As interesting as the Indian history might be, a lot of the time focus is given mostly to the major sectors like clothes, dance, music, and rituals. Basically, things that are more obvious and easy to notice.
However, there is one area that is not given as much attention and that would be hairstyles, specifically the ancient Indian hairstyles.
A lot of our ancient sculptures and paintings give us a glimpse at the elaborate hairdos of the country and reveal how some of them are still being used to this day.
In 2015, during the World Heritage Week, the Director (Archeology) of Archeological Survey of India (ASI), Dr. D. N. Dimri said that “Probably in no other country has so much imagination and thought and artistic genius been applied to the art of hair dressing.”
He further added that “archeologists often refer to the hairstyle while studying and dating sculptures.”
Let us take a look at some of those hairstyles and the history behind them:
1. Natya Shastra Says Region Mattered
As per the Natya Shastra, the ancient Indian text on the performing arts, women would often take on hairstyles in accordance to their regional locations. Where the women of Gauda would wear their hair in a top knot or plait, the Malwa women would often wear curled hairstyles.
Some scholars even believe that apart from the region, hairstyles were also a way to differentiate between economic classes. The wealthier women would use elaborate hairstyles as a means to distinguish themselves from other classes.
2. Men Did Not Shy Away From Hairstyling
Unlike the popular notion that men do not care about things like hairstyles and that it is mainly a woman’s domain, ancient Indian men did not have the same mindset.
According to sources, in various visual representations, Mohenjodaro’s steatite ‘Priest King’ has been shown with an interesting hairdo that involved a coiffure or hair parted in the middle and tied together with a fillet on his head.
The gelled and swept back hairstyle that men still use could have come from the Kushan period as evident in sculptures made in the Gandhara art format. A form made from bronze depicting the head of a child during this era sports the same hairstyle.
3. Their Daily Hair Is Our Special Occasion Hair
It is also interesting to see how many of the daily hairstyles depicted on the women of ancient India are ones that modern women still use for special occasions.
The Mauryan period showed women as per Arthasastra bearing two types of hairstyles; either braided or shaved heads. However, it is the popular statue of Didarganj Yakshi that shows a beautiful hairdo where her hair neatly combed back are then tied in a bun that forms a loop at her back. It is further highlighted with an ornament on her forehead and some strings of beads.
Or even the hairstyles that the dancing girls of Harappan civilization sported, with their hair coiled and then having them rest in a heavy mass over one of the shoulders are today called chignon.
Image Credits: Google Images