Clothing : A Social History – Class 9 IX – History Social Science – Textbook NCERT Solutions



Q1. Imagine you are the 14 year old child of a trader. Write a paragraph on what you feel about the Sumptuary laws in France.

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Ans. The Sumptuary laws were based on social hierarchy, and therefore I never appreciate these laws. There should not be any restrictions on our food and dress. What we
want to eat, we must have the freedom of eating those items. Similarly, we must have the freedom to purchase whatever materials for our clothing we want to purchase. But the Sumptuary laws tried to control the behaviour of those considered social inferiors preventing them from wearing certain clothes, and consuming certain foods.

Q2. Can you think of any expectations of proper and improper dress which exist today? Give examples of two forms of clothing which would be considered disrespectful in certain places but acceptable in others.

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Ans. Do it yourself.

Q1. Explain the reasons for the change of clothing patterns and materials in the eighteenth century.

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Ans. The following reasons are given below.
(i) British trade with India brought cheap, beautiful and easy-to-maintain India chintz within the reach of many Europeans.
(ii) During the Industrial Revolution, Britain began the mass manufacture of cotton textiles which it exported to many parts of the world, including India. Cotton clothes became more accessible to a wider section of people in Europe.
(iii) The end of Sumptuary laws ended aristocratic privileges in clothing. However, difference between social strata didn’t disappear completely. But laws no longer barred people from using certain materials and styles.

Q2. What were the Sumptuary laws in France?

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Ans. The Sumptuary laws in France came into force in 1294 and lasted till the French Revolution in 1789. These laws were based on social hierarchy. The laws imposed social codes of food and dress upon different starta of the British society. The laws tried to control the behaviour of those considered social inferiors, preventing them from wearing certain clothes, consuming certain foods and beverages and hunting game in certain areas. Thus, the items of clothing a person could buy per year was regulated, not only by income but also by social rank. The material to be used for clothing was also legally prescribed. Only royalty could wear expensive materials like ermine and fur, or silk, velvet and brocade. Other classes were not expected to cloth themselves with materials that were associated with the aristocracy.

Q3. Give any two examples of the ways in which European dress codes were different from Indian dress codes.

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Ans. European dress codes were different from Indian dress codes in the following ways:
Let’s first take the example of the turban and hat. These two headgears not only looked different, they also signified different things. The turban in India was not just for protecting from the heat but was a sign of respectability, and could not be removed at will. In the western tradition, the hat had to be removed before social superiors as a sign of respect.
Another example is related to the wearing of shoes. Indians usually took off their shoes when they entered a sacred place or home. The British wanted that Indians should do so when they entered the courtroom. But Indians were not ready for this. They urged that taking off shoes in sacred places and at home was linked to two different questions. First, there was the problem of dirt and filth because shoes collected the dirt on the road. This dirt could not be allowed into spaces that were clean, particularly, when people in Indian homes sat on the ground. Second, leather shoes and filth that stuck under it were seen as polluting. But public buildings like the courtroom were different from home.

Q4. In 1805, a British official Benjamin Heyne, listed the manufactures of Bangalore which included the following:
• Women’s cloth of different musters and names
• Coarse chintz
• Muslin
• Silk clothes
Of this list, which kind of cloth would have definitely fallen out of use in the early 1900s and why?

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Ans. In this list, the kind of cloth that would have definitely fallen out of use in the early 1900s were coarse chintz and muslins. The reasons behind this are given below:
(i) The Industrial Revolution in Britain, which mechanised spinning and weaving and greatly increased the demand for raw materials such as indigo and cotton, lowered India’s status in the world economy.
(ii) Political control of India helped the British in two ways:
• Indian peasants could be forced to grow crops such as indigo, and cheap British manufacture easily replaced costly Indian one.
• Large numbers of Indian weavers and spinners were left without work and important textile weaving centres like Murshiclabad, Machilipatnam and Surat declined as demand fell.
(iii) A very good quality of cotton was needed for making muslins which was now not available.

Q5. Suggest reasons why women iri nineteenth century India were obliged to continue wearing traditional Indian dress even when men switched over to the more convenient western clothing. What does this show about the position of women in society?

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Ans. This shows that Indian society was male dominated or patriarchal. Women’s clothing styles were not given much importance. They were confined to the four walls of the house and therefore, they never enjoyed independent status in the society. They were guided by their male-counterparts who regarded women western clothes as a sign of shamelessness. They Were never given a nod to wear such clothes. However, the prevalent social norms had made women so docile and obedient that they always tried to remain within the boundaries of the accepted rules and regulations and never dared to displease their fathers or husbands.

Q6. Winston Churchill described Mr now ahaszra seditious Middle Temple Lawyer
naked fakir’. What provoked Such a comment and what does it tell you about the symbolic strength of Mahatma Gandhi’s dress?

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Ans. When Mahatma went to London to study law as a boy of 19 in 1888, he cut-off the tuft on his head and dressed in a western suit. On his return, he continued to wear western suits, topped with a turban. As a lawyer in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the 1890s, he still wore western clothes. But he did not continue to wear these clothes. In 1921, he adopted the short khadi-dhoti made of coarse home spun cotton yarn to identify himself with the poor of the country.
Winston Churchill made the above comment in order to degrade the image of Mahatma Gandhi as an opportunist. He viewed Gandhi as a threat to the British Government in India. So, he tried to lessen his influence by making such a remark.
Gandhi’s dress (loin cloth) had a great symbolic strength. He adopted this dress to identify himself with the poor in India. Khadi, white and coarse, was to him a sign of purity, of simplicity, and of poverty. Wearing it became also a symbol of nationalism. He gained popularity everywhere. This helped him making his struggle a truly mass movement.

Q7. Why did Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of clothing the nation in Khadi appeal only to some sections of Indians?

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Ans.  Mahatma Gandhi wanted to clothe the whole nation in Khadi. But this did not appeal to all sections of Indians. Reasons are given below:
(i) Nationalists such as Motilal Nehru gave up wearing expensive western style suits and adopted the Indian dhoti and kurta. But these were not made of coarse cloth.
(ii) Those who have been deprived of caste norms for centuries were attracted to western dress style. For instance, Babasaheb Ambedkar never gave up the western style suit. Many Dalits began in the early 1910s to wear three-piece suits, and shoes and socks on all public occasions, as a political statement of self-respect.
(iii) Wearing Khadi was an expensive affair. It was difficult for poor people of the country to adopt it.
(iv) Other women, like Sarojini Naidu and Kamala Nehru, wore coloured saris with designs, instead of coarse, white homespun.

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