Outfit of a Warrior Culture – The New Indian Express

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Express press service

MADIKERI: Rituals and culture tell the story and ancestral beliefs of a community. Traditional clothing binds a community together and signifies its identity, while promoting its culture. One of them is the Kodava community, nestled in the picturesque neighborhood of Kodagu, and boasts of a unique culture and even more unique attire.

Anyone who has attended a Kodava wedding will be familiar with the traditional dress worn by Kodava men. A knee-length black mid-length wrap coat, a silk sash around the waist and a head covering make up the outfit, known as ‘Kuppya Chele’.

“In the Kodava language, ‘Kuip’ translates to heat, and ‘ya’ means absent. In simple terms, the garment that protects against heat is the ‘Kuppya’,” analyzed Bacharaniyanda Appanna, a historian from Kodava. To hold the “Kuppya” in place, a fabric belt called a “chele” is used. The ‘Kuppya Chele’ is accessorized with traditional weapons.

A newlywed wears the Kodava
saree embellished with ‘pathak’

The Kodavas are an indigenous Dravidian race who settled amidst the thick forests of the ‘Malayadri Sahyadri’ range and speak the original Dravidian language of Kodava. The ancestors wore ‘Kuppya’ made of native plant fibers called ‘Bolakka Balli’.

“When clothes started arriving from Kerala through the barter system, the ‘Kuppya’ or knee-length coat was sewn of white cloth. However, when the British arrived in Kodagu in 1834, the priests of the Church had problems with this dress. As the white ‘kuppya’ resembled the habit of Christian priests, the British passed the order to change the color of the Kodava outfit,” Apanna explained.

The ancients are said to have expressed their resentment against the British for interfering in their culture. However, a mutual understanding was reached. “During this break, serge cloth came from England to India. Black serge was imported in large quantities and became more practical as it rarely appeared dirty. The ‘kuppya’ was soon sewn in black serge, but to ensure the survival of the ancestral culture, the white ‘kuppya’ is obligatory on special occasions.The husband, the head of the temple or the priest, the head of the village or ‘thakka mukyasta’ are required to wear a ‘kuppya’ Even a corpse is dressed in a white ‘kuppya’,” Appanna explained.

The ‘chele’ has also seen a touch of modernization and the 25-foot-long all-purpose fabric has been replaced with a brightly colored silk fabric. “In times of war, the ‘chele’ was used to bind enemies and for other purposes,” Appanna said.

The comfort saree
The women of the community also wear unique clothes, and a mythological story is intertwined with them. Kodava women wear a saree which is pleated at the back and the ‘pallu’ or free end is wrapped around the front. “According to mythology, the seer Agasthya and Cauvery had a breakup, and Cauvery quietly left Talacauvery. She reported after ten days at Bhagamandala, then left for Balamuri, where the villagers stopped her and asked her to stay. However, it flowed with great force, causing the sarees worn by women to roll back. She then calmed down and promised to show up every year at the Cauvery Sankramana celebrations,” Appanna recounted.

This saree also has scientific symbolism. Since Kodava women were involved in agricultural activities, back pleated sarees were more comfortable and women could even climb trees easily. These saris are of great importance to the community and are associated with a head covering called ‘vasthra’. “Kodava men and women wear the headscarf. Our ancestors believed that the sun’s rays should never fall behind the neck and they covered it with ‘vasthra’. However, the headgear has been modernized to fit current trends and features intricate artwork, especially those worn by women,” he explained.

Traditional jewelry
The traditional knife called “peecha katthi”, which was used in self-defense in ancestral times, is part of men’s attire and symbolizes the tribal and warrior culture of the community. The ‘peecha kathi’ or dagger, and ‘odi kathi’ or traditional sword, are accessories for men, while a variety of traditional jewelry add a touch of cultural flavor to women’s sarees.

“’Peecha kathi’ was attached to the attire using the ‘chele’. Previously, these daggers had wooden handles. Now they are sculpted in silver and gold and shine brightly on traditional attire,” Appanna said.
Women have seven types of jewelry. “At Talacauvery, the seven seers or ‘sapta rishis’ were meditating. One could also find seven ponds in the center, which are now covered. As a sign of the seers’ blessing, the Kodava tradition mentions seven types of ornaments from head to toe. However, only a few jewels have stood the test of time,” he explained.

Among jewelry, “Pathak” holds great significance for married women. “When a girl visits her husband, her parents pack ten essentials – mostly traditional brass items – to send with her. These items are given to help her lead an independent life in her husband’s house and should not be taken back to the girl unless the couple is separated. To protect these items, a piece of jewelry made up of the incarnation of the god ‘Naga’ (serpent) is attached by the bride’s mother during the wedding ceremony, called the ‘Pathak’,” Appanna explained. This jewelry has symbolic meaning and resembles a ‘mangal sutra’, while other traditional jewelry includes ‘joe maale’ and ‘kokke thaati’.

Primarily nature worshipers, the culture, traditions and rituals of the Kodavas are unique and tribal in nature. While the size of the community has shrunk in the past, measures are now in place to revive the rich culture of the community.

MADIKERI: Rituals and culture tell the story and ancestral beliefs of a community. Traditional clothing binds a community together and signifies its identity, while promoting its culture. One of them is the Kodava community, nestled in the picturesque neighborhood of Kodagu, and boasts of a unique culture and even more unique attire. Anyone who has attended a Kodava wedding will be familiar with the traditional dress worn by Kodava men. A knee-length black mid-length wrap coat, a silk sash around the waist and a head covering make up the outfit, known as ‘Kuppya Chele’. “In the Kodava language, ‘Kuip’ translates to heat, and ‘ya’ means absent. In simple terms, the garment that protects against heat is the ‘Kuppya’,” analyzed Bacharaniyanda Appanna, a historian from Kodava. To hold the “Kuppya” in place, a fabric belt called a “chele” is used. The ‘Kuppya Chele’ is accessorized with traditional weapons. A newlywed wears the Kodava sari adorned with “pathak”. The ancestors wore ‘Kuppya’ made of native plant fibers called ‘Bolakka Balli’. “When clothes started arriving from Kerala through the barter system, the ‘Kuppya’ or knee-length coat was sewn of white cloth. However, when the British arrived in Kodagu in 1834, the priests of the Church had problems with this dress. As the white ‘kuppya’ resembled the habit of Christian priests, the British passed the order to change the color of the Kodava outfit,” Apanna explained. The ancients are said to have expressed their resentment against the British for interfering in their culture. However, a mutual understanding was reached. “During this break, serge cloth came from England to India. Black serge was imported in large quantities and became more practical as it rarely appeared dirty. The ‘kuppya’ was soon sewn in black serge, but to ensure the survival of the ancestral culture, the white ‘kuppya’ is obligatory on special occasions.The husband, the head of the temple or the priest, the head of the village or ‘thakka mukyasta’ are required to wear a ‘kuppya’ white. Even a corpse is dressed in a white ‘kuppya’,” Appanna explained. bright colors.”In times of war, the ‘chele’ was used to tie up enemies and for other purposes,” Appanna said. Kodava women wear a saree which is pleated at the back and the ‘pallu’ or loose end is wrapped around the front. “According to mythology, the seer Agasthya and Cauvery had a breakup, and Cauvery quietly left Talacauvery. She reported after ten days at Bhagamandala, then left for Balamuri, where the villagers stopped her and asked her to stay. However, it flowed with great force, causing the sarees worn by women to roll back. She then calmed down and promised to show up every year at the Cauvery Sankramana celebrations,” Appanna recounted. This saree also has scientific symbolism. Since Kodava women were involved in agricultural activities, back pleated sarees were more comfortable and women could even climb trees easily. These saris are of great importance to the community and are associated with a head covering called ‘vasthra’. “Kodava men and women wear the headscarf. Our ancestors believed that the sun’s rays should never fall behind the neck and they covered it with ‘vasthra’. However, the headgear has been modernized to fit current trends and features intricate artwork, especially those worn by women,” he explained. Traditional jewelry The traditional knife called ‘peecha katthi’, which was used in self-defense during ancestral times, is part of men’s attire and symbolizes the tribal and warrior culture of the community. The ‘peecha kathi’ or dagger, and ‘odi kathi’ or traditional sword, are accessories for men, while a variety of traditional jewelry add a touch of cultural flavor to women’s sarees. “’Peecha kathi’ was attached to the attire using the ‘chele’. Previously, these daggers had wooden handles. Now they are sculpted in silver and gold and shine brightly on traditional attire,” Appanna said. Women have seven types of jewelry. “At Talacauvery, the seven seers or ‘sapta rishis’ were meditating. One could also find seven ponds in the center, which are now covered. As a sign of the seers’ blessing, the Kodava tradition mentions seven types of ornaments from head to toe. However, only a few jewels have stood the test of time,” he explained. Among jewelry, “Pathak” holds great significance for married women. “When a girl visits her husband, her parents pack ten essentials – mostly traditional brass items – to send with her. These items are given to help her lead an independent life in her husband’s house and should not be taken back to the girl unless the couple is separated. To protect these items, a piece of jewelry consisting of the incarnation of the god ‘Naga’ (serpent) is attached by the bride’s mother during the wedding ceremony, called the ‘Pathak’,” Appanna explained. This jewelry has symbolic meaning and resembles a ‘mangal sutra’, while other traditional jewelry includes ‘joe maale’ and ‘kokke thaati’. Primarily nature worshipers, the culture, traditions and rituals of the Kodavas are unique and tribal in nature. While the size of the community has shrunk in the past, measures are now in place to revive the rich culture of the community.

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