other with approx. 17.
I hope you will explore the interesting country of India.