Unknown Artist

Embroidered cover ('dharaniyos')

Not on display
Further information

Used to decorate the inside of the home, embroidered covers (called 'dharaniyos') from Kutch and Saurashtra in Gujarat were tucked over bundles of quilts and bedcovers. Made by the women of the household, the covers reflect a woman’s idealised universe, filled with lush foliage, auspicious symbols and magic diagrams ('yantras'). Compositions are structured around a vertical axis, often with vines that define borders, flowers in bud and flowering, peacocks and parrots, scorpions, elephants, and women churning curd. Sometimes there is a depiction of the Hindu god Krishna and mythic leogryphs (lion-like beasts). The symbols often have meanings: for example, the scorpion is a symbol of intense love, both devotional ('bhakti') and earthly; horses are a reference to Kalki, a manifestation ('avatar') of the Hindu god Vishnu; and women churning butter is a reference to Krishna as a child.

Some covers include the auspicious nine-pointed star (and variations of it) as well as circles and wheels that represent the equally auspicious sun. Mica mirrors enhance the play of textures, shapes and colours.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, October 2010.

Place of origin
Kutch, Gujarat, India
20th century
embroidered cotton; central medallion, with four medallions in corner; frieze; horses, and elephants
194.0 x 119.0 cm
Gift of Dr J. Masselos 2010
Accession number