Traditional Garo Dress and Ornament
Ronald C. Sangma
‘DAKBEWAL’ is a commonly used Garo or A.chik word which is a combination of two Garo words. ‘DAKKA’ means to do, habituating in doing, continue to practicing. On the other hands ‘BEWAL’ means the rites and rituals, the rules and regulations, the custom, sum total of doings. So ‘DAKBEWAL’ elaborates its meaning the thinking, the deeds, the rites and rituals, the belief, the social systems, the customs, the doings of the fore-fathers of the Garos that is ‘culture’. Traditional dress and ornaments are part and parcel of the garos culture.
Traditional Dress and Ornament:
The Garos normally do not use many ornaments. In some occasion they used to clothing their traditional garo dress and ornament which is passed from generation to generation. The common ones are strings of beads and earrings worn both by men and women. The latter ornaments are considered to be very essential as they serve as guarantees of the safe journey of the soul to the other world, being offered to the spirit Nawang should he try to prevent the soul from going to the land of the dead.
Contact with people from outside has greatly modified the dress of the Garos both men and women affect dark clothes, either black or dark blue, and men may wear shorts instead of the traditional loin-cloth. Turbans are generally worn by both sexes. On festive occasions all the family heir-looms including the fine clothes and ornaments for men and girls are taken out.
The women folk of the garo community have more decorative than those of the menfolk. A few of their clothing are: Dokbanda/Dokmand, Doksari, Koping, A.npeng, Ganna/Dolajin, Tops, etc. Both men & women enjoy adoring themselves with varieties of dress and ornaments on the different occasions.
Dresses and Ornaments of the Garo:
Garo Female Dresses:
Ganna Dakmanda: One piece of wrapper worn on the waist upto the ankles
Ganna Kore Kinga: Petticoat
Chinani: Special Shawl with beads designs
Chroko ganna: Wrapper with shells and beads
Dodok: One-piece cloth worn across one arm
Re’king: Small petticoat
Kotip: Coloured Turban
Garo Female Ornaments:
Ripok Do-katchi: Necklace with stone gems and emerald. Necklaces made of long barrel shaped beads of carnelian or red glass while some are made out of brass or silver and are worn in special occasions.
Rikgitok: Necklace of coral beads of 10 lines
Rikgitchak: Necklace with various gems, ivory and metal bells
Ollongga/Nakongsi: Brass Earrings in bunches
Kabong/Kade: Head gear made of shells
Kade bibol: Special designed head gear
Asingsok/Riksil: Necklace with metal bells
Bato Rengki: Hair Band
Rikmatchu: Necklace Coral beads
Seng’ki: Shell beads worn over the waist. Waistband consisting of several rows of conch shells worn by women.
Siliting: Silver Chain with designs
Konal: Tight Silver necklace
Sis/Narikki: Earrings made of lead
Naderong: Designed beads- brass ring worn in the upper part of the ear
Nabal: Decorated beads worn on the ears
Sangong/Jaksan: Bangles of metal or Brass of different materials and sizes
Pilne: Decorated head gear with cock’s plume
Ki’chong: Special Bamboo comb
Garo Male Dresses:
Gantap: Wrapper worn above knee
Genji Gisim: Black T Shirt
Kotip Nokma: Silk Maroon turban of head man
Kadesil: Head gear
Pandra: Cloth worn criss cross over the body
Mending: Hair String for tying the hair
Do-me: Feathers of fowl worn on the head which speciﬁed the Garo people in a festive dress.
Sa.mil: Accompaniment of turban of Head man.
Garo Male Ornaments:
Tapa/Jaksil/Rikgitok: Brass armlets
Rikmatchu: Coral beads necklace
Konal: Tight silver necklace
Naderong: Designed earring of beads
Sisa/Narikki: Bunch of earrings made of lead
Milam: Sword double edged
Danil/Seppi: Shield made of rhino’s skin
Rang: Brass Gongs
This is not a complete list of all the traditional dresses and ornaments used by the A.chik mande. There will be a separate page dedicated to them later. Read more
Llewellyn R. Marak, Tura- A.chikrangni Gandingrang.
Department of Art and Culture, Government of Meghalaya.