We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Embroidered cover ('dharaniyos')

20th century


Unknown Artist

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Kutch Gujarat India
    20th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    embroidered cotton; medallion upper part; parrots and containers below
    170.0 x 86.0 cm
    Gift of Dr Jim Masselos 2010
    Not on display
    Accession number
  • About

    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.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication