A group of Kashmiri men wearing the Pheran from Kashmir Valley
TypeTraditional Dress
MaterialWool and Cotton
Place of originKashmir

Pheran [a] or Phiran is the traditional outfit for both males and females in Kashmir.[1]

The pheran consists of two gowns, one over the other.[2] The traditional pheran extends to the feet, which was popular up to the late 19th century C.E.[3] However, a relatively modern variation of the pheran extends to below the knees,[4] which is worn with a suthan inside (loose form of shalwar) similar to the styles worn in Afghanistan.[5][6]

It is optional to wear the suthan with a long phiran as traditionally lower garments are not worn with pherans. The traditional pheran do not have side slits.

In summer, the pheran are made of cotton, but in winter, the pheran is made of wool, covering and protecting the body from the cold especially during snow. These dresses are used by the residents of the Kashmir valley and Kashmiris residing in Chenab Valley.

Since Pheran is unique to the kashmiri culture and it is worn particularly to protect oneself from the coolest phase(Chilai Kalan-starts from December 21) in winter, December 21 is now being celebrated as Pheran Day in Kashmir valley.

Etymology and history

Pheran is a corruption of the Persian word 'perahan' which means cloak.[7] The outfit has been in vogue in Kashmir since before the 15th century.[8]

Before the advent of Islamic influence, the people of Kashmir used to wear a loose gown-type leather doublet instead of pheran, as recorded by Hiuen-Tsang.[9]

According to some sources, the pheran was introduced by Mughal emperor Akbar when he conquered the valley in 1586.[10] However, according to historian Prithivi Nath Kaul Bamzai, with the arrival of Sufi saints and Muslim theologians from Persia and Central Asia, Kashmiris adopted their long robes and round turbans. The long robe, in particular, is considered the precursor to the Pheran, which is now the traditional attire of Kashmiris.[11]


Head dress

Pheran worn by a Kashmiri Pandit woman, 1922


Hindu women use a headwear called "taranga" (Kashmiri pronunciation: [tarɨnɡɨ]), which is a headdress which becomes smaller down at back, towards the heels. It is popular in some areas of Kashmir.


Kashmiri Muslim women use a headwear known as the "kasaba" (Kashmiri pronunciation: [kasaːbɨ]). The kasaba is padded by means of a turban and is pinned together by brooches. A veil made of pashmina or Silk is pinned to the top of the kasaba that descends towards the back of the neck. There are two types of kasaba: "Thoud kasaba" and "Bonn kasaba". Thoud kasaba (high kasaba) sits on the head like a crown, worn only by married women belonging to elite families. House of khwajawal in Naid kadal made the most beautiful kasabas.[12] Bonn kasaba (low kasaba) sits on head like a bandana, worn by commoners and tribal women.[12] The most magnificent and expensive kasabas were made of kashmiri kundan work known as "Jarrah": precious gem stones, usually rubies, spinels and emerald are set in 24 carat gold to make various kundan ornaments (Tikka, Taweez, Hung taweez, Bal hor, kan vass) pinned to the red cap having intricate Kashmiri "Tilla work" (silver thread work). Kundan kasaba was worn only by royals.[13] Kundan kasaba were only made by house of Kundanghar in Khwaja bazar.[13]

Begum Mehtab of House Khwajawal wearing Kundan kasaba and bal hourr (kundan earrings).


The pheran is a loose upper garment loosely gathered at the sleeves, which tend to be wide,[14] made of either wool or jamewar, which is a mixture of wool and cotton,[5] with no side slits. A pheran made of wool is called a 'loch'.[15] Female pheran dresses are designed with colorful flowerlike designed elements and styles. Male pheran dresses are quite simple, without any colourful design.

The traditional pheran falls to the feet like a gown.[16] This style was universally worn by the Kashmiri Hindu and Kashmiri Muslim communities into the later 19th century C.E.[17] However, a modern version worn by Muslims is knee-length, loose and stitched on the front side ane finishes, while Hindus often still wear their pherans long, extending down the legs. Ankle length Pherans[18] are tied at the waist.[19] Intricate embroideries or flower styles are a popular on Kashmiri ladies pherans. The embroideries or flower designs are made of thin metal threads; this kind of embroidery is known as 'Tille' in Kashmiri language.


The poots (Kashmiri pronunciation: [poːt͡sʰ]) is the same as the pheran but made of lighter material; it is worn beneath the pheran. It is generally used to protect the pheran from burns from the kangri. It also provides extra warmth during winters, double layer insulation from the cold winter days.


Traditionally, the pheran and poots were worn without a lower garment.[20][21] Indeed, in neighbouring Hunza too, women did not wear pajamas until 1890 and in Nagar until 1925.[22] Since the latter part of the 19th century, loose suthans (shalwars) and churidar pajamas of the Punjab region became popular in Kashmir.[23][24] Accordingly, the suthan or churidar pajama can form part of the pheran ensemble but is not a must. The Kashmiri suthan is baggy and loose and is similar to the Dogri suthan worn in the Jammu region. Some versions are similar to the shalwars worn in Afghanistan. However, since the 1960s, the straight cut Punjabi salwar has become popular.[25][26][27]

Modern fashion

Modern trends saw a decline in the use of pherans in favour of the shalwar kameez.[28] However, there has been a revival in recent years as pherans have become part of modern fashion,[29] and are worn by females of other areas of Kashmir as well.[30] Kashmiri men are also wearing the pheran as a fashionable outfit.[31] Combined with jeans, the pheran has made its way into the office world.[32] The modern pheran is not as wide and long[33] as the traditional ankle or knee-length version and sometimes has side slits. Fewer men are wearing the phiran with a shalwar.[34] Modern pherans, known as Raglan Pherans are a hybrid of western raglan coat and traditional wear.[35]

Photo gallery

See also


  1. ^ Pronounced in Kashmiri pronunciation: [pʰʲaran]


  1. ^ Bakshi, S. R. (1997). Kashmir Through Ages (5 Vol) By S. R. Bakshi. Sarup & Sons. ISBN 9788185431710.
  2. ^ Tikoo, Colonel Tej K. Colonel Tej K Tikoo (2013) Kashmir: Its Aborigines and Their Exodus. Lancer Publishers LLC. ISBN 9781935501589.
  3. ^ Letters from India and Kashmir (1874). 1874.
  4. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (13 November 2014). Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013) Kashur The Kashmiri Speaking People. Partridge Publishing Singapore. ISBN 9781482899450.
  5. ^ a b Sengupta, Pradip Kumar (1991). Asoke Kumar Bhattacharyya, Pradip Kumar Sengupta Foundations of Indian Musicology: Perspectives in the Philosophy of Art and Culture (1991). Abhinav Publications. ISBN 9788170172734.
  6. ^ Bamzai, P. N. K. (1994). (1994) Culture and Political History of Kashmir, Volume 1. M.D. Publications Pvt. ISBN 9788185880310.
  7. ^ Glimpses of Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh: History and Culture : Prof. P.N. Pushp Memorial Volume. Gyan Sagar Publications. 2000. ISBN 978-81-7685-070-4.
  8. ^ Dewan, Parvez (2004). Dewan, Parvez (2004) Parvéz Dewân's Jammû, Kashmîr, and Ladâkh: Kashmîr. Manas Publications. ISBN 9788170491798.
  9. ^ Hāṇḍā, Omacanda (1998). Textiles, Costumes, and Ornaments of the Western Himalaya. Indus Publishing. ISBN 978-81-7387-076-7.
  10. ^ "The Untold Story Of Kashmiri Pheran And Its Place In Kashmir's History". Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  11. ^ Bamzai, Prithivi Nath Kaul (1962). A History of Kashmir: Political, Social, Cultural, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Metropolitan Book Company.
  12. ^ a b "Of Dastar and Kasaba". Greater Kashmir. 14 March 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Kashmir Lost, the Last Professional Kundangar". Kashmir Life. 22 January 2019. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  14. ^ Forster, George (1808). Forster, George (1808) A Journey from Bengal to England, Through the Northern Part of India, Kashmire, Afghanistan, and Persia, and Into Russia, by the Caspian-Sea, Volume 2.
  15. ^ The Phoenix, Volume 3 (1883). 1873.
  16. ^ Jain, Simmi (2003). Jain, Simmi (2003) Encyclopaedia of Indian Women Through the Ages: The middle ages. Gyan Publishing House. ISBN 9788178351735.
  17. ^ Letters from India and Kashmir (1874) Muslim women are shown as recent as 1870 wearing the long Pheran. 1874.
  18. ^ "How Kashmiris keep themselves warm during winter - Kazinag". Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  19. ^ Kashmir, Volumes 2-3 (1952)
  20. ^ Cultural Heritage of India- Kashmiri Pandit Contribution. The Publication of Kashmir Sabha, Calcutta (1999-2000) [1]
  21. ^ Irby, Augustus Henry (1863) The diary of a hunter from the Punjab to the Karakorum mountains [2]
  22. ^ Chohan,Amar Singh (1893) Historical Study of Society and Culture in Dardistan and Ladakh [3]
  23. ^ Kumar, Raj (2006) Paintings and Lifestyles of Jammu Region: From 17th to 19th Century A.D. [4]
  24. ^ Kapur, Manohar Lal (1992) Social and economic history of Jammu and Kashmir State, 1885-1925 A.D. [5]
  25. ^ India. Office of the Registrar General (1961) Census of India, 1961: Jammu and Kashmir [6]
  26. ^ Dorris Flynn (1986) Costumes of India
  27. ^ Shri Parmananda Research Institute, 1982 Glimpses of Kashmiri Culture, Volume 5 [7]
  28. ^ Dhar, Somnath (1999( Jammu and Kashmir
  29. ^ Piyali Bhattachary (14 April 2015)Khadi Couture: How to Wear Kashmiri Tweed Wall Street Journal [8]
  30. ^ "Clothing in Kashmir". Kashmir Travel Information. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  31. ^ Ishfaq-ul-Hassan (11 February 2015) DNA Real aping reel: Kashmir valley gripped by 'Haider' pheran fever [9]
  32. ^ Rashid, Toufiq (29 November 2014) Hindustan Times. Pheran making a political statement in Kashmir [10]
  33. ^ (Hassan, Firdous (11 February 2015) The Kashmir Monitor. With e-commerce 'Pheran' goes global [11]
  34. ^ Medhora, Sarosh (2 September 2000) The Tribune. Focus on men’s formals
  35. ^ "Raglan PHERAN". Kashmir Uzma. Retrieved 2 January 2019.