Newsletter 35 - June-August 2004


1. news
2. new web links
3. reply for help (1): langotti and kowpeenam or konakam
4. reply for help (2): langotti and kowpeenam or konakam
5. reply for help: sampot
6. reply to the reply: sampot
7. fishtail sari: a question of gender
8: a personal note from Chantal

1. NEWS:

*** IMPORTANT: Due to the insane quantity of SPAM that we receive, I have set up strict email filters. So, if your want your email to reach IDC or Chantal, please put the word “IDC” in the Subject line (otherwise your email might be considered SPAM and be discarded).

*** If you know or participate in an event, web site, etc. connected with draping, please let us know. This “news” feature is yours!


Thank to all of you who contributed to a new web links.

Technique for some sari wrapped pants:
With photos showing how-to.

Drape your baby around yourself! Check this web site with fascinating (and traditional) ways to carry a baby with draped clothes:
Maybe this is a whole new area for IDC: infant-carrier drapes!

This is a web site that sells beautiful, sheer veils, mostly for belly dancing, although they could be used in many different ways.

A great site about African drapes (head wraps and sarongs), also selling books on how to drape:

Links about turbans:

Shows how to wrap three different styles.
(will fit all occasions...)

How to tie a Sikh turban... on a woman. Detailed photographic explanations.
Very detailed still photos, in sequence, AND three versions of a video!

About European turbans from the 15th century. Very interesting page exploring a theme we tend to forget about (well, not at IDC!).

Web site detailing several techniques of women’s headdresses (Western, international):


We received a wonderfully informative reply by Dr. Otto Steinmayer:

A kaupîna is a simple strip of cloth passed between the legs and held by a string at the waist. The word is derived from kûpa "genitals".

From Sanskrit literature we can tell that for a man to have nothing to wear but a sole kaupîna marked the extreme state of poverty. See the story of Nala in the Mahâbharata, and Dandin's Dasakumaracarita. The kaupîna still is the sole garment of an ascetic, who chooses poverty voluntarily. Thus, wearing nothing but a kaupîna is not at all in itself shameful, and indeed, the kaupîna and nakedness is strongly associated with holiness---and with sexual potency, which asceticism increases. The only thing S´iva wears is a kaupîna

There is plenty of other kaupîna lore, which I'll omit here.

Up to the recent present Indian men, particularly in the south, used to wear only a kaupîna for messy or wet work (photos of men plowing fields, bathing elephants, dhobis doing laundry, etc.). Whether men still do I don't know. The basic breechcloth is called by different names in the various languages.

Classical Sanskrit literature speaks of ascetics making clothing of bark-cloth. Most people I'm sure used cotton.

The word langoti (its equivalent in modern Indian languages) seems to have replaced kaupîna as a general term for a breechcloth. In ancient times, though, the langoti was a different thing from a kaupîna. The word langoti is derived from the Sanskrit root langh- "leap." This is an athlete's loincloth. In New York's Metropolitan Museum of art is an ancient exercise-weight of stone, carved with a relief of Krsna fighting the Demon Horse. Krsna is wearing a langoti, and from this carving we can tell that this was a loincloth identical to the modern Japanese rokushaku fundoshi, that is, a long narrow strip of cotton whose loose ends are secured in back, so there is no front apron.

The modern day athlete's langoti, so far as I've seen in photos, is sewn together out of a strip and a triangular piece to cover the buttocks, and ties with tapes.


“Your newsletter regarding "Langota" is really exciting. I am an Indian, used to wear this "Langota" (Kaupeenam / Konakam) from my childhood and still wearing with proud as an Indian. I can send you more details & photos about "Langota", if you need.

Note: Photos would be greatly appreciated... send them to: <> . Please put the word “IDC” in the subject line.


Hey there,

I saw the post and was totally intrigued, so I did some Internet digging. I didn't know a thing about sampots before this, but here's what I found:

Has a set of pictures midway down, one is a "Sampot Chang Kben" described as "skirt rolled in front and pulled up to waistband in back". Which sort of makes me think it starts with sewn skirt and then drapes it by ducking it into the waistband in the back.

And, sadly, that's all I can manage to dig up. From the pictures, it's really hard hard to tell - it looks like some of the time women are wearing straight skirts and men are wearing tight pants. And then in others it looks like either sex may be wearing something like the sampot shown in the page I mentioned.


From Christine to Beth:

Thanks for you answer.
I looked at the site you mention and there is one woman wearing a green sampot, but she is seen from the side and it is hard to see exactly what is going on.

From what I saw when I was in Cambodia, "rolled and tucked" is what is looks like, the part is between the legs looked twisted together before it is passed between the legs and then tucked in the waistband. It is somehow tucked at the waist in front too. I saw many dancers wearing them, so it stays that way very well and does not come apart. I even saw kids wearing them, so I guess it is not difficult to drape, just takes the "know-how" and a little dexterity!

Thanks for looking into this,

From Ned:
“Just saw the instructions for the Kaccha pants-style drape and the reference to Beth's site for the fishtail. Are either or both appropriate wrap styles for men?”

Reply from Chantal: the fishtail sari is not a kaccha sari, but a form of dhoti. So it can be worn by both men and women, although women wore a more elaborate “fishtail” (the part that falls in front of the legs) than men. But men, especially in 17th century high-society in South India, did wear elaborate “fishtails”, albeit a bit shorter than those of the women.


It is that time of the year when I feel like wearing sari everyday: The temperature in my office reminds me of India (it’s under the roof and becomes really hot)...
There is “circumstantial evidence” that saris are becoming more popular. I have been contacted by several Western women who wanted to wear saris at weddings (and indeed I would like to make something about that...).
Draping techniques are also becoming more and more popular with people doing “creative anachronism” (some of you faithful IDC members!). I think that for a long time ancient drapes have been taken for granted, when in fact we know very little about them. So I am very happy to hear that interest in real draping techniques is growing among those who re-create ancient costumes. Let’s hope that this will one day reach Hollywood (could have helped Helen of Troy look authentic in the latest movie).
And what about Greece! Did anyone see the absolutely awful costumes that “priestesses” are using at the Athens Olympics: 100% stitched, totally fake-looking! Please ! Someone tell the Greeks about the beauty of their ancient drapes...

IMPORTANT. Please remember: Due to the insane quantity of SPAM that I receive, I have set up strict email filters. So, if your want your email to reach me, please put the word “IDC” in the Subject line (otherwise your email might be considered SPAM and be discarded).

Best wishes!

Please do not hesitate to send any question, suggestion, criticism.
If you have some links to suggest, please let us know!
If you wish to write something for the newsletter, please do so and Email it to <>.
IMPORTANT: put the word “IDC” in the Subject line (otherwise your email might be considered SPAM).

Newsletter publication dates and deadlines for contributions:
- 1st of June (June-August): deadline for contributions: 15th of May
- 1st of September (September-November): deadline for contributions: 15th of August
- 1st of December (December-February): deadline for contributions: 15th of November
- 1st of March (March-May): deadline for contributions: 15th of February

Institute of Draped Clothes
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