Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making a pair of Jodphurs

A Pair of Jodphurs
Hallo my precious darlings, I hope this blog finds you well. Let me take you on a journey, I promise it will be interesting, and that you will learn something that you did not know before. It all started with a feeling: 'What I wouldn't do, to need a pair of jopdhurs again".

During my teenage year I used to hunt with the Bay of Plenty Hunt Club. We hunted over the back blocks of farms in the Bay. In this photo I am standing with my Auntie Leonie in front of my Grandparent's house. My Grand parents are standing on the front porch, but unfortunately you do not see them very well in this photograph. I used to love dressing for the hunt, and I remember wishing I had a pair of the elegant leather tan topped boots like Leonie used to wear. We would tie our cravats, and pin them in place with tie pins of gold shaped to look like horse shoes or riding crops. Finally a small bunch of violets or lilly of the valley was pinned onto the lapel of our jacket and we were ready for the hunt.

Hunting in the winter, it was often wet, grey and cold. One of the nicest things to have was a small flask of rum and ginger wine, warming and giving confidence for the chase.

Here I am and finally I had got myself a pair of long black boots. They looked the part but they were plastic, I never got my leather riding boots. I remember hauling these off at the end of the day, after the Hunt breakfast, the long drive home and putting the horses back in the paddock.

I found this photo a while ago while looking for a photo to send to Leonie who was living in England. When I saw the photo again it reminded me of the person I used to be, and that reminded me of the person that I am. It was a good feeling and it strengthened me. This may have been the reason why I wanted to make myself a pair of jodphurs.

So my darlings I thought you might like to know a little of the history of this fascinating garment. The history of jodphurs is intertwined with the history of polo, and of course horses and wealth. Whilst known as the Game of Kings, women were also welcomed. There is a record of the Queen and her ladies, of the Court of King Khosrow II, playing a game against the King and his Courtiers in the 6th century AD. I would love to travel back in time and be an observer at that game. Imagine what Queen Shirin wore, red silk jodphurs perhaps. What a wonderful future project, to design the outfit Queen Shirin would have worn that day, but I digress.

Chinese courtiers playing a game of polo. Polo spread from China where it was first played 2500 years ago to Persia.

And by the 16th century, the Emperor Babur had establishedit in India. The game came down into India along with various Islamic invasions and was played particularly in the North, which is now Rajasthan. The Rajputs are credited with establishing rules, a polo stick and use of a ball. Since the game required superbly trained and healthy horses, only nobles and aristocrats who could afford to maintain stables normally played it.

In the 1850s, British tea planters discovered the game in Manipur (Munipoor) on the Burmese border with India. They founded the world’s first polo club at Silchar, west of Manipur.

Lt.Gen. HH Maharajah Bahadur Sir Pratap Singh (of Idar) (1845-1922)

Around 1890 Maharaja Sir Pratap Singh of Jodhpur started wearing riding breeches tailored for the game. These were cut in a wing-shape and had leather patches between the knees. They became known as "Jodhpurs" and were worn by all polo players within a very short time. Their popularity was probably aided by the fact that the Jodhpur Polo team was invincible at the time.

British Officer, 10th Hussars, Afghanistan, 1878

It was due to the British military officers who served in India, that the game of polo, and jodphurs along with it, finally made their way over to England in the 1860's. In 1869, Edward 'Chicken' Hartopp of the 10th Hussars organised the first game known as 'hockey on horseback' on Hounslow Heath and after some codification of the rules, polo clubs spread across Western Europe from England.

It was this image that really inspired me to want to make myself a pair of Jodphurs, I am not sure of the date but it is after WWI probably the 1920's. The image is of the Australian Polo Team, and I thought they looked so stylish in their jodphurs I wanted to have a pair of my own. Look at the photo on the left of the Indian gentleman also kitted out in jodphurs, having just shot a tiger. How times have changed, but his did not deminish my love of the jodphur.

In the 1920's women adopted men's riding breeches and sat astride horses (and even played the occasional Polo game) and so wore Jodhpurs. The Jodhpurs are now "de rigueur" riding garb. They are cut full at the hips, very tight fitting from knee to ankle, ending in a cuff with a strap under the instep.
So I drew a design for a pair of jodphurs.

Yes there would be plenty of room for my butt in these breeches.

So I set to work sewing and here they are the finished jodphurs. A bit silly I guess,but hey it was fun.


  1. oh my goodness mum are you actually considering wearing jodphurs??? Hahaha goodness! A nice read :) My flatmate read this with me and found it very informative :P
    Particularly the game of polo being played in Persia and India!! Wow!

    Thanks for the read :) Post a comment on here and let me know if you actually plan on wearing jodphurs... Haha maybe you can pull it off :P

  2. So totally do. have made some changes to the blog, have a quick look. I will add some more when I get Dad to take a photo of me wearing my jodphurs- yes i have just about finished them. They are pretty cool.

  3. haha I can't wait to see them :D

  4. I love the jodphurs and your story and research about them. Surprisingly I think they look slimming. You look great in them ...... now where did that horse go? O well with a whip as an accessory you could wear them anywhere or ride whatever you wanted to.