20.3.13

Dress and jewelry of the Ranas of Nepal


My today's post will be about dress and jewelry of the Rana dynasty of Nepal. They ruled the Kingdom of Nepal since 1846 till 1951 and during the time the king was just a formal figure and the real power belonged to the Ranas. They made Prime Minister and other government positions hereditary.
The Rana clan was really enourmous, the first Rana Prime Minister Jung Bahadur had 6 brothers, 14 sons and 30 nephews. And I suppose there was no Rana man who would limit himself with just one wife, they all had at least several (Jung Bahadur for example had 13).




All those numerous wives, daughters and sisters had to be dressed and adorned according to their high status. Women's dress was influenced by European fashion at the Rana court. There are many photos of the late 19th century where Rana women wear Victorian silk dresses covered with pearls, sequins and intricate embroidery  Sari also was worn but in a distinctive Nepalese style different from that of Indian fashion: the sari was pleated in the back and the border (paloo) was pinned like a stole.




Jewelry was an essential way to show wealth and success. Each Rana wife and daughter had unique individual tiaras and necklaces designed for them. Tiaras were laden with diamonds and necklaces had nine strands of pearls and gems. Star and moon pins were popular motifs with the Ranas because these were emblems of their ancestral royal houses.



Money was seldom a consideration. Tiaras were usually handcrafted in Calcutta, while necklaces, rings, bracelets and pins were generally purchased in Europe, either on visits abroad or by mail order. Van Cleef, Arpels, Harry Winston and Cartier were their favourite shops.



Rana men prefer to wear a formal military garb with medals and braids. A unique headgear, sirpech, was a distinctive feature of their official outfit. The sirpech had three leaf-shaped ornaments mounted with diamonds and emeralds and a plume made of feathers taken, oddly enough, from the bird of paradise found only in New Zealand.

All the photos are from here (great site about Nepal but in German)

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12 comments:

  1. really lovely photos, nice history
    http://loving-evelyn.blogspot.ro

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  2. What a fascinating post :)
    The photos are amazing & speak of tremendous opulence.
    What I wouldn't give to be able to study those amazing garments up-close, they are like pieces of wearable art...xXx

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  3. Thanks to you I've learned something new today :) I know so little about Nepal and its rulers. I'm stunned by the enormous amount of jewelry! Very rich! Did you notice that all the wives look sad in the pictures? I wonder why... (rhetorical question :)) Have a wonderful week.

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    1. It was considered 'bon ton' amoung the Nepalese aristocrats to pose with 'gravitas'. Joyful or smiling demenours for portraits ans photos was considered flippant and frivolous. Even now, the ex-royal Shah and ex-aristocratic Rana families do not smile posing for the camera.

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  4. Fabulous headpieces but I'd still like my life instead, with my one husband!

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    1. Headpieces were very elaborate- very minutes braids piled as 'chignon' on the head and tiaras and broaches inserted into the 'chignon'.

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  5. I really loved your post ... so much informative about my ancestors.... Well am your new follower ..... :)
    Best wishes...
    XOXO

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. nice pics and post...super likes...

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  8. these are the people who made nepal...poor and backward..hell.

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