Traditional Dress of Karnataka, Karnataka Traditional Dress

by Surojit Palmal
Traditional Dress of Karnataka

As rich as the culture of the state of Karnataka is, it is very well depicted through the traditional dress of Karnataka. Yes! That’s right. To understand a state and its culture, the traditional dress of that state plays a big role. Furthermore the state of Karnataka holds their culture really close. And maybe that’s why they love their traditional dresses a little too much. However with time and modernity the style of dresses has mingled and evolved. But nothing can beat the beauty of traditional dress of Karnataka men-women

The Karnataka traditional dress reflects the simplicity, elegance and richness of their culture. So if you are interested to know more about it, then keep on reading. In this article I will share what is the traditional dress of Karnataka. So keep on reading because this is going to be a helpful read for you in understanding more about Karnataka.

Traditional Dress of Karnataka


Basically dhoti is known as panche in Karnataka. And like any other states Panche is a popular traditional dress of Karnataka. This is basically a sarong or a piece of cloth. Mostly popular in white colour the panche is a bottom wear. It is tied around the waist and passes in between the legs. However it gives a look and feel of a trousers but only loose fitted. Furthermore it is paired with a kurta, shirt or angavastram. During any cultural occasion or wedding you will find the men in Karnataka wearing this. It is undoubtedly one of the most widely used traditional dresses for men.

Mysore Peta

Mysore Peta

Did you just wonder why the name of a food item is mentioned in the list of traditional dresses? Then don’t worry because this is indeed a traditional dress of Karnataka. Not exactly a dress, Mysore peta is basically a normal turban. Also called Mysuru peta, this is something worn by the kings of Mysore during ancient times. Mysore Peta is like a sign of honour for the people living here. Made of a long strip of cotton or silk cloth this turban is decorated with silver or golden lace. At times even ornamentation is also done on it using metal pendants.

Furthermore at present this is more like a fashion statement. A lot of people do wear this during occasions and ceremonies. In the Karnataka Universities the students are encouraged to wear Mysore Peta during their convocation. Whenever you visit Karnataka make sure you are surely checking out this traditional dress of Karnataka.

Kanchipuram Saree

Kanchipuram Saree

Even though the Kanchipuram saree is originally from Tamil Nadu it is a popular traditional dress of Karnataka. These are one of the most elegant sarees worn in Karnataka. What makes it more special is the weaving of these sarees. Pure mulberry silk and zari are used in the making of these sarees and that is why they are quite expensive. For an original Kanchipuram saree the body of the saree and the border both are woven differently. Later these two are interlocked. Furthermore the interlocking is done in such a way that even if the body tears up after many years the border won’t detach.

The beautiful intricate work and the vibrant colours makes it a first choice for many women in Karnataka. However not just in Karnataka this style of sarees are also very popular in other states as well. Because of the minute detailing and finest of art, these sarees are worn during occasions. You can see women in Karnataka flaunting these saress during occasions and events. If you do not have a Kanchipuram saree in your collection then this is calling to have one. You certainly cannot miss out on experiencing the luxury of this beautiful saree.

Kodagu Saree

This is not about the material or fabric of the saree. However this traditional dress of Karnataka is about how this saree is draped. The uniqueness of this saree lies in the fact that it is worn uniquely by women. Here the saree is taken and the pleats are done on the back of the pallu and then tied together. Then the pallu is taken and attached to the shoulder. It almost looks like a gown or a dress after draping this. Usually made of silk, these are expensive sarees. Initially there was a particular colour set for Kodagu sarees. Furthermore red was the chosen shade as red depicts happiness. Presently different colours are available for these sarees.


Ilkal Saree

Ilkal Saree
Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

Traditionally these sarees originated from the Ilkal town of the Bagalkot district in Karnataka. These sarees have a mixed weave. The whole saree is woven in cotton whereas the border and pallu is woven in silk. Ilkal town was once a prime location for the weaving of these sarees back in the 8th century. From that time this saree has been a popular traditional dress of Karnataka. Even today, more than 20, 000 people in the town of Ilkal are involved in the production of these sarees.

Furthermore the most intricate and attractive portion of this saree is the pallu. The pallu of these sarees are done beautifully. It has heavy work and embroidery done on it that looks exquisite. Women who go to the temples in Karnataka prefer wearing this saree there. Also for a variety of religious occasions and cultural events you can spot this traditional saree of Karnataka.

Kasuti Embroidery

This is a type of embroidery that is popular in Karnataka. Basically it is a traditional embroidery which involves 5000 hand stitches for intricate work. On sarees like Ilkal this work is done. However even Kasuti embroidery dresses are popular in Karnataka. Furthermore for this embroidery a Geographical Indication is also given. Previously the women courtiers in Mysore were taught 64 forms of arts and kasuti was one of them. This design is inspired by the patterns of rangoli. Patterns like chariot, gopura, lamps, palanquin etc are quite popular.

Furthermore this labour intensive work of art is done using bright colourful threads. It requires a lot of precision to do this type of embroidery. Both cotton as well as silk materials are used to do this ornate patterned embroidery. As elegant as these looks, this embroidery is a big part of the culture of Karnataka. The Government of Karnataka as well as the people there promotes this type of embroidery to a lot of extent. They take a lot of pride in their artistry and finest craftsmanship. When you visit Karnataka you must check out the kasuti embroidered dresses and sarees for yourself. Otherwise you will miss out on a large chunk of the traditional dress of Karnataka.


Mysore Silk Sarees

Made using pure mulberry silk Karnataka is known for their Mysore silk sarees. And this saree doesn’t need an introduction for saree lovers anyway. The popularity and elegance of this beautiful traditional dress of Karnataka is not limited to Karnataka. In fact people from other states also love the Mysore silk sarees. Total 45% of the mulberry silk produced in Karnataka are used in the production of the Mysore silk sarees. The amount is almost near about 20, 000 metric tons.

Furthermore the origin of these sarees goes back a long way. During the reign of Tipu Sultan the silk industry in Mysore started flourishing. Also known as the mulberry silk saree, this saree has a Geographical Indication as well. The intricate work and weaving of these sarees makes it even more exquisite. The zari of these sarees has 65% of pure silver. Also it contains 0.65 % of gold as well that makes it one of the most expensive sarees. However there are fake Mysore silk sarees being sold at the market too in the name of authenticity. And to stop that Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation Limited (KSIC) makes sure there is a hologram and identification mark on each genuine Mysore silk saree. So even when you are buying an original one make sure you check the barcode. This beautiful traditional dress of Karnataka can be your treasured possession too.

Wrapping Up!

As rich as the culture of Karnataka is you can understand that from their style of dressing as well. Some of the sarees produced here are also one of the most expensive varieties. A lot can be known about the tradition, history and culture of the state from the traditional dress of Karnataka. Furthermore it also tells about the lifestyle and occupation of the people there. Being one of the highest producers of mulberry silk, majority of some villages are involved in weaving of sarees and dress. No wonder they are so elegant and the intricate work is majestic.

So next time when you visit Karnataka make sure you explore the Karnataka traditional dress. They have some of the most elegant dresses as their traditional dresses which are loved nationwide. So tell me, have you tried any of the traditional dress of Karnataka men-women? Or are you intrigued enough to try any of these? Also let me know if this article is helpful for you in knowing about the traditional dress of Karnataka.

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