Purushu's award winning fashion blog was founded in 2009 while studying fashion design at NIFT New Delhi. At the age of 19, he wrote show reviews for FDCI's Designer Node dailies at India Fashion Week, New Delhi. Following a stint as menswear designer at Future Group (Lee Cooper), Mumbai in 2013, he relocated to Chennai where he continued freelancing and authored fashion columns for The Hindu newspaper. In 2017, Purush Arie blog evolved into India's first ungendered fashion label. Purushu spoke about gender neutral revolution through fashion at TEDxChennai in March 2018.

Gender Neutrality of Traditional Thamizh Clothing

Did you know that Thamizh men and women dressed alike than different for most part of the clothing history? In association with Vitamin Stree, I illustrated three examples of gender fluid costume culture that was prevalent in ancient and medieval Thamizhagam. Read up for insights into the gender neutral history of traditional Thamizh clothing.


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The oldest surviving Thamizh texts composed almost 2500 years ago feature several women poets. Socio-cultural pursuits weren’t just limited to men. Much like the social roles, the costumes of Thamizh men and women didn’t vary much even up to late medieval period. Sandal wood paste was among the earliest cosmetic used by every sex in ancient Thamizh society. Men and women would also decorate their hair with flowers and use natural fragrance. Stretched earlobe piercing was a major gender neutral fashion trend especially in the kingdoms of Cholas and Pandyas. Pearl necklaces were another hot fashion trend for several centuries, worn by Thamizh people regardless of gender identities.



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In traditional Thamizh clothing, the norms of nudity itself didn’t vary between sexes. While elite women started covering their upper body with sari-drape in Northern India by late ancient period, it was an acceptable norm to leave the upper-body uncovered regardless of sex even up till the early modern history of Thamizh Nadu. Men and women dressed alike and they shared a mutual love for jewellery. Although jewellery was largely worn by every sex throughout the history of Indian subcontinent, anklets were a unique gender neutral trend in Thamizh Nadu. From the Mauryan sculptures of Sanchi and Barhut to the Satvahana arts of Amaravati and Ajanta, it is only women who are decked with anklets. However Thamizh arts depict even men wearing leg ornaments.



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Gender-neutral clothing wasn’t just a norm for royals in Thamizh history but applied even to the oppressed caste sections. Even up till the late medieval era, people covered themselves in modest animal skins, leaves, and jewellery made of sea shells and clay – however, nothing was exclusively “menswear” or “womenswear”. Men and women shared similar clothing norms and worked together in paddy fields and other social spheres.


Links à la Mode, November 8th, 2018

With the temperature rapidly cooling down, who’s finding themselves more prone to pressing “snooze” on their alarm clock morning after morning? Same! We can relate, which is why we are thankful for this week’s posts focusing on productivity, good habits and of course, good fashion. Take a look!


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  • 3te 3 tarih başvuru
    November 12, 2018

    thanks for the post

  • priyanka
    December 10, 2018

    Very informative post.
    Thanks for sharing this post with us.

    Have a great day.

  • Nina
    April 8, 2019

    Great post. Loved your work.

  • James
    August 26, 2019

    Thamizh people really seem interesting to me.. their clothes look gender neutral and you have done a great job depicting how they dressed in those Instagram pictures.

  • Abir kanjilal
    September 11, 2019

    Very nicely written. Thamizh people are quite an eye-opener for us.

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