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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Salwar or Shalwar is cloth worn from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately. It is the lower-garment of the Shalwar kameez suit which is widely-worn in South Asia. It is known for its lively hues, rich fabrics, and embroidery.[1][2][3] It is also the national dress of Pakistan,[4][5] since the later 1960s with the salwar being used in government offices in Pakistan.[6] The outfit has been a part of Punjabi tradition for centuries.[7][8] Salwar can be distinguished to the Punjabi suthan which is shorter than the salwar. Salwar originated in Central Asia and its use spread to South Asia.


  • Afghani shalwar - tends to be loose.
  • Anarkali shalwar - slim fitted salwar.
  • Peshawari shalwar - is very loose down to the ankles.
  • Balochi shalwar - has a very roomy salwar using large lengths of cloth.
  • Punjabi shalwar - is wide at the top but fits closely to the legs and is gathered at the ankles.
  • Saraiki shalwar - is very wide and baggy with many voluminous folds.
  • Sindhi shalwar- is plaited at the waist.


Early history

Shalwar is a lower garment, with different regions having different types. The earliest form of the shalwar originated in Central Asia and its use was spread to South Asia as well as the Arab world, Turkey and wherever the Turks established their empires in the 12th century.[9][10] The Ottomans spread the use of the salwar throughout its empire.[11] Salwar was brought in South Asia after the arrival of Muslims in the 13th century. It was first worn by Mughal nobles. The use of the salwar in the Punjab region has been the result of influences from the Middle East, Central Asian Turks[12] and finally, the Afghans.

In India, there is a similar dress salwar known as suthaan which is shorter than the salwar.[13] The Punjabi suthan suit which is made up of the head scarf, kurta/kurti and Punjabi suthan.[14] Dogri pajama and the churidar. The term salwar kameez also includes the Kashmiri Phiran/suthan outfit.

In the Punjab region, the salwar was made using a large amount of material but had no pleats or folds. The large salwar eventually gave rise to the Punjabi salwar.[15]

Punjabi salwar

In its strictest sense, the salwar is baggy and loose straight down the legs, and gathered loosely at the ankles. During the medieval period, people adopted the Iraqi style of salwar in Multan and neighbouring Sindh.[16][17] This type of salwar is traditionally very baggy and gathered at the ankles. It is still worn by the Kurdish community in Iraq. The presence of the baggy salwar was noted by Alberuni in the 11th century A.D.[16] and continued to be envogue between the 16th and 18th centuries C.E. in Multan[18]

The Multani salwar is similar to the loose Punjabi suthan. Therefore, the distinction between the loose Punjabi suthan and the loose Multani salwar is fine and centres on the tight ankle band in the suthan, and on the suthan beginning to fit closer to the legs below the knees.

The original Punjabi loose salwar was not as baggy as the Multani style but was wide, with the gathering at the ankles being wide enough to cover the feet. Originally, up to ten yards of cloth was used to make Punjabi salwars.[19] The original Punjabi salwar was also not as baggy as other forms of the salwar, such as the type worn in Afghanistan (partug)), the Balochi salwar,[20] or the loose Punjabi suthan, and gathers more quickly below the knees and ends in a tight band. Eventually the modern Punjabi salwar came into being which is slim fitting and does not have wide ends as before.

Another style of salwar is the Pothohari salwar of the Pothohar area of the Punjab region.[21] The Pothohari salwar retains the wideness of the Punjabi suthan. The kameez is also wide. The chunni is a remnant of the large chadar popular in West Punjab known as salari[22] and the large Phulkari worn in various areas of the Punjab region. However, the Pothohari salwar suit did not attain universal acceptance. The Bahawalpuri salwar is also wide and baggy[23] with many folds. The material traditionally used for the Bahawalpuri shalwar and suthan is known as Sufi which is a mixture of cotton warp mixed with silk weft and gold threads running down the material.[24][25]

Punjabi kameez

The Punjabi kameez is also cut straight with side slits.[26] This combination makes up the Punjab salwar suit outfit,[27][28] which is very popular,[27][29] and was developed in the Punjab region.[30] The Punjabi ghagra is now rarely worn.

Before the development of the Punjabi salwar suit, the traditional dress of women of Punjab was the Punjabi Ghagra, Punjabi suthan[31] and choli/kurti/kameez.[28][32][33][34]

Female dress: Punjabi salwar suit

The Punjabi salwar Suit is worn in the Punjab in India and Pakistan. It consists of the chunni (head scarf), jhagga(kameez) and the salwar when worn by women. The chunni can be of varying lengths. The jhagga (kameez) is made up of two rectangular pieces sewn together with side slits, similar to a tunic. A kurta is also worn.

The salwar is similar to pajamas or pants, wide at the top and tightened loosely around the ankles with hard material, called paunchay. In the Punjab, the salwar kameez is also known as the chunni jhagga salwar suit.

Male Dress: Punjabi salwar suit

In some parts of the Punjab region, especially the urban areas of Punjab, Pakistan,[35] males wear the men's Punjabi suit. The upper garment is made of the straight cut kurta/kameez and the salwar resembles a slim fit pajama. In the past, the suthan was also commonly worn by men,[36][37] a trend which can still be seen in some parts of the region (especially Jammu and Himachal Pradesh).


In Turkic Central Asian culture, the salwar is accompanied by a tunic, forming the upper garment.[38]


The Ghaznavid Turks popularised the salwar/tunic attire in Afghanistan.[39][40]

Kashmir region

The use of the suthan or the salwar has been adopted in other areas. People in Jammu have changed the traditional attire from the peshwaj (flowing to the ankles) [41] to the kurta and Dogri suthan. The Phiran is worn in Kashmir[42] traditionally flowed to the ankles, is now of varying lengths and is worn with a loose suthan. Kashyap Bandhu is regarded as the person responsible for spreading the use of the suthan with the phiran amongst the communities that resisted to adopt its use, eventually leading to the use of the salwar.[43] However, the traditional Kashmiri suthan is loose, similar to the styles worn in Afghanistan[44] with some wearing styles similar to the Dogri suthan. The Punjabi salwar suit has also become popular.[45]

Elsewhere in India and Pakistan, Muslim communities have traditionally worn the style of salwar worn by the Mughals combining them with Mughal upper garments such as the jamma. However, the salwar is now worn by members of various communities in India and Pakistan.[46]


Salwar kameez is worn on the Sindhi cultural day along with Ajrak. Women in Sindh wear the cholo (kameez).[47][48]


The traditional male dress in Bangladesh is the lungi and kurta (also called Panjabi). Men also wear the Pathani suit. The traditional female dress is the sari but women also wear the Punjabi salwar suit.


The salwar is a traditional garment in Afghanistan worn by men as the Khet partug outfit. The Khet is the tunic, similar to a robe and the partoog is the Afghanistan salwar, with multiple pleats. The male dress also includes the perahan tunban. The Pathani suit [49] has become popular since the 1990s.[50][51] The female Punjabi suit is also popular in Afghanistan which is called the Panjabi.[52][53]

See also


  1. ^ The Tribune Pran Nevile 27 May 2000
  2. ^ Lois May Burger (1963) A Study of Change in Dress as Related to Social and Political Conditions in an Area of North India [1]
  3. ^ Textiles, Costumes, and Ornaments of the Western Himalaya by Omacanda Hāṇḍā [2]
  4. ^ Basic facts about Pakistan, Issue 5 (1950)
  5. ^ Nelson,Lise . Seager,Joni (2008)  A Companion to Feminist Geography
  6. ^ Qadeer. Mohammad (2006) Pakistan - Social and Cultural Transformations in a Muslim Nation [3]
  7. ^ 1892 Punjab Gazeetter Archived 2014-05-01 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Kumar, Raj (2008) Encyclopaedia of Untouchables Ancient, Medieval and Modern [4]
  9. ^ "HISTORY OF SALWAR KAMEEZ". Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  10. ^ Jirousek, Charlotte. "Islamic Clothing." In Encyclopedia of Islam. New York: Macmillan Pub. 2005.
  11. ^ Annette Lynch, Mitchell D. Strauss (2014) Ethnic Dress in the United States: A Cultural Encyclopedia
  12. ^ Martin, Richard C. (2004) Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World: A-L, Volume 1 [5]
  13. ^ Dr Singh, Daljit (2004) Punjab Socio-Economic Condition (1501-1700 A.D.) [6]
  14. ^ Sidhu Brard, Gurnam Singh (2007) East of Indus: My Memories of Old Punjab [7]
  15. ^ Paintings and Lifestyles of Jammu Region: From 17th to 19th Century A.D Raj Kumar [8]
  16. ^ a b Kumar, Raj (2008) Encyclopaedia of Untouchables Ancient, Medieval and Modern [9]
  17. ^ Said,Hakim Mohammad  (1990) Road to Pakistan. 1. 712 - 1858
  18. ^ Dasti, Humaira Faiz (1998) Multan, a province of the Mughal Empire, 1525-1751 [10]
  19. ^ Yarwood, Doreen (2011) Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Costume
  20. ^ Punjab district gazetteers, Volume 7, Part 1 (1923)
  21. ^ Mohinder Singh Randhawa. (1960) Punjab: Itihas, Kala, Sahit, te Sabiachar aad.Bhasha Vibhag, Punjab, Patiala.
  22. ^ Kehal, Harkesh Singh (2011) Alop ho riha Punjabi virsa Lokgeet Parkashan ISBN 978-93-5017-532-3
  23. ^ Current Opinion, Volume 25 (1899)
  24. ^ Extracts from the District & States Gazetteers of the Punjab, Pakistan, Volume 2 (1976) [11]
  25. ^ The Pakistan gazetteer, Volume 5 (2000)
  26. ^ Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 138 (1961) [12]
  27. ^ a b [13] The Salwar Revolution Article
  28. ^ a b Alop Ho Reha Punjabi Virsa Harkesh Singh Kehal
  29. ^ The Hindu: article RAMACHANDRA GUHA
  30. ^ Bhushan, Jamila Brij  (1958) The Costumes and Textiles of India
  31. ^
  32. ^ Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North East Volume 1 Ibbeston, Maclagan
  33. ^ Publication, Issue 111 1965
  34. ^ Khan, Niaz Mohammad (1963) An economic survey of Abbaspur (Chak no. 2/10-L): a village in the Montgomery District [14]
  35. ^ Malik, Iftikhar Haider (2006) Culture and Customs of Pakistan
  36. ^ Punjab District and State Gazetteers: Part A (1911)
  37. ^ Land revenue settlement reports 1876
  38. ^ Aryan, K.C (1983) The Cultural Heritage of Punjab, 3000 B.C. to 1947 A.D. [15]
  39. ^ Jirousek, Charlotte. “Islamic Clothing.” In Encyclopedia of Islam. New York: Macmillan Pub. (2004)[16]
  40. ^ Flood, Finbarr Barry (2009) Objects of Translation: Material Culture and Medieval "Hindu-Muslim" Encounter [17]
  41. ^ Textiles, Costumes and Ornaments of the Western Himalayas O Handa
  42. ^ Paintings and lifestyles of Jammu Region: 17th to 19th Century A.D Raj Kumar
  43. ^ Cultural Heritage of India- Kashmiri Pandit Contribution. The Publication of Kashmir Sabha, Calcutta (1999-2000) [18]
  44. ^ Asoke Kumar Bhattacharyya, Pradip Kumar Sengupta Foundations of Indian Musicology: Perspectives in the Philosophy of Art and Culture (1991) [19]
  45. ^ Dhar, Somnath  (1986) Jammu and Kashmir folklore
  46. ^ Subba, J.R (2008) History, Culture and Customs of Sikkim
  47. ^ I am a Sindhi: The Glorious Sindhi Heritage and Culture and Folklore of Sindh J P Vaswami
  48. ^ Sindh and The Races That Inhabit the Valley of the Indus Richard F Burton
  49. ^ "Celebrating Indianness". Mar 27, 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  50. ^ "Perahan Tunban 'Mens clothes'". Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  51. ^ Culture and Customs of Afghanistan  By Hafizullah Emadi 
  52. ^ Afghanistan clothing
  53. ^ Pia Karlsson, Amir Mansory (2007) An Afghan dilemma: education, gender and globalisation in an Islamic context [20]
This page was last edited on 21 July 2021, at 11:06
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