India is country which has a rich culture, tradition, art music, literature, and sculpture and exhibit university in diversity through various charms of festivals, rituals, art music, costume and languages. Embroidery is no exception. The Vedic literature of 5000 B.C. makes reference to embroidery work. The remains of Mohenjodaro of the Indus valley civilization reveal embroidery work as a manifestation of the artistic creativity of the people there. It is observed from ancient time, even the primitive man did decorate them self through bodily decoration. Primitive man worshipped nature and it was one of the sources of inspiration from which he picked up motifs of floral, bird and animal kingdom available geographically. The emperors and the kings of different periods used embroidery work as a symbol of wealth and status. Even today also the form of this art prevails. Embroidery encompasses many different types of fabric decoration, some so beautiful and detailed that it is difficult to believe that a needle and thread can create them.

India is world famous for its rich heritage and traditional textiles, magnificent workmanship. It is symbol to identify the groups of people religion wise, culture wise and designates the role, rank and community at large. Each state in the country is unique by itself as far as textiles and embroidery is concerned. This is mainly because of the difference in the made of the people, availability of the indigenous textile material, ground fabric, influence of ecology, custom, festival, deity, occupation, skills, various motifs, technique of stitch and threads. Today embroidery as a form of art is universal. The impact of for foreign influences figuratively speaking, the globalization of the embroidery art is manifested at a level of technical details.

Toda Embroidery

Indian culture, art and traditions depict 'Diversity and Yet University'. In India there are various state having their own particular embroidery. One of which is Tamil Nadu famous for various embroidery and arts. The southern parts of Tamil Nadu are surrounded by very beautiful Nilgiri Hills. Within these hills lives a Tribal Community called Todu. They are expert in embroidery called Toda which is famous in the world. It is distinct style of embroidery locally called Pugur, which means flower. This fine and intricate embroidery is done by tribal men and women on shawls. The shawl adorned with the Toda embroidery is called Poothkuli. This particular shawl has alternate red and black stripes at the gap of six inches. The embroidery is done on the stripes of red and black colour. Motifs are worked, by counting the threads.

The embroidery is so fine that it looks like weaving. Embroidery is reversible and Todas use the rougher under side of the fabric as the right side. This embroidery is carried from one generation to other generation. The embroidery is basically on cotton fabric by counting the thread by counting the thread.


The various facts of this embroidery are-

Fabric Used- Cotton fabric is used to do toda embroidery. The fabric should be loosely woven because the embroidery is done by counting the weaves.

Colours-Colour of the ground fabric is off- white. The colours of the threads are red and black.

Motifs- Basically all the traditional embroidery inspiration is taken from nature, day to day life activities, mythological stories and reflects the colours of flaura and fauna of that particular region. The embroidery of the particular region tells the story of the particular region. In this case also the motifs are inspired from local surrounding. Buffalo horn is the most important motif because the tribals worship buffalo. Other motifs used are Izhadvinpuguti, which is a motif named after their priest, mettvi kanpugur is a box. Sun, Moon, stars, flowers, snakes and rabbit are the other motifs.

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Along with the famous toda shawls various other items made from this embroidery are traditional drapes, puthukulis, dupattas and Table cloth, stoles, kurtis, pyjamas, skirts, pants, salwar-kurta etc.

To sum up embroidery is basically an expression of beauty, aesthetics which an artist portrays with a needle and thread. This tribal embroidery of Tamil Nadu is very distinctive and it should be preserved as this embroidery is dyeing. We should use this embroidery in different articles as purse, pouches and retail it in International and national market. In this way we can revive and save the rich cultural heritage India.


  1. http://summersofindia
  3. Shrikant, Usha-Designs For Lifetime
  4. Shrikant, Usha-Ethnic Embroidery of India
  5. Naik, D. Shailja- Traditional Embroideries of India

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The author is a Research Scholar and Senior Faculty at Satyam Fashion Institute