The jama is a jacket that was worn by men in India following its introduction by Mogul, or Muslim, invaders in the sixteenth century C.E. , and which influenced later menswear. The jama resembles sewn jackets worn in ancient Persia, modern-day Iran. The jama is identified by its long sleeves, tight-fitting chest, or bodice, tie closures at the side, and flared skirt. While the sleeves and chest are similar in the many variations of the jama, the jacket closures and the length and flare of the skirt have changed over time. Early versions of the jama, for example, had skirts that reached to mid thigh and flared slightly at the ends. By the eighteenth century, however, jama had long flowing skirts that touched the floor. The jacket tie closures were modified by the different religious groups in India. Muslims tied the jama at the right armpit from the sixteenth century forward, while Hindus tied their jamas on the left. Mogul rulers insisted that Hindus and Muslims continued this custom in order to distinguish themselves from each other.
The jama is the forerunner of other jackets that became popular in India. The influence of British styles in the eighteenth century pushed the jama out of fashion. The jacket was replaced by the angarkha and the choga, which were both gradually replaced by the chapkanm, achkan, and shervani in the nineteenth century. These later styles of jacket were slim fitting and closed with buttons.
Goswamy, B. N., and Kalyan Krishna. Indian Costume in the Collection of the Calico Museum of Textiles. Ahmedabad, India: D. S. Mehta, 1993.
Kumar, Ritu. Costumes and Textiles of Royal India. London, England: Christies Books, 1999.
[ See also Volume 5, 1961–79: Nehru Jacket ]