In Ancient India, people wore clothes according to their position and role in society. Soldiers were different from ascetics who were different from prosperous setthis and royalty or common farmers and artisans. Clothes also had ritualistic and a social significance.
This short exposition is but an introduction to the complexities of clothing in Ancient India. Some common features across space and time can be discerned. A very intriguing feature is the gender neutrality of the basic dress. The variations and twists given to dress by women or men cannot hide the fact that the three items of dress— the uttariya, antariya and kayabandh— were common to both the sexes. The same unstitched piece of cloth could be worn equally by a man or a woman. Contrast this with Victorian England, for instance , where the cumbersome skirts and whalebone stays of women were impediments to free movement in strong contrast to the trousers and breeches worn with waist coats and vests by men. An indication as to how differently the roles of both the genders were visualised in these two societies?
Contemporary efforts for a new understanding of Ancient India could truly profit from this perspective.