dharaniya (Wall Hanging)

About this object

History of use

In Rabari communities, every bride had to have at least three appliquéd pieces in her trousseau. Many appliquéd pieces are now produced for the commercial market, as they are quicker and easier to make than embroidered pieces. No examples of appliqué work exists before the 19th century; the technique is thought to have been introduced through trade with Europe or the Middle East. Katab (a word that is believed to have been derived from the English “cut out”) is a technique of patchwork developed by the tailor community of Saurastra. It is also used by the Rabaris of Kutch. This method of producing decorative textiles is both easier and quicker than embroidery and is therefore used to produce many of the textiles that are made especially for the market.


Purchased by Milton and Beverly Israel in the Kutch region, Jaipur or Delhi.

Cultural context

Primarily for domestic use, although the loops that have been sewn along the edges may suggest that this hanging was meant to be used as a canopy, perhaps for a wedding or other special occasion. Alternately, it could be used to cover piles of quilts in the living quarters.

Physical description

Rectangular, appliquéd wall hanging or canopy, featuring repeated motifs formed from pieces of grey, red, yellow and tan cotton textile which have been cut, the edges turned under and slip-stitched down onto an off-white cotton textile background. In the large central field, there are 28 identically shaped square motifs, measuring approximately 20 cm x 20 cm, with stylized floral centres, arranged in a multicoloured checkerboard pattern. Around the edges there is an appliquéd border of abstracted elephant motifs on all four sides, edged with two rows of red and grey sawtooth designs. Small loops of cotton string are spaced at the corners and at intervals along the edges.