Coiffures In Indian Art From The Collections Of Allahabad Museum
The literary citations to the coiffures known to the Vedic period are copious. The variety of hair styles mentioned in the Vedic literature shows the importance the people of period gave to hair dressing. It has been customary with human being in all ages to arrange their hairs in one way or other. The beautification of the hair is innate in exception. The Vedic literature mentions words like opaśa, kaparda, kumba, kurīra, keśa, śikhanda, śikha, sīman pulasti, stukā, etc. which connote the coiffures.
Opaśa has worn by men consisted in gathering up of the hair with a small top knot leaving it loose enough to form a dome like cover or flounced cap. The hair style looked like a thatched net or covered roofing of the house when worn by women. Kaparda was another way of hair dressing accepted both by men and women. When it was worn by men it was always a spiral coil of the braided plaited, matted hair piled on the top of the head in different angles. It is frequently mentioned as worn by Kapardin gods and their followers. Kurīra could have been a horn shaped coiffure, possible with the long braids of the women. A net or veil might have been hung from their horn. It is interesting to note that such hairstyles still survives in the hair styles of the women living in the tracts between the upper Sutlej & Ganga Kumba is clearly from Khompa, with hemispherical or pot shaped coil at the back of the head. This hair style is evidently feminine. Sīman meaning the parting of the hair occurs in the Atharvaveda and later works. Pulasti in the Yajurveda Samhita, this word is mentioned to mean the hair worn in plain style. Stukā in the Vedic literature probably means the braids of hair. The Vedic people were also in the habbit of using diadems or tiaras for the decoration of the hair and the word used for this is tirīta. Śikhā in the Śatapatha Brāhmana, the term śikhā refers to the knot of the hair worn up on the top of the head. The loose top knot was sign of mourning in the case of both the women and men. Many of the hair style like lambataka, praveni, Keśapāśa (bun) pony, pony-tail, pig tail, curly hair (chūrna kuntala) that appears in sculptures, paintings and also in literature survive even today.
An ‘Exhibition on coiffures in Indian Art’ through the different types of hair styles shown on the sculptures, Terracotta, modern and miniature paintings of Allahabad Museum are an endeavor to throw light on the variety of coiffures popular in Shunga, Kushan, Gupta and Chandela period. The exhibits are found from Ahichchhatra, Kaushambi, Rajghat, Khajuraho. Miniature paintings followed by Modern painting depicts different types of hair style justifying an un-interrupted continuity of such art style in Indian culture.