Pagdi: The multipurpose hues of Rajasthan

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Popularly known as pagdis or safas, turbans form an indispensable part of Rajasthan’s culture and attire.


Illustration credit: Team Cityscope

Besides majestic palaces, vivid festivals and distinct pieces of art, Rajasthan is known for its colourful clothing and garments. This includes heavy accessories, mojdis and turbans.

Also known as the pagdis or safas, turbans form an integral part of the state’s culture and attire. The existence of pagdis dates back to the Gupta dynasty where Rajput kings wore them as a symbol of grace and honour in the 7th century. So, even today, they are considered to be a symbol of status and identity.

Murad Ali has been making pagdis for thousands of people in open spaces at Badi Choupar, near Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, for many years now. He says that the origin of the traditional headgear dates back to the Mughal period.

"Turbans were worn since the time Mughals began ruling India. Even after that, several kings used to adorn it. In today's time however, people put them on especially during special occasions like festivals and weddings," says Murad Ali.

Besides these reasons, pagdis are regularly used as a protective apparel to avoid the harsh rays of the sun. Scanty rainfall through the year and stretches of Thar desert covering a large part of the landscape, makes Rajasthan one of the hottest states in India. Furthermore, pagdis have other mechanical purposes - they can be used as a rope to draw water from a well, and also as a shawl for the night.

Hence, the demand for the accessory across Rajasthan is quite high through the year.

"We make paghdis using items like wooden moulds, barrel shaped hammers, twines, and of course, clothing materials. Though the sale depends on orders from customers, we sell anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 pieces per year," notes Murad.

Pagdis differ region to region when it comes to size, color, style and pattern. While the Kevat community wears only red bandhani turbans, the Jats tend to put on bright yellow ones. The Bhils prefer marwari style pagdis and the Bishnois, generally adorn white colored turbans.

The kind of pagdis used also change according to seasons. The falgunia pagdis with white and red patterns are worn during spring, the ‘motiya’ or pearl pink coloured ones are adorned in the month of July. Lehriya prints with green and pink stripes or red and yellow stripes as well as Samodes are common in the time of monsoons.


Some resources and links to help you learn more about turbans: