What did Ascetics wear throughout the Ramayana period?

I would say “Chiira-mahaatmya” — A vivid imagery from Ayodhya kanda, 37th & 38th sarga

Rama puts on bark — Vasistha blames Kaikeyi — says Sita was not ordained to wear bark

Sita goes in Bark clothes following Raama. On this Dasharatha wishes hell for Kaikeyi.

I could have just typed the shloka and sarga numbers, but I copied and wrote the entire description for the reader’s enlightenment.

Ascetics, Rishis, and Munis all wore Bark Robes, according to the above description. Before weaving, this was one of the most ancient processes. This was also popular throughout the Ramayana period. And in some regions of Africa, this is still customary (see the pic below). In India we find this in practice in some Orrisan tribes.

Why Saffron-Orange colour used by the ascetics later?

After the Ramayana time (12000–13000 BCE), we can discover that Indians switched to Karpasa-cotton. Note that the Cotton is absent in Ramayana. The cotton fragment found in the copperbead has been dated to around 6000 BCE. Cloth dyeing appears to have become available, resulting in orange robes and the replacement of Bark clothing with saffron-colored cotton garments. The Mahabharata mentions the Kings’ white and red turbans. Colors appear to have been utilised for classifications and hierarchies as well.

Banana bark clothing-Humanity’s oldest skill of clothing

Read hear.

There is yet another description of कुशचीरे- Garment made of Kusha grass.

One can read about the (mino) straw cape made of rice straw which has water repellant properties here.

Mino- Source : Wikipedia
Natural clothing making — gyékény és fű ruha

Takeaway

We will discuss about the name Kausheya and Kushaa in some another blog. Right now the takeaway of this blog is — Ascetics wore Birch or Bark attire in the Ramayana times. Kausheya (of the Kushaa) appears to be a precurser nomenclature for the fine silk.

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Architect and Adjunct Assistant Professor at School of Indic studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, MA, USA

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Rupa Bhaty

Architect and Adjunct Assistant Professor at School of Indic studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, MA, USA