Pehran is a traditional dress that Kashmiris adorn. Some believe it was Mughal emperor Akbar who introduced the long garment in the Kashmir Valley, while others believe pheran came from the Persian travelers who invented the garment to protect themselves from the freezing cold during winters.
Pheran is a dress that really gives a feeling of slowness and one wants to prolong such feeling in these times. Pheran is a long garment that Kashmiri males, females and children wear. The traditional pheran is long one, below the knees. But modern variations of it are shorter and smarter. The garment reflects historical continuity of Kashmiri culture as they have not made any drastic changes in the garment. If a person from 15th century suddenly wakes up in the streets of Srinagar today, he would definitely identify pheran as something that belongs to his era.
In rural parts of the valley, pherans are worn around the year, made with cotton in the summer and tweed or wool in the winter.
The pheran is made of seven rectangular pieces of cloth, stitched together to form a robe. Its shapelessness allowed people to carry a kangri, an earthen pot filed with burning coals carried inside the pheran, to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures.
The pheran extends way under the knees to retain heat from the kangri in the winter, and its relaxed fit allows the tradition of sitting on the floor. In their modern form, pherans have been designed to look more like overcoats. New designs include a closer fit and varying designs of collars.
The beautiful traditional Kashmiri dress comprises of two robes placed on top of one another. The robes are usually embellished with intricate zari embroidery which gives it a rather majestic look. The Pherans worn by women usually have broad sleeves and are knee length. To make the entire loose tunic more fashionable, the women tie a piece of cloth known as ‘Lungi’ around the waist.
Traditionally, Pheran was worn in various bright colors like yellow, orange, bright greens and tomato red, however over a period of time several darker shades have become popular too including black, dark browns, dark greens and deeper shades of red. The neck area of the Pheran is the most elaborate one with fine Zari embroidery or Brocade work which reflects the artistic needlework practiced by the men and women of Kashmir. The sleeves have little detailing and the rest of the body of the Pheran is plain. In a sharp contrast to the Pherans worn by the Kashmiri women, the ones made for men come in simple designs and solid colors of Black, Gray, and off white.
Pheran is largely worn by Pakistani women of northern areas too.