Kerala Women Topless Costume in 19th Malabar None of the Hindu ladies except Brahmins thought that the breast has to be covered; and to them to cover the breast was an act of immodesty.

1662-"Nieuhof's Audience with ye Queen of Koylang [Quilon=now -KOLLAM TOWN]," from "Mr John Nieuhoff's remarkable voyages & travels into ye best provinces of ye West and East Indies", printed for Awnsham and John Churchill at the Black Swan in Pater Noster Row, London, 1703:


The Dutch representative William Van Nieuhoff describes the Rani as:
... I was introduced into her majesty's presence. She had a guard of above 700 Nair soldiers about her, all clad after the Malabar fashion; the Queens attire being no more than a piece of callicoe wrapt around her middle, the upper part of her body appearing for the most part naked, with a piece of callicoe hanging carelessly round her shoulders. Her ears, which were very long, her neck and arms were adorned with precious stones, gold rings and bracelets and her head covered with a piece of white callicoe. She was past her middle age, of a brown complexion, with black hair tied in a knot behind, but of majestick mein, she being a princess who shew'd a great deal of good conduct in the management of her affairs [15]

ALSO-KERALA DRESS 1500 TILL NOWclick and see:-

It was considered a taboo and impropriety to cover the breasts in 18th and 19th century kerala.south india 'upto 1960 in malabar areas

The nair women and high caste women covered their breasts with a white mundu tied above the breast level 'covering down upto the ankle.

The dalit(called low caste and out caste) where not allowed to cover their breasts,and forbidden by force to uncover, if they covered.unfortunately the royal family of kerala didnot support lower caste(dalit) woman covering their breasts

       IN MALABAR:-
Shaikh Zainuddin gives interesting details of this mode of dress; only a single loin cloth is girdled round the waist leaving the upper part exposed. In this respect males and females, rajas and nobles, rich and poor are equal.” None of the Hindu ladies except Brahmins thought that the breast was to cover;

 and to them to cover the breast was an act of immodesty.


“The caste law prohibits a Nair lady to cover her breast. There are instances of cruelties inflicted upon the ladies for violating these laws. An Ezhava lady who happened to travel abroad and returned well dressed was summoned by the Queen of Attingal and her breast was cut off for covering them

. In Travancore a riot occurred when a group of upper caste men assaulted a lady of Ezhava caste for wearing cloth below her knees.

 In 1859 another riot took place in Travancore and continued for several days, when the ladies of Channar caste started to cover the breast. The revolt was called chela kalapam (cloth revolt). It became very important that later scholars regarded it as a part of the struggle for independence.

Unlike his co-religionists in Malabar, Tipu
 never respected Hindu customs and traditions which Hindus considered as divine and virtuous while to the sultan they were inhumane and obnoxious. His decrees against polyandry and nudity of women really infuriated Hindus who though that Sultan was planning to convert them to Islam. The attitude showed by Hindus when Tipu asked the women of Nair families “to adopt Muhammadan custom of covering their bosom” clearly proves their intention towards reforms.

 The christian missionaries supported by the british resident were helping the lowcaste woman converted to christianity to cover their breasts
 in 1859 a royal promulgation was passed that, all low caste women should remain naked above waist ;except those converted to christianity
 finally in 1865 british governor of madras(now called chennai) who had power over kerala (travncore) king ;passed a legislation ;to cover breasts of all women irrespective of caste or religion.this ruling had to be followed by the king of travancore also

"Women’s Liberation"1968--1990 OF USA AND

'Bra-burning'[Is Bra-Burning a Myth?]:-
Members of New York Radical Women, upset by the Miss America Pageant's focus on women's physique and seeing an opportunity to publicize their cause, traveled to Atlantic City by bus.The feminists dumped items like high-heeled shoes, bras, false eyelashes and issues of Ladies' Home Journal into a "Freedom Trash Can."Newspapers helped fuel the fire;In the Sept. 8 issue of the New York Times, protest organizer and former child actor Robin Morgan is quoted as saying the women would hold a "symbolic bra-burning." so the bra-burning myth was born;protesters must have burned their bras at some later point in time.

"Bra-burning" also became associated with the movement.The feminist movement affected change in Western society.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------FROM WIKI PEDIA ON UPPER CLOTH CONTROVERSY  IN TRAVANCORE-:-


1-Upper cloth controversy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Upper cloth revolt)

2-Upper cloth controversy


chapter - iii - Shodhganga › jspui › bitstream
The social order prevailing in Travancore at the beginning ... 11 Velu Pillai, T.K., The Travancore State Manual, Vol. ... Travancore to fill the coffer of the state. 13.
The upper cloth controversy or upper cloth revolt refers to incidents surrounding the rebellion by Nadar climber women asserting their rights to wear upper clothes against the caste restrictions sanctioned by the Travancore kingdom, a part of present day Kerala.
In Travancore, Cochin and Malabar, no female was allowed to cover their upper part of the body in front of Brahmins until the 19th century. Under the support of Ayya Vaikundar,[1] some communities fought for their right to wear upper clothes and the upper class resorted to attacking them in 1818. In 1819, the Rani of Travancore announced that the Nadar climber women have no right to wear upper clothes like most non-Brahmin castes of Kerala. However, the aristocratic Nadan women of Kerala, their counterparts, had the rights to cover their bosom.[2] Violence against Nadar climber women continued and reached its peak in 1858 across the kingdom, notably in Neyyattinkara and Neyyur.
On 26 July 1859, under pressure from the Madras Governor, the king of Travancore issued a proclamation announcing the right of Nadar climber women to wear upper clothes but on condition that they should not imitate the style of clothing worn by upper class women.[3][4][5]Though the proclamation did not quell the tension immediately, it gradually subsided as the social and economical status of Nadar climbers progressed in subsequent decades with significant support from missionaries and Ayya Vaikundar.




19th century Travancore had a rigid caste hierarchy. There also existed a strict code of respect and mannerisms enforced by the state. The women were not allowed to carry pots on their hips or wear clothes that covered their breasts. Baring of chest to higher status was considered a sign of respect, by both males and females.[4][6] The Nadar climbers of Travancore fared a little better than their Tirunelveli counterparts, but, however, suffered severe social disabilities ,unlike their Tirunelveli counterparts, under the rigid caste hierarchy of Travancore. As Swami Vivekanandha stated, Kerala was a mad asylum of castes. The Nadar climber women wear not allowed to cover their bosoms, as most of the non- Brahmin women, to punctuate their low status. However the aristocratic Nadan women, their counterparts, had the rights to cover their bosom. Uneasy with their social status, a large number of Nadar climbers embraced Christianity.[7]


Proselytization to Christianity by missionaries started in Tirunelveli and started spreading to Travancore. In 1813, Colonel John Munro, Britishdewan in the Travancore court, issued an order granting permission to wear upper cloth to women converted to Christianity. The order was downgraded to wearing kuppayam, a type of jacket worn by Syrian Malabar Nasranis upon pressure from the pidakkars, the king's ruling council. Christian missionaries continued proselytising the Nadar climbers and helped the women train in lace making and other profitable business. The Nadar Christians became upwardly mobile[4]

[edit]1858 revolt

Though the Nadar Christians improved their status with the aid of Christian missionaries, the outcome of the conversion was not according to the point of view of the missionaries. The Christian Nadar climber women, along with the Hindu Nadar climber women, wore the upper jacket in the manner of upper class women and also their Tamil counterparts, inorder to improve their social status. In turn they were discriminated and even abused by upper class men. One of the Nadan families of Agastheeswaraminstead of supporting their depressed counterparts, supported the upper class men and claimed that only their women had the right to wear a uppercloth.[8]
In 1858, fresh violence broke out in several places in Travancore and the governor of Madras presidency, Charles Trevelyan pressured the Travancore king. On 26 July 1859, the king issued a proclamation leading to the restoration of equal rights to wear upper cloth to all Kerala Nadar climber women

Channar revolt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt, also called Maru Marakkal Samaram,[1] refers to the fight from 1813 to 1859 of Nadar climber women in Travancore kingdom for the right to wear upper-body clothes to cover their breasts. This right was previously reserved for Nair women, who were higher-class Hindu women.



In 19th century Travancore lower-class women were not allowed to wear clothes that covered their breasts. Baring of chest to higher status was considered a sign of respect, by both males and females.[2][3] Higher-class women covered both breasts and shoulders,[1] whereas Nadar climber women were not allowed to cover their bosoms, as most of the non-Brahmin women, to punctuate their low status. Uneasy with their social status, a large number of Nadar climbers embraced Christianity,[4] and started to wear "long cloths," at the request of the missionaries.[2] When conversion further spread, the Nadar women started to wear the Nair breast cloth.[2]

1813-1829 grants and withdrawals

The Nadars and Izhavas women successfully campaigned to be allowed to cover their breasts. In 1813, Colonel John Munro, British dewan in the Travancore court, issued an order granting permission to women converted to Christianity to wear upper cloth.[2][1] The order was withdrawn when pindakars, members of the Raja's council, complainted about this, arguing that this right would obliterate caste-differences, and lead to widespread pollution in the state.[2] Nadar women were forbidden to wear the Nair sharf, and instead were allowed to wear the kuppayam, a type of jacket worn by Syrian Christians, Shonagas, and Maplas.[2][1] The Nadars and Izhavas women were not satisfied, continuing to fight for the right to wear upper cloth "like any other woman in the higher castes,"[1] and preferring breast-clothing in the Nair-style.[5] This lead to increasing violence in the 1820s against Nadar women, and also the burning of schools and churches.[5] In 1828 the Travancore government again forbid Nadar-women the Nair-style breast-clothes, but permitted the wearing of the jacket.[5] In 1829, the rani (queen) issued yet another proclamation, which denied the right of Nadar women to wear upper cloths.[1]

1859 proclamation

In 1858, new violence broke out in several places in Travancore. On 26 July 1859, under pressure from Charles Trevelyan, the Madras Governor, the king of Travancore issued a proclamation proclaiming the right for all Nadar women to cover their breasts, either by wearing jackets, like the Christian Nadars, or tie coarse-cloth around their upper-body, like the Mukkavattigal (low-caste fisher-women).[5][6][7] Yet they were still not allowed to cover their breasts in the style of the higher-class women.[8][9][10] This solution was not satisfactory to the missionaries, who regarded the Christian Nadar women to be of a higher status than the Mukkavattigal women.[11] The Nadar continued to ignore the restrictions, developing an upper-wear style that resembled the style of the higherclass Hindu women,[11] but offended some Hindus as a provocation by the missionaries.[11]

Further emancipation

After the revolt, pamphlets appeared putting forth the claims of Kshatriya status of the Nadars. Members of the caste claimed the right to wear the sacred thread and to ride palanquins to wedding ceremonies. By 1891 at least 24,000 Nadars had gave their caste to the census enumerator as being kshatriya.[12]

See also

Swami Vivekananda Image result for Swami Vivekanandadescribed as the "mad house" that was the caste system of Kerala

Caste system in Kerala - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The caste system in Kerala differed from that found in the rest of India. .... so it has been described by Barendse as "an intricate dialectic of rights and duties". ... Swami Vivekananda, having observed that it represented a "mad house" of castes.

Ayyankali - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is part of the Reformation in Kerala series ... Caste system in Kerala ... and was described by Swami Vivekananda as a "mad house" of castes.===============================================

Malayali Memorial Mass Petition 1891 to Sree Moolam ThirunalTravancore king -sri moolam thirunal-1891


File:Raja Ravi Varma, Bharani Thirunal Rani Parvathi Bayi

 Portrait of Princess Bharani Thirunal Rani Parvathi Bayi. Painting also known by the name 'Reluctant Princess'. [covers for painting]Oil painting on canvas by Raja Ravi Varma.
File:Raja Ravi Varma, Bharani Thirunal Rani Parvathi Bayi.jpg
Image result for Portrait of Princess Bharani Thirunal Rani Parvathi Bayi. Painting also known by the name 'Reluctant Princess'. Oil painting on canvas by Raja Ravi Varma.
She died fighting `breast tax', her name lives on
Times of India - news-[history]
"One day , when the official tax collector (or the parvathiyar) repeatedly came to Nangeli's house to ensure she paid up her pending breast tax, .........
.Everyone in Cherthala knows the story of Nangeli who sacrificed her life to protest against the constant humiliation faced by lower caste women of that time. They had to pay this tax in order to have the right to cover their breasts.Larger the breasts, higher the tax.''......................................
The precise spot where Nangeli's hut had existed is still left untouched with a patch of greenery surrounding it, along with an adjoining pond. On either side of this site are two big bungalows.
the royal dynasty of Travancore  was governed and maintained by forcing the Avarna majority to work without wages (Uzhiyam Vela) and by barbarically collecting inhuman taxes like Tax for Head (Tala Karam) and Tax for an Avarna woman’s breast (Mula Karam).  The Avarna resistance movements against such dehumanizing taxes and caste slavery are illuminating episodes in the creation of modern Kerala.

Maharajas of Kingdom of Travancore

Image Name Reign
Marthanda Vurmah Maha Rajah.png Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma I 1729–1758
Dharmaraja of Travancore.jpg Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma I (Dharma Raja) 1758–1798
Bala Rama Vurmah Maha Rajah.png Avittom Thirunal Balarama Varma I 1798–1810
Sree Padmanabhasevini Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi.jpg Ayilyom Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1813 (Queen)
1813–1815 (Regent Queen)

Regent maharani Gowri Parvathi Bayi.jpg
Uthrittathi Thirunal Gowri Parvati Bayi 1815–1829 (Regent Queen)

Gowri Parvati Bayi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Uthrittathi Thirunal Gowri Parvathi Bayi (1802–1853) was the Regent of the Indian state of ... her sister Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi from 1815 till her regency was relinquished in favour of her nephew, Maharajah Swathi Thirunal, in 1829.
Swathi Thirunal of Travancore.jpg
Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma II 1829–1846
Maharajah of Travancore 1847.jpg Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma II 1846–1860
Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma of Travancore 1875.jpg Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma III 1860–1880
Visakham Thirunal of Travancore 1868.jpg Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma IV 1880–1885
Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma of Travancore.jpg Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma V 1885–1924
SethuLakshmiBayi.jpg Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi 1924–1931 (Regent Queen)
Sree Padmanabhadasa Maharaja Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.jpg Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma II 1931–1971

Titular Maharaja


Chief acts:-Gowri Parvati Bayi (Regent) 1815–1829[shows the British FORCED the queen to proclaim  some new  laws ;after the defeat of velu thampy Image result for velu thampiled revolt ]

Velu Thampi Dalawa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Velayudhan Chempakaraman Thampi (1765–1809) was the Dalawa or Prime Minister of the Indian kingdom of Travancore between 1802 and 1809 during the .The Veluthampi Revolt 1807-1809
Jun 8, 2013 - The Nair military of the King joined forces with Velu Thampi's march to Trivandrum. The alarmed Bala Varma immediately agreed to negotiate ... Maharani Gowri Parvati Bayi instituted several reforms in her state during her regency on behalf of her nephew. Some of the chief reforms were:
Regent maharani Gowri Parvathi Bayi.jpg
  • Christian ryots were freed from their services connected with Hindu religious ceremonies. They were also freed from attending to public work on Sundays with regard to their religious customs.
  • Restrictions put on some of the lower castes of Travancore regarding the wearing of ornaments of gold and silver were removed and they were permitted to adorn themselves as they pleased. Among the higher castes such as the Nairs, for the use of gold ornaments special licenses were to be obtained after paying an Adiyara Panam for the same. This was abolished.
  • The Maharani passed a proclamation allowing everyone in her kingdom to tile the roofs of their houses. This was an important proclamation in the context of Kerala, seeing that at a time powerful kings like the Zamorin did not even permit their vassal kings, such as the Rajah of Cochin to tile the roofs of their palaces.
  • Restrictions in terms of usage of certain types of houses were removed. Previously only castes till the Nairs were permitted residences known as Nalukettus
  •   A Nalukettu
  • after paying an Adiyara Panam. Buildings known as Ettu Kettus, 
  •  Image result for Ettu Kettu
    Ettukettu for sale in Vaikom ,Kerala ...
  • Panthrandu Kettus
 Image result for Panthrandu Kettu house
  •  etc. were subject to high taxes and required licences. Such Building taxes and payments were entirely abolished and members of all castes were permitted the usage of these buildings. Similarly the right to travel in palanquins,
  •  Image result for travel in palanquins kerala
  •  atop elephants
  •  Image result for travel i stop elephants kerala old painting
  •  and in carriages 
  •  Image result for carriages old kerala   Image result for carriages old kerala
  • was permitted to all who could afford the same.
  • Coffee cultivation was introduced into Travancore for the first time.
  • Vaccination was introduced towards the end of the reign of her sister Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi. This was popularised by her sister the Regent Maharani Gowri Parvati Bayi which was a great achievement for her in a state so orthodox as Travancore.
  • The Maharani permitted Christian Missionary enterprise in Travancore and even donated lands for the construction of churches in her state.
  • Following the rebellion of Velu Thampi Dalawa the armies of TravancoreImage result for armies of Travancore had been disbanded save for seven hundred men to guard the palaces and for state ceremonies under the supremacy of the British. The Maharani convinced the British Government of Madras to raise it to two thousand one hundred men in 1819.


Bill to forbid women from baring breasts proposed in US

NEW YORK: North Carolina state representatives have introduced a bill that would "clarify" state law to specifically forbid baring of women's breasts.

The proposed legislation, House Bill 34, will make it a Class H felony to bare "external organs of sex and of excretion, including the nipple, or any portion of the areola, of the human female breast," the Huffington Post reported.

According to WRAL in Raleigh, Representative Rayne Brown (R), who co-sponsored the bill, said that while it may seem frivolous and even funny, "there are communities across this state, there's local governments across this state, and also local law enforcement for whom this issue is really not a laughing matter."

Rayne Brown said that she was driven, in part, by Asheville's second annual topless protest and women's rally last August.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the event last year drew around a dozen women, who took off their shirts to "promote women's equality."

Depending on the intent of the exposure, women could face up to six months in prison for an errant areola, with "more mundane" exposure resulting in a 30-day sentence, an exemption has been given for breastfeeding.

Swiss Women Burn Bras, Walk Off Their Jobs Demanding Fairer Pay and Equality


Nov 17, 2010, 51 comments

Feb 24, 2012, 1 comment