World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0003031593
Reproduction Date:

Title: Choli  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Gagra choli, Langa Voni, Lehenga Style Saree, Pakistani clothing, Saris
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Woman in choli ca. 1872

A choli (Hindi Nepali: चोली, , Marathi: चोळी, ravike Tamil: ரவிக்கை, Telugu: రవికె(ravike), although choli is the preferred word Telugu Kannada: ರವಿಕೆ) is a midriff-baring blouse or upper garment in the Indian sari costume worn in India, southern Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and other countries where the sari is worn. It is also part of the ghagra choli costume of India. The choli is cut to fit tightly to the body and has short sleeves and a low neck. The choli is usually cropped, allowing exposure of the midriff and the navel.


Choli from Gujarat at the Peabody Essex Museum
Traditional form of Choli tied at the back from Braj region of Uttar Pradesh.
Women in ancient form of long front covering choli tied at the back

The term "choli" is derived from another ruling clan from south, the Cholas.[1] Rajatarangini (meaning the 'river of kings'), a tenth-century literary work by Kalhana, states that the Choli from the Deccan was introduced under the royal order of Kashmir.[1] The first cholis were front covering, with choli tied at the back with four strings. Choli of this type are still common in state of Rajasthan.[2] Pre-Christian era paintings of Maharashtra and Gujarat are considered the first recorded examples of choli. Poetic references from works like Silapadikkaram indicate that during the Sangam period 3rd century BC - 4th century CE in ancient South India, a single piece of clothing served as both lower garment and upper shawl. In Kerala, paintings by Raja Ravi Varma indicate women being topless. On the contrary,other historians point to much textual and artistic evidence for various forms of breastband and upper-body-shawl.

Indian paintings

Historic photographs

Changing times

Bollywood actress Yuvika Chaudhary in a modern sleeveless choli that resembles a sports bra.
Actress Vidya Balan in a sari. She is wearing a deep-back choli or blouse

During the 1960s, a woman was still not considered a 'lady' if her neckline was cut too daringly and bared too much, especially if she wore her sari pallu pulled to one side, giving a glimpse of her bosom. A lady of honour ideally covered her back and upper arms with a blouse made of a thicker fabric. Of course, not every woman followed the norm. In the 1970s and 1980s, the blouses went knotty, criss-crossed with a deep cut, and even shone through the sheer saree.[3] Anupama Raj, a boutique owner commented, "There is a very real need to re-invent the choli so that it can be worn with a variety of outfits. Just as we see the choli to be a deconstructed form of the blouse, we need to deconstruct the choli. Only then, will it be acceptable internationally." Bobby Malik, an exporter-turned-designer commented,"The choli is the most sensuous of all garments created for women. It not only flatters the feminine form, but also brings out the romanticism in a woman. But where Indian designers have failed is at giving it an international look and making it still more beautiful."[4] The late Khushwant Singh in his book Sex Scotch and Scholarship stated, "A well-cut blouse worn with the saree elevates the bosom and exposes the belly to below the navel."[5][6]

Today the entire approach towards the choli is adventurous. Their metamorphosis has taken cholis from being demure and sedate to daring, with adventurous tailoring and innovative necklines, such as halter, tubes, backless or stringed.[7] Designer Manish Malhotra said, "Since most young people follow a healthy gym routine and are at ease with their bodies, they want to look different and still be effortlessly comfortable. They like to travel and carry a sense of Indianness around them."[3] Designer Vikram Phadnis said, "It's also to do with the fact that the new age woman is well-traveled, well-read and open to experimentation."[8] Sonora Kabir, another Delhi-based designer commented, "Normally, the choli is supposed to hover around the navel area. But if you crop the lower edges and combine it with a funky design — beads, embroidery etc.,— it would be chic enough to be worn over jeans or a pair of trousers."[4]


Actress Eesha Koppikhar in an embroidered choli

Traditionally, the choli has been made from the same fabric as the sari, with many sari producers adding extra length to their products so that women can cut off the excess fabric at the end of the sari and use it to sew a matching choli. Cholis can be made from many fabrics. For everyday wear, [9] Sheer and other transparent fabrics are considered to add glamour, provided they come with an opaque lining in the right places. Cholis made out of velvet and suede are considered the deadliest faux pas in the Indian culture.[8]


The colour of the choli is usually matched with the colour of the sari. Currently, the cholis are worn in contrast colours to that of the colour of the sari.[10] Colours like black, white, navy blue, deep purple, crimson red, lemony yellow, hot pink and sea green are mostly preferred.[8] The colour of the moment is shades of blue and aqua. Designers also recommend that the skin tone should be taken into consideration before choosing what colour the blouse should be. Darker hues such as navy and black can make one appear slimmer. Fluorescent colours are mostly avoided.[11]

Other than the colour, prints are also given significance. Embroidery on blouses that use threads of contrasting shades is considered trendy.[12] For formal occasions, embroidered blouses are still very popular.[11] When wearing a crepe sari, richly embroidered, sheer cholis are preferred.[13] Other embellishments that could make an appearance on your blouse include sequins, kundan work and crystals.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^
  13. ^

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.