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First Online: November 10, 1999
Page Last Updated: October 31, 2016

Turns out that Wonder-bra is not a fashion of the twentieth century alone! In this historically authentic pictures and references, Dr. (Mrs.) Jyotsna Kamat discusses the blouses and brassieres of ancient India. 
Line drawings by K. L. Kamat.
-- Ed.

Although majority of female figures in ancient Indian sculptures are devoid of a blouse, there are several instances of ancient Indian women wearing brassieres. The first historical reference to brassieres in India is found during the rule of king Harshavardhana (1st century) in Kashmir. The half-sleeved tight bodice or kanchuka figures prominently in the literature of the period. From Basavapurana (1237 A.D.), we learn that kanchukas were worn by young girls as well. The Somanathacharita speaks of an aged harlot who used a special blouse to hold up her drooping breasts. Poet Harihara refers to wearing of tight white clothes (bigidudisi) before throwing of a shawl embroidered with gold, over the shoulders. Sewn brassieres and blouses were very much in vogue during the Vijayanagar empire and the cities brimmed with tailors (chippiga) who specialized in tight fitting of garments.

Tailored Brassiere
Tailored brassieres were popular during the Vijayanagar period, 14th century

The Leelavati Prabhanda mentions a kind of brassier prevalent in 10th century. While no pictures or detailed descriptions of it are found, a sculpture of the time has just a narrow strip to cover the nipples.

bra59.gif (2340 bytes)
Medieval padded brassier

In a medieval sculpture from Karnataka, a brassier is sculpted around a deity (shown below) that appears to have been made up of thick cotton. Regularly sewn brassieres of cup-like shape are also found; some others appear to be propped up by ornaments.

Wonderful Bra!
Ornamental Brassier
Line drawing based on a temple sculpture. 
The necklace is disguised as the support to hold up the cups

More  Pictures:




Icon of a Devi (Goddess)
Ancient Brassieres
Ancient Brassieres
Women in Undergarments

Woman Doorkeeper from a Goan Temple
Ancinet Brassieres
Ancient Undergarments
Brassiere from a Medieval Sculpture

Beauty Puts on a Brassiere (?)
Ancient Brassieres


 

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