Topic: Un-gender: Indian masculine expression of 21st century traces to 200 CE.


India’s gender neutral expression lasted most of its history until 20th century. Masculine and feminine inseparable in aesthetics, ‘form’ and ‘function’ went together. Gender-changing Gods, garments draping all sizes, weapons embellished like jewelry, jewelry shared between all genders. Colonisation brought strictures, ‘form’ became feminine and ‘function’, masculine. Fluid dhoti lost to the tailored trouser, a symbol of class, education, modernity.

Masculine expression is recontextualizing itself, bearing similarities with ancient Indian ‘form’. 21st century men’s grooming is akin to 200CE Kamasutra’s men.

Here is an attempt to explore how masculine expression has been resemiotized through a rough classification of timeline – pre-colonisation, colonial & 20th century, and the 21st century today.