telia rumal (Turban Cloth)

About this object

History of use

This cloth comes from the famous dying and weaving villages along the coast of the State of Andhra Pradesh in South India. It is called a “telia rumal” (or literally “oil handkerchief”) in reference to the oily dyes used in its manufacture. It is of a type of work that has for centuries been exported from the SE coast of India to West Africa for use in wedding and other ceremonies among groups there. Although made as a turban in its local context, such cloths are used in Africa to make special ritual enclosures and canopies. The colours of these cloths are always red black and white and the extraordinary and now rarely produced double ikat design in this case includes phonographs, biplanes, sailboats, fish and rotary telephone dials. The archaic patterns have also survived in the repertoire of the artist.


Purchased by the collector at the DakshinaChitra museum (related to the Madras Craft Foundation) in Muttukadu, near Chennai.

Specific techniques

Double ikat dye technique used in weaving; madder root used for red dye; black also a vegetable dye.

Physical description

Double-ikat rumal. Dark reddish purple, pink and black cloth. Long rectangular area in the centre has images of phonographs, biplanes, sailboats, fish and rotary phones woven into it, in squares.