Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.


This study examines the manner in which the odhani—a head cover cloth used by women in the Kutch District, Gujarat State, India—is worn, in order to explain how clothes create social relationships, like gender, caste, and inter religious relations.

One of the limitations of previous studies on Indian Muslims is that this community -- a minority -- was discussed separately from Hindu society, which has a different social system and structure. However, in reality, both communities share a common culture to a large extent, and regularly interact with each other. Their clothes provide a new perspective for understanding the social relations between the Hindus and Muslims.

It is said that clothes indicate an individual’s social status. In my opinion, however, the function of clothes is not limited to a representation of the community to which the wearer belongs, but also creates differences between communities. Boundaries between communities are not rigid. Interaction with others can lead to changes in those boundaries and the significance of clothes. Hence, clothes are both an indicator and creator of the boundaries. This paper discusses the process of how visible boundaries are created by clothes, in order to complete the traditional discussion on Muslim society, in which the Muslims are considered separate from Hindu society.