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DRESSES AND OPRNAMENTS OF THE BODO WOMEN: A SOCIOLOGICAL STUDY
Dr. Nirjay Kumar Brahma
Dresses and ornaments of the Bodos are the symbol of their traditional art and culture. Most of the tribes belonging to the Mongolian races in the North Eastern Region of India deserve the same character of dresses and ornaments. Their arts of such dresses and ornaments are the intrinsic reflections of the nature within which they are shaped and moulded. At present the dresses and ornaments of the Bodos, do not differ from their Hindu neighbours. Since ancient time, the indigenous people like Bodos were accustomed with the production of clothes from the tread of Eri and Muga. The Eri cloth is of dub colour and is durable. It is light but worm, in ordinary cold season, wrap of the Assamese ( Refering to the people of ancient Assam including all tribes ) is generally made of this cloth. Bodo women are expert in rearing the “ Endi Emphou ” ( Eri worm ) and “ Muga latha ” ( Muga worm ) and find out treads from them. They weave different kind of clothes like “ Dokhna “ ( Women’s dress for covering the whole body ), “ Jumgra “ ( Chadar or orna or scarf of woman ) , Gamosha ( Clothe for covering the lower part of the body by man and sometimes used in bath ) , “ Phali “ or “ Rumal ” ( Handkerchief ), “ Shima “ ( Big and wide cloth used as rugs during the winter season ) etc. out of the treads of Eri and Muga. Traditionally Bodo manfollk used to wears female garment called “ Gamsha “ ( Gamosha in Assamese ) to cover the body from waist down to the knee. Previously Bodo old man used to wear wooden footwear known as “ Khorom “ ( Karam in Assamese ). There was no use of shirt in the past days. They only used a type of cloth known as “Jumgra “made of Eri trade and a small cloth on the shoulder during the winter and summer season respectively. But now-a-days they put on modern dresses available in the market.
The dresses of Bodo women are a distinguishable feature of Bodo culture. A man can identify a Bodo womanfolk seeing the dresses of her. Bodo woman wears her “Dokhna “covering the body from the chest down to the ankle. Its length and breadth is made in such a way that it can be tied one round at a time in the waist. Dokhna or Dokhona is made of varied colours and “Agor” or ( Phul in Assamese) . The Dokhna without Agor or Phul is called “ Salamatha “ or “ Matha ”. “ Dokhona Thaosi “(Pure Dokhona) is generally meant for use of bride, Boirathi (Woman receptionist of bride and bridegroom in Bodo marriage) and “Doudini “ ( A dancing woman in Kherai puja ) or during the festivals or other ceremonies.
Now-a-days Bodo woman wears blouse in her body and covers it with “Jumgra “(Scarf). The Jumgra covers the upper portion of the body. Bodo women wears various colours of scarf with full of Agor to beautify themselves. Seeing this beautiful art of the Bodo women Lady Hydery (Wife of the first Governor of Assam) made this comment, “I have travelled throughout the world with my husband but I have not seen that a mother has spun and woven the cloth for herself and for her children.”
A species of various types of Agor ( Phul ) which bloom in the art of Bodo Women are given below :-
1. Phareo Megon (Pigeon eye).
2. Daorai Mokhreb (Winkle of peacock).
3. Phul Mobla (Varieties of bloomed flowers).
4. Daosha Mokhreb (Winkle of chicken).
5. Maoji Agan (Footprint of cat).
6. Dingkhia Mohor (A design representing fern of Dhekia ).
7. Gangu Godo (An Agor representing the shape of a kind insect called Gangu ).
8. Singri Bibar (A design representing the Singri flower).
9. Boigri Bibar (A design representing the flowers of plum).
10. Gongar thaiship (A design representing the fruit of Nui tree).
11. Thaigir Bibar (A design representing the flower of Thaigir plant and it also feeling of failed love.
12. Gandoula agor (A design representing an insect Gandoula ).
13. Khusli Denta (A design representing the spoon).
14. Muphur Apha (A design representing the footprint of bear).
15. Laosong Agor (A design invented by a Bodo girl called Laosong).
16. Mokhordoma Agor (A design representing a litigation or zig zag).
17. Bandhuram Agor (A design first crafted by Bandhuram kachari ).
18. Agor Gidit (A design representing a Diamond shape).
19. Gorkha Gongbrai Agor design representing twill).
20. Daokhi Agor (A design representing stool of a hen).
The favourite colours of the Bodos are generally Gamo (Yellow), Gothang (Green), and Bathogang (Colour of parrot’s feathers). So Bodos’ most popularly used words “Gomo-Gothang-Bathogang” represents it. M.M. Chaudhury agrees with it (Tribes of Assam Plains).
It is welknown fact that the Indo-Mongoloid Bodos used abundance of gold ornaments available in those days. Gradually silver, bronze etc. became popular among them. There were about ten streams which produced gold more or less abundant in the district if Darrang. British people extracted gold from those rivers when they ruled India.
Bodo used varied types of ornaments of the nose, ears, neck and hands.
They wore or still wear “ Phulkhuri “, “ Japkhring “, “ Dul “, “Boula” ( For upper ear ), “ Phuti ” ( A design of flower attached to earlobe ) in ear.
The ornaments of the nose are “ Nakhaphul ” ( A hole is made on the skin of upper side of the nose for holding the Nakhaphul ), Nolot ( Holding from the middle of two nostrils ), Buluki ( Nose pendent ) etc.
Bodo woman wears ornaments in the neck also. The popular ornaments are :-
1. Chandra Har ( A heavy neckless ).
2. Bisa Har ( A neckless ).
3. Thanka Siri ( A roundneck ornament ).
4. Jibou Zinziri ( A snake like chain ).
The popular ornaments of the hands are “ Ashan ” or bangle both big or small. Small bangle is called “ Ashan Suri ” and big bangle is called “ Ashan Shangkha ”. The dresses and ornaments of the Bodo men and women have changed radically except Dokhna and Chadar or Orna of women. All Bodo women still put on Dokhna and Jumgra or Orna to symbolize their culture. Their ornaments of ear, nose, neck, hair style are now modified like modern design of this time. Now-a-days they do not want to stick to old styles and fashions. They have used various types of treads or yarns for Dokhna suited for their use. Sometimes Bodo women are also found wearing other Indian dresses like Sarees, Churidars etc. especially in town.
Notes and References:-
1. A Cultural History of Assam, by B.K. Baruah Page- 141
2. Rupeshri Raithai Khontai, Edited by Madaram, Brahma, Page- 166
3. Report on the province of Assam by A. J. Maffat Mill, Page- 407
4. Tribes of Assam Plains by M.M Choudhury, Page-20