Saturday, 8 July 2023

Decoding the Hidden Meanings of the Indian Sari as a status symbol

We will first define and explain the vocabulary to explain the hidden meanings behind symbols. 

The study of signs and symbols and their meanings and interpretations is called Semiotics, also known as semiology . It is a field of study that focuses on understanding how communication occurs through various signs and symbols, including words, images, gestures, sounds, and objects. Semiotics examines the ways in which these signs and symbols are used to convey meaning, create understanding, and influence human behavior and perception.

At its core, semiotics explores the relationship between signs, the objects or concepts they represent, and the individuals or communities who interpret them. Signs can be divided into three main components:

Signifier: This refers to the physical form or representation of a sign, such as a word, an image, or a gesture.

Signified: This represents the concept or meaning associated with the signifier. It is the mental representation or idea evoked by the sign.

Interpretant: The interpretant refers to the understanding or interpretation that arises in the mind of the individual who encounters the sign. It involves making connections between the signifier and the signified.

Semiotics analyzes how signs function within different contexts, cultures, and social systems. It explores how signs are used to convey meaning, influence perception, and shape cultural identities. Semiotic analysis involves examining the relationships between signs, decoding their meanings, and understanding how they contribute to broader cultural and social systems of communication.

In summary, semiotics is a discipline that investigates the complex ways in which signs and symbols operate, and how they shape our understanding of the world and our interactions within it. It provides a framework for studying and interpreting the multifaceted nature of communication and the processes through which meaning is created and shared.

Having got a look at the structure to study symbols, lets turn our attention to sarees:

The Indian sari holds a prominent position within the Indian fashion system, representing a rich cultural heritage and an integral part of women's wear, particularly among lower-income groups. There is a  research study that focuses on the semiotics of the sari, delving into its meaning, symbolism, latent significance, and evolution. By examining the elements that influenced its development, this study aims to shed light on the semiotic significance of the Indian sari in relation to the changing status of lower-income group women in society.

The Indian sari serves as a powerful visual symbol that carries deep cultural and social meanings. By analyzing its evolving styles and trends, we gain insights into the shifting dynamics of Indian society, particularly for women from lower-income backgrounds. This research aims to uncover the hidden messages conveyed through the sari, deciphering its impact on the identity and empowerment of lower-income women.

Findings of the study
In understanding the social significance of the Indian sari, it is crucial to examine the shopping patterns and preferences of different socio-economic groups. The research reveals that lower-income women predominantly favor local shops and markets for purchasing their sarees. Exhibitions and malls are not as popular among this group. Additionally, online shopping and TV purchases are not widely adopted among lower-income women, contrasting with the middle and upper classes who embrace both "brick and click" saree shopping options.

The sari's semiotic significance is deeply intertwined with the evolving status of lower-income women in society. As their economic and social circumstances shift, so does their relationship with this iconic garment. The study highlights that the sari serves as a marker of tradition and identity for lower-income women, allowing them to assert their cultural roots and maintain a connection with their heritage. However, as socio-economic barriers gradually diminish, middle and upper-class women have embraced new saree shopping avenues, influenced by the growing accessibility and convenience of online shopping.


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