What Kind of Clothes Do They Wear in Nepal?

by Michelle Powell-Smith

Nepal is home to various religions, ethnic groups and even climates. This has led to significant variations in Nepalese dress, both historically and in modern times. While the dress of Nepal has also been influenced by nearby countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Nepalese clothing retains an independent identity with garments specific to the cultures of Nepal.

History

Nepalese King Gyanendra greating dignitaries

While Western dress has been adopted in many of the countries surrounding Nepal, Nepal's history as an independent monarchy throughout the 18th and 19th centuries allowed this land to retain much of its traditional dress and customs. The clothing in more rural regions of Nepal has remained relatively unchanged for centuries.

Geography

Fans watch elephant polo match in Meghauly, Nepal

Nepal includes a lowland in the south, near the Ganges River with a warm and humid climate. The climate is more temperate in the region surrounding Kathmandu, while a cold alpine climate with short summers and long, harsh winters prevails at higher elevations. The geography of Nepal has played a clear role in typical Nepalese clothes for different groups in this mountainous nation.

Men's Clothing

Retired Gurkha serviceman in Pandur, Nepal

Traditional men's clothing in much of Nepal consists of the daura suruwal or labeda-suruwal. This garment consists of a long tunic or vest over pants. The vest or tunic has five pleats and eight ties, each with religious significance. The pants fit quite loosely through the hips and crotch and are then quite fitted from the knee to ankle. A wool hat, called the topi, completes the traditional outfit. Today, the topi may be worn with Western men's dress, particularly in the cities.

Women's Clothing

Nepalese villagers watch ceremony in Lumbini, Nepal

Women in Nepal wear a sari-like garment called a guniu. The guniu can be woven from cottons or silk fabrics. In Nepal, the sari is commonly draped around the waist and worn with a separate shawl like garment on the upper body. This style of draping is called Haku patasi.

Sherpa Dress

Sherpas in line to meet King

Traditional Sherpa dress consists of a knee-length robe woven of yak wool. This garment is similar for both men and women and is worn with yak wool pants. Boots made of yak hide and stuffed with dried grass for warmth were traditional. Today, many Sherpas have opted for Western dress, including cowboy hats and boots.

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