by Jintu Moni Dutta | 2017 | 58,180 words | ISBN-10: 8120813057 | ISBN-13: 9788120813052
This page relates ‘Dress and Ornaments in the Malatimadhava and 8th-century India’ from the English study on the Malatimadhava of Bhavabhuti:—A Prakarana type of Drama in ten acts revolving around the love-story of Malati (from Padmāvatī) and Madhava (from Vidarbha). This study discusses the history of its author and the literary, social, religious, historical and cultural aspects of the Malatimadhava.
Dresses as well as ornaments play a significant role in addressing the status of people of a particular period. The Mālatīmādhava supplies very little information about the dress and ornaments of the people of 8th century A.D.
During Bhavabhūti’s time dress normally consisted of two garments viz., uttarīya i.e upper garment and nīvī i.e. lower garment. Bhavabhūti has mentioned about the garments in the 4th act of the Mālatīmādhava where Makaranda said that Madayantikā was regardless of the upper garment which had slipped off. Again another reference of upper garment is found in the 6th act where Lavaṅgikā said to Makaranda, who was in Mālatī’s dress, to cover up with the upper garment. Another garment mentioned by Bhavabhūti is lower garment. In the 2nd act it was found that the tie of Mālatī’s nīvī i.e. lower garment was loosened. In this context Jagaddhara opines that nīvī is the knot of knee-clothing. It appears that nīvī was used to tie up the clothes of Knee. In the 6th act it was known from the speech of Mādhava that the bracelets of Mālatī’s friends attached to their waist-bands gave rise to a musical sound of the little bells. It indicates that a waist–band was used round the lower garment.
The Mālatīmādhava shows that the dress of maiden was decorous as in the 1st act Mādhava said that the maidenhood of Mālatī was indicated by the arrangement of her dress. In the 4th act there found that the ladies had their bath on the bank of the stream and their prominent parts were visible owing to the close-fitting wet garments and had placed their hands cross-wise like svastikas on their prominent and full breasts. It appears that the ladies wore close-fitting garments during Bhavabhūti’s time.
The dress of Buddhist mendicants was red robes. In the very beginning of the Mālatīmāhava, the female Buddhist nun Kāmandakī and her pupil Avalokitā were found to have worn red robes.  Sometimes, Buddhist nuns appeared with tattered garments during Bhavabhūti’s time as he has depicted Kāmandakī in a tattered vestments.69 Jagaddhara, in this context remarks that the part of cloth was to be worn by Buddhist parivrājaka. In the 6th act Mālatī’s attendants were found vested with coverings of china silk. Again it was found that Mālatī’s bridal dress included a bodice of dhavalapaṭṭāṃśuka i.e white silk and raktavarṇāśuka [raktavarṇāśukam] i.e red silk garments to serve the purpose of the mantle.72 This indicates that people used abundantly the various sorts of silk clothes during Bhavabhūti’s time. A silk cloth, simple or of a diversified colour seems to have been imported during that time. Thus, people wore various kinds of clothes during Bhavabhūti’s time.
In the Mālatīmādhava, Bhavabhūti has given different types of ornaments used by the people of his time. He has used the terms ābharaṇa, alaṃkāra etc. to denote ornaments. The ladies adorned themselves with ornaments like ear-rings, necklace, anklets, bracelets and garlands of flowers etc. They put on different kinds of ornaments at different parts of their bodies. Bracelets were worn in their hands, necklace were worn at their neck and anklets at their feet and so on. In the 1st act when Mādhava had described about the attendants of Mālatī, he said that when they playfully turned back,the rows of their bracelets were setting into agitation by the loud clapping of their lotus like hands and gave rise to a musical sound by the sweet chiming of the little bells attached to their waist-bands. This sound was mingled with the gentle clank of their anklets that sounded agreeably to the movements of their feet graceful like the sportive gait of impassioned royal swans when frightened.
Bhavabhūti has mentioned that Mālatī had worn the garland of crushed champaka flowers. She had also worn the garland of Bakula flowers where she had disparaged the pearl necklace. It seems that she had set high value over the garland of Bakula flowers than her pearl necklace. Not only ladies had worn garlands but men also used to wear garlands of flower at their neck. In the 7th act it was Mādhava who removed the Bakula garland from his neck and had presented it to Mālatī.75 In the 6th act when numerous courtesans set off at the procession of Mālatī to the temple of city-deity the courtesans were found to have worn various jewel ornaments which resembled the fragment of Indra’s bow in the surface of the sky.76
Having seen these courtesans Makaranda said that the directions were covered all round to their ends with the quivering circles of the rays of gems, having their mass variegated with the throbbing rays of gold. Hence they looked as if mingled with the lustre of the wings of the cāsa birds flying about . During the marriage of Mālatī,sets of ornaments suitable for all parts of the body, a necklace of pearls and a garland of white flowers were presented to her. In another place, when Madayantikā accompanied by Buddharakṣitā went to meet Mālatī, Buddharakṣitā said Madayantikā to come by silencing her jewelled anklets or by drawing them up.
From the foregoing dicscussion it can be inferred that in the contemporary society of Mālatīmādhava, people believed on Hindu religion and performed all the rituals of Hinduism.Worship of and veneration for the multiplicity of deities had persisted during Bhavabhūti’s time.Along with these, various religious festivals have formed a substantial part of the content of religion in the minds of masses.People also showed veneration towards Buddhism. Moreover, many popular beliefs formed a substantial role in the minds of the mass during 8th century A.D. People practised various fine arts during Bhavabhūti’s time. Moreover, architecture and the art of construction were of high standard during his time.
During Bhavabhūti’s time people ate different fruits viz.mango, pomigranate [pomegranate?] and also ate betel.Moreover wine drinking was also in vogue during the period of 8th century A.D. However in this Prakaraṇa, Bhavabhūti has not mentioned about the principal food of common people during his time.People were highly concerned in regard to dress.They substantially used various sorts of silk clothes. Also the ladies decked themselves with various ornaments of gold. Necklace was very famous and commonly used ornament. It was made of pearls and gold. Garland of flowers was common ornaments for both men and women.
Footnotes and references:
jaghanavastravandhanaṃ nīvī /
Jagaddhara on Ibid., II.p.55
atha tāḥ salīlamuttālakarakamalatālikātara lavalayāvalīkamutrasta mattakalahaṃsasa vibhramābhirāmacaraṇasaṃcara ṇajaṇjaṇāyamān amajñumañjīra rasitānu vidhamekhalā kalāpakala kiṃkiṇīraṇatkār amukharaṃ parivṛtya /
mugdhanepathyaviracanā vibhāvitakumārībhāvā mahābhāvaprakṛti /
jalanibiḍitavastravyanaktanimnonnatābhiḥ parigataṭabhūmiḥ snātamātraotthitābhiḥ /
stanavinihita hastasvastikābhi rvadhūbhiḥ /
tataḥ parivṛtya raktapaṭṭikānepathye kāmandakyavalokite praviśataḥ /
Ibid.,I.12 69 cīracīvaraparichadāṃ / Ibid., I.p.13
cīreṇa vastrakhaṇḍena /
cīvaraṃ saugataparivrājakavāsastadeva parichadaḥ parikaro yasyāstām /
Jagaddhara on Ibid., I.p.13
cchāyāsaṃvalitairvivartibhiriva prānteṣu paryāvṛttāḥ /
vyaktākhaṇḍalakārmukā iva bhavantyuccitracīnāṃśuka//
Ibid.,VI.572 etattāvatdhavalapaṭṭāṃśuka colakametaccottarīyaṃ raktavarṇāṃśukam/
athatāḥsalīlamuttālakarakamalatālikātarala valayāvalīka mutrastamala kalahaṃsasaṃvibhramābhirāmacaraṇasaṃcaraṇajaṇ ajaṇāyamānamañjumañjīra/
Ibid., III.p.675 ātmanaḥ kaṇṭhādavatarya bakulamālāṃ dadāti /
Ibid.,VII.p.16676 vividharatnālaṃkārakiraṇāvalīviḍamvitamahendracāpavicheda vichuritanabhaḥsthalairvārasundarīkaadambairadhyāsitā utkvaṇatkanakakiṃkiṇījālajaṇajaṇajaṅkāriṇyaḥ /
vyaktākhaṇḍalakārmukā iva bhavantyuccitracīn
prastārasthagitā ivonmukhamaṇijyotirvitānairdiśaḥ /
ime ca sarvāṅgikā ābharaṇasaṃyogāḥ /
ayaṃ ca mauktihāraḥ candanam cit kusumāpīḍa iti /