gagara (Wrap-around Skirt)

About this object

History of use

To be worn with a matching veil (1472/6b) and a backless blouse (choli or kancheeri), along with ivory or white plastic bracelets covering the upper and lower arms, as wedding attire by brides who are members of a particular caste. The skirt is worn gathered at the waist and tied with a string. Subtle differences in design, colour and pattern, or in the way the skirt is pleated or gathered, occur among different villages. A woman purchases the skirt and veil from a printer for her daughter’s wedding.


Purchased by Razia Ahmed from the printer in Khipro, Sindh.

Cultural context


Iconographic meaning

The colour red symbolizes blood and life. It is associated with weddings and is always included in dowry garments. There are references to tie-dyed cloth as symbolic of fidelity in Sindhi folk poetry.

Specific techniques

Bandhani means “to tie.” Before dyeing, the textile is printed with the design using a wooden block and a temporary dye that washes out. A continuous string, which has been dipped in wax, is used to firmly tie all the pattern elements on the piece before dyeing. After dyeing and washing, the string is removed.

Physical description

Woman’s skirt, consisting of a long, rectangular, dark red and black length of tie-dyed cotton textile. A large red central panel is bordered at one selvage edge by a narrow (19 cm wide) black band and at the opposite selvage edge by a wider (41 cm wide) black band. Clusters of white, yellow and red geometric patterns formed by tie-dyed dots are widely scattered throughout.