The Gaddis, thumb story one of the major tribes famous for their nomadic lifestyles, hospital inhabit some of the highest pasturelands in the world and are integral to the vast diversity of people living in harmony with nature in the highlands of Himachal Pradesh.
Modernity has turned many Gaddi’s into permanent settlers but many of the tribesman still travel throughout the year largely for shepherding. Holding onto centuries old traditions and customs, capsule the tribal men and women are fiercely protective about their costumes and their pastoral lifestyles. Not only does the heavy woollen dress provide protection from the harsh weather conditions in the higher reaches of Chamba, Kangra, Mandi, Pangi and Lahul but it is also an important marker of their distinct identity.
The traditional Gaddi men wear Chola (a long woollen coat), Dor (used to tie the coat around the waist), Topi which is made from Patti (a woven woollen cloth) and Patti pyjamas underneath.
The Gaddi women’s attire consists of a Luanchari (frilled long frock), Dor, and a Duptta, which is called Ghundu. The Luanchari is tied around the waist with the Dor, which also does come handy in carrying heavy loads on the back, whenever the need arises. Most of the cloth, derived from the wool of the sheep reared, is mostly woven on home handlooms by the Gaddis themselves.
The old Pahari paintings and stone sculptures reveal that traditional ornaments of the Gaddi tribe date back to 7th century AD. Most of the ornaments of this tribe are made in silver for they consider it to be a sacred metal. Different type of carvings and patterns, with very delicate and minute craftsmanship done on it, make these ornaments excellent specimens of art that has been preserved for generations. Where earlier, all the craft work was done by hand, but with changing times machine tools have cast an influence on their workmanship.
Here is the list of some of the ornaments the Gaddi men and their women folk wear:
Chiri: This is worn by the Gaddi ladies on the forehead with the help of strings and represents the identity of married women.
Jhumka & Dur: While the females wear Jhumkas (ear rings), the men wear Dur (golden ear rings). This ornament is mostly worn at the time of marriage.
Chanderahar: A heavy silver necklace, usually worn by a bride.
Chack or Chakdi: It is yet another symbol of a married lady. It is worn on the back of the head, mostly beaded in the plait with the help of silver clips or a string called Dori. Beeni Chack has one loop and two strings which are used to tie it up in the plait.
Gojru and Toke: These are silver bracelets, often worn in pairs.
Fulli: A big sized gold nose pin with a red coloured stone in the middle of it is again the symbol of a married woman. Balu is a nose ring, also made of gold. Unlike the others, nose ornaments are made of gold because the women consider it a bad notion to wear silver ornaments in the nose.
Singi: It is a small sized necklace with golden beads and a silver pendent.
Pari- It is an anklet made of silver and is worn usually by the newly wedded.
Phullu- These are worn on toes and represent a married woman. They have different designs and patterns on it.
The Gaddi tribe make woven woollen articles like blankets (Gardu, Gardi, Dodh), Patti, shawls, ropes (Thalch from goat hair), bags (from sheep or goat skin), carpets (from goat hair) etc., which are generally made for their personal use and not for trading or the marketing.