Bharatanatyam Costumes for Men and Women

The Bharatanatyam costumes are one of the most elegant forms of dresses which adds to the beauty of the dance and represents the culture and tradition of India. Before we jump into various types of Bharatanatyam costumes, let’s take a quick look at Bharatanatyam dance form.

Bharatanatyam is an age-old dance form which speaks stories of the mythologies and is represented also in the temples and the courts of the king whereby this dance form got its emergence and later got a place in the whole of the Southern part of India.

Bharatanatyam Costume
Bharatanatyam Costume

The Bharatanatyam costumes are the various clothing and accessories which are worn by a dancer. Any costume for dance is often specially made with proper customization. The right costumes help make the movements of the dance easier and more comfortable to wear during dance performances. It also helps to bring out the aesthetic beauty of the dancer which the choreographer wants to show through the dancer’s dance moves.

Jump to Section:

Bharatanatyam Costumes History

The Bharatanatyam costumes are one of the most elegant forms of dresses which adds to the beauty of the dance and represents the culture and tradition of India. The dress which actually was worn during earlier times in the king’s courts were said not to cover most of the parts of the women’s body. The transformation in the dancer’s costumes happened in the nineteenth and twentieth century by the influence of Marie Camargo.

The costume or dress of the Bharatanatyam dance form usually represents the costume a bride wears in Tamil Nadu. Bharatanatyam was said to even have been performed as a part of the Devadasi dance form whereby women as servants used to perform the dance to please their masters. During their occasional performances in the King’s courts, they used to wear the costumes of Bharatanatyam.

Common Forms of Bharatanatyam Costumes


The two most popular Bharatanatyam costumes are in the skirt style and in the style of pyjama style. The material of the Bharatanatyam sarees is made of silk and are emphasised with the golden “zari” works. The pleats which are present in these costumes give a marvellous look ‘embroideries which depict the various mythological happenings in the Indian historical past.

These clothes are both beautiful and comfortable to wear as the dancer otherwise would face hardships to perform the dancing steps. The dancing dress is made beautiful to enhance the beauty of the dance during a performance. The small piece of cloth which tends to cover the blouse and upper portion of the women’s body known as the ‘choli’ tends to be of the same colour as that of the dress worn by the women during the performance.


The men’s dress is quite simplistic for the Bharatanatyam dance whereby the lower portion is covered by a pleated dhoti whereby the dance moves and its beauty are enriched. On the other hand, the upper portion of the body is covered using only pieces of jewellery and there is an absence of any dress for the upper portion of the men’s body.

Bharatanatyam Ankle Bells

The Bharatanatyam dance requires essentially the bells which are worn both by the men and the women in their dance. This is needed to keep a proper rhythm of their leg movements with the ‘Tala’ sounds. These dancers are judged by the sounds of their ankle bells which must move according to the music and in keep in track the footwork of the dancer in Bharatanatyam dance. They begin by wearing a two-row bell and then a three-row bell and it eventually increases with increase in the betterment and with better learning of the dance style.

These bells are considered sacred by the dancers and the teacher instructs him or her to always respect their ankle bells and keep them with care. These ankle bells also add to the beauty and music of the dance as for the audience the sound of this bells feel good to hear and also adds to the rhythm sense of the dancers or the performers of Bharatanatyam.

Jewellery in Bharatanatyam Dance form

There is an extravagance of jewellery which enhances the beauty to this dance form and specific names are given to the various pieces of jewellery which are worn by the dancers in the Bharatanatyam dance form.

The pieces of jewellery together are called ‘Temple jewellers’ which constitutes of the bangles, the necklaces, the wristlets.

The Bharatanatyam dance costume also requires the wearing of the buns and the making of plaits. The bun on the upper portion of the plaits is decorated with flowers and the forehead is decorated with that of the ‘tika’ and the ‘dot’. There is also an important headpiece called the ‘Thalaisaman’ and also wear the ‘Chandrasuryam’.

The dancers also wear the earrings and the neckpiece which adds to the attractiveness of the dance form. These neckpieces are decorated with peacock motifs and the floral motifs and are decorated with that of pearls which are red and green in colour. On the upper portion of both the arms, they tie ‘Venkies’ the plaits are decorated with a long snake-like ornament.  

Bharatanatyam Makeup

Make-ups are used in this dance form to the eyes which make it prominent so that the dancer’s eye movements are noticeable and also wear red dies on the tips of their fingers and toes to add beauty while dancing. These dances are done to make a connection of the dancer with that of the viewers and attract them towards the dance form.


The dance forms remain incomplete without a proper costume which represents the specific form of dance. The dance costume of Bharatanatyam is important to represent the culture and tradition of the dance form and to enhance the beauty of the movements of the hands, legs, expressions and also the body positions in this dance form.

This beautiful dance form is enriched with the extravagant and gorgeous costumes, the makeups, the jewellery and the ankle bells which form a part and parcel in this form of dance.

To learn more about Bharatanatyam, visit learn Bharatanatyam online

Get FREE Worksheets for your Child

Nursery to Grade 8. Math, English and Science Worksheets.

You can get all the existing worksheets together at Podium School App

Share with your friends

Podium Classes

Podium School provides Live and Interactive Chess and Creative Writing classes and free Maths and Science worksheets for students from Grade 1 to Grade 8.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *