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Asian art

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Embroidered cover ('dharaniyos')

20th century


Unknown Artist


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 where the work was made

Saurashtra Gujarat India


20th century

Media category


Materials used

embroidered cotton; with pair of lions above central medallion; elephants and riders below; women churning butter below that; assorted scorpions


190.0 x 117.0 cm


Gift of Dr J. Masselos 2010


Not on display

Accession number