Various Artistic Techniques
These cottons are printed with wooden blocks which have been
carved with different motifs. Some printed cottons are made with
16 steps (blocks), to produce intricate patterns of colour and
Tie-dye originated in India. The best-known method consists of
knotting and tying textiles with threads, then dipping the cloth in
dyes from the lightest colour to the darkest.
There are many styles and techniques of embroidery in India,
- Beadwork, called pachipati.
- Mirror-work, called shisha, found primarily in the state of
- Cowrie-shell embroidery, created by the Naga people of the
- Pictorial quilts, known as sujeni (a kind of quantha), found in
Bengal. These quilts are made of layers of old sari or dhoti fabric,
stitched together with coloured threads, which are usually taken from
the edges of sari pieces. Revived as a self-help project, sujeni
depicts daily life in the region of Bihar. One person does the
drawing, then a group of women fill in the colours.
- Quantha are quilted and embroidered shawls, coverlets and bags,
made by young women in Bengal and Bihar with layers of cloth from
The name kalamkari is derived from the word kalam which means
"pen" – the tool used in this craft. The kalamkari is a cloth
handpainted with vegetable dyes. Only four basic colors are used:
black, red, yellow and blue. In the Hindu tradition, kalamkari depict great epic narratives and iconic religious themes. Kalamkari produced by Muslim artists depict trees and geometric forms. Human
and animal forms are absent in the Muslim tradition.
Tanka is a Tibetan tradition of scroll-painting, depicting
meditational deities. Once completed, the tanka is mounted on silk
with a veil and a ribbon border.
- Phulkari literally means "garden in bloom" and is a form of
embroidery popular in the Punjab. It is created in a darning stitch,
using silk floss over counted threads on coarse homespun cotton.
Women of the Jat Sikh community have become well known for making
phulkaris featuring geometric designs and motifs from daily life.
These family heirlooms, used as shawls and bed- or floor-coverings,
become part of dowries and life-cycle ceremonies.
- In ikat weaving, the threads for the warp and/or weft are
carefully measured and tie-dyed before weaving, so that the pattern
only becomes apparent as the cloth is woven. Although most ikat
patterns are angular and repetitive, skilled ikat weavers can
produce rounded and asymetrical forms of great subtlety. Ikat is
practiced in many parts of India, but the best-known centres for
traditional ikat are in the state of Orissa in Eastern India.
- Dhurrie is a type of heavy, woven floor covering. Dhurries
usually feature simple geometric designs and tribal motifs.