Thursday, December 31, 2009


The Basics of Rangoli

I have received many requests for posting Rangoli designs as the auspicious month of Dhanurmasam has started from December 16th. Here let me first give an introduction.
Rangoli as is known as in Hindi or known as Muggu or Rangavalli in Telugu is the art of drawing beautiful designs on the walls or on the floor.  It is known as Alpana in Bengali, Kolam in Tamil. These designs have religious and ritualistic significance besides being decorative and adding beauty to the interiors and exteriors.
In India, where the houses were previously constructed with mud, the walls were coated with clay or mud or cow dung or a mixture of cow dung and mud. On this various designs were drawn using red soil or a paste made of rice flour or white lime powder.
In South India, in villages and towns the front yards are not paved even to this day. So in order to avoid the dust coming into the house, the yards are daily cleaned early in the morning and water is sprinkled. Mostly, cow dung mixed in water is sprinkled. Or a thick paste of cow dung and water is made an applied. This coat lasts for a  fortnight.This is an art. I learnt from one of the tribal women as a little girl. I got to practice it on their walls and yard.
After that designs are drawn using a white coarse powder made of crushed lime stone, rice flour or mixture of both. This helps in keeping the insects and bugs from entering into the house. Any way these designs are drawn everyday and are an indication that all is well in that house.If someone in the house passes away these designs are not drawn for the entire mourning period of ten days. On special occasions elaborate designs are drawn and are decorated with colours, flowers, coloured stones, rice husk or saw dust  coated with colours. But now we so many new forms like drawing in water, designs like paintings and so on.
As the Sun enters the Zodiac sign of Sagittarius, it is known as Dhanurmasam and during this period, Lord Vishnu is worshiped. It is believed that he comes down to earth and as a part of worshiping him, we get get up very early before sun rise and decorate our front yards with beautiful designs. It is believed that the Lord visits those whose houses are beautifully decorated. Actually while drawing these designs Lords name is chanted.This starts around 14th to 16th of December and culminates with the celebration of Sankranthi festival in January 14th to 16th.
During this whole one month, Cow dung is made into small pyramid shapes and decorated with turmeric, vermilion, yellow Pumpkin flowers or Marigold . One big one(considered as (Mother Gowri-the Goddess who is worshiped for happy married life by the women) with several small ones are made and placed in the center of these decorations. Little girls and young maidens in the neighbor hood are invited and they pray to the Goddess go round it singing beautiful songs, asking for a good husband and happy and prosperous  married life. These songs contain lot of folklore. The next day these are removed and patted on to the walls to form the cow dung cakes and sun dried. These are used as fuel and cooking a sweet rice pudding (on Ratha Saptami -a festival which comes after Sankranti) and offered to Sun God. Cow dung cakes are still used as fuel in many villages in India Its environmental friendly.
During this holy month women and young ladies compete with each other to draw the best of designs in front of their houses. These days competitions are also being held across our state and also many magazines and news papers carry designs daily contributed by the readers. Some special designs are drawn during this period. This I will discuss as I post the designs. I will be posting designs from now on.


The designs contain natural subjects like flowers, fruits, vegetables, birds animals and so on apart from the geometric shapes like, dots, lines, circles, squares and triangle etc  . The most popular figures are lotus, peacocks, swans, ducks, rabbits, stars, sun, moon, butterflies, deers, elephants, horses, conch shells, feet of Goddess Lakshmi, fishes and many more. Rangoli is basically of two types;
  • Free hand drawings using lines etc
  • Designs drawn using dots.
 This is the powder with which the designs are drawn.
This is how the powder is held between thumb and forefinger, and line is drawn.The thinner and neater the line, the skilled the artist is.

Some people hold the powder like this and draw two/three lines simultaneously. Its very difficult. I could not master it.

Here are some frequently designs drawn directly or by using lines. 
This is the most simplest design we draw quite frequently. 

 This is the simple form. I think this is known as Star of David in West.  Variants of this are as follows....

    Hope  you liked them will post some more next time.

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    Merry Christmas

    Wish you all a very Merry Christmas friends. Enjoy the holiday season.
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    Friday, December 18, 2009


     Brooch is a piece of jewelery used to enhance the beauty of a plain or simple garment. It is usually used by pinning it on the dress. In India we use brooches pinned to our saris. I am so very fond of brooches and collect them when ever I can and wear them on special occasions.
    Brooches are made of metals like gold, silver and gems. or other metals and semi precious stones. These days, multi-coloured ones and stone brooches are quite in thing. Younger generation may not much care for it when they wear modern attires. But when one wears saris it enhances the beauty especially if the saris are plain ones.
    Any way here are some from my collection....
    This is a bunch of purple flowers, made in Indonesia. Its gold plated. For the past six years I have been owning this and it still retains its shine and beauty.
     These are pink coloured stones. Reminds me of pomegranate seeds.
               Peacock Feather Brooch
      This is one of my favourites -shaped in peacock stones a bit rare shade in blue...
    Peacock Feather Brooch  
    Now this is a smaller one when compared to the above but with emerald green stones...
                             Swan Brooch 
    Now here comes my pink swan...I love and white coloured stones on white metal...
                         Dolphin Brooch 
    This little one is a dolphin...I love dolphins great friendly creatures..any wonder I love to wear it?
                           Peacock Brooch
    Here is a multi coloured peacock...The coloured work is known as Meenakari..that is inlay of enamel or art of decorating metal with enamel.

    Photographing them was very difficult since, they were very shiny. But somehow I did it. That is why some of the pictures may not be crystal clear.

    Hmm I do have some more but will share them some other time.....

    Do leave your comments...

    Applique Work

    I am back with another sari. Again it is from Bengal. It is a pink cotton sari.. The cottons of Bengal are very famous. Especially the saris. This one I am going to show is light pink colour with a light green border. It has borders on both sides. Actually this makes any sari a bit heavy. Therefore I don't prefer a sari with borders on both sides. Moreover when we wear a sari the top side border-most of it is tucked in and is not visible. Only one forth is visible. That is why some saris have only that much border on the topside where it is visible.

    Any way you can see that the border is woven with silk threads.

    You can see the chain stitch done by the Aari-known as Aari work. Aari is a needle like the one used by the shoemakers, for stitching the leather. It is known as Tambour work. This way its very easy to embroider chain stitch and fast too. The stitch is even. Here multi coloured silk floss has been used for the stitch.

    Here you can see the most of the sari has applique work-tiny squares of dark blue coloured cotton ikkat fabric . You can see that the squares have been edged with tambour work of multi coloured floss.

    Here is the close up of the appliqued square.

    Here is the Pallu with the tambour work. You can see the green stripes woven on  the Pallu.

    But here is the grand attraction. The huge piece appliqued on to the center of the Pallu. Note the center where the technique of "Reverse Applique" has been used.

    Here is a closer look

    Here you can see the tambour work on the rest of the Pallu.

    So that was the applique work on cotton sari from Bengal. How do you like it?

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Classic Motifs

    I love to look at fabrics, flowers, vegetables and fruits when I go out for window shopping. Basically I like the colours and shapes. They inspire me a lot, sometimes just kick the creative thoughts in me. That is why I volunteer for shopping. But then when I am in a shop amongst lots of fabric, I just love it. I have some of my favorite shops, which I visit regularly, to see what is new. I just like to browse on my own, feeling touching, just looking at the colurs, textures and then when I come across something new or unique, my creative juices start flowing.

    I used to design my and my sisters, clothes. But now I have restrict myself to my clothes. Of coarse, I design my and my moms saris and get them specially weaved. I just love experimenting with different colours, shapes, motifs and combination of various colours.

    Recently I happened to come across this... a very rare print of birds on fabric. I think this feels like a very fine cotton. It is. The colour combination was very good. I think it gave it a very antique and royal look, Something out of the bygone era? The Raj? I don't know whether I have put it correctly or not.

    My mom calls it English print. But the flowers, birds and the vines and the leaves all look like the ones that have been carved out on the pillars of Indian temples.

    But any ways here it is.. I want to make tunic out of it a long one with full sleeves and Nehru collar...How will it look? any suggestions? Any embellishments needed like high lighting with gold thread or something like that?

    Please do leave your comments. I am a bit confused on that....

    This is how it looks...

    Here is the bird in flight

    Here is another bird sitting on a branch. These birds attracted me in the first place.

    This is one classic motif. Reminds me of Pomegranate and Moghuls. Is that what it is? Any guesses?

    Now here is the flower.

    Should I high light these motifs with ordinary floos, silk floss or then gold thread? Whether contrasting or same colored floss?  What do you say? Please do leave your suggestions....

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    My Friend

    Friends I would like you to meet one of my friends...a stray dog.

    I seem to befriend animals and birds easily than humans. As a child when I used to read the fairy tales, wherein it was mentioned that the handsome Prince had so many skills including the skill of understanding and able to converse with birds and animals in their language, I used to be so fascinated. But later on when I had  my own pets I understood how easy it was. One just had to have a kind and compassionate heart. How do mothers understand what their babies want?

    Mind you-animals, birds and children have the instinct to recognise good human beings. One cannot fool them. They just become friends quickly with such individuals. Its no joke.

    Now here is the stray which became my friend.I don't remember how we met or became friends. Every day early in the morning when I sweep and clean my front yard, she used to come on dot and persuade me to play with it. I used to oblige her or else she would not budge an inch from my front door. After playing for ten minutes or so, she used to go and sleep under the cars parked in the road.

    I used to feed her when ever I could. But she  wasn't much interested in the vegetarian fare I used to give her accept for milk. She used to be so thin, I tried my level best to feed her. But no, she  would not accept much. She was so playful and energetic. One more thing was the moment I used to leave for my work she used suddenly appear from no where and give me a send off.

    Seeing me playing with her, the children of my street used to play too. For she was very friendly and used to protect them from any outsiders. Here are the photos which I managed to click once with her litter. But she no more now and we don't know what happened to her litter. I feel its loss but then that's the way of life....

    A proud mama with her litter
     Always playful especially with her kids
    I am fond of kids, even when they are little puppies or kittens or even piglets.....So cute...

    Feeding her little ones standing at my door step.

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Batik Once Again

    I just love Batik. So every time I go shopping though I think this time I don't want to buy cottons. But I do end up buying cottons and Batiks or Kalamkaris and the likes. First of all Love natural fibers, be it Khadi (hand spun), or jute or cottons or silks. Secondly I do like hand made products, be it Batiks or Kalamkaris or block prints. I have a very special liking for Batiks though. They fascinate me like the Kalamkaris.

    This is a pink coloured fabric that I bought for my Kurtha or tunic. But haven't had the time to stitch it.

    I love the slanted lines of the design very simple but cool. I also love this shade of pink.

    This is a very unique combination of brown with light yellow and coral orange or should I say pinkish orange? The colour has not been properly shown in the picture. I wonder why? Any way this fabric I am going to use for the pants and teem it with a Coral coloured Tunic. All these I need to sew. I don't when I will the time for it?

    Here is the matching dupatta or the stole to go with the dress. Note the bead embroidery on the edges of the stole. These days beads or some other sort of material is used as danglers from the edges of the sari or dupattas.
    Now here is a sari which is one of my favourites. This is from Bengal. It is very famous for its great Batiks.This one is done on a very fine cotton known as Mull or rather Muslin. The cloth is very soft and feels like satin. This is the Pallu, the portion of sari which draped over the shoulder. The designs on Pallu of the Sari is one of the main attractions for the sari apart from the design on the borders and the main sari itself. Many a time we are tempted to buy the sari by the design on its pallu. Any way here it is. You can see two Hamsa-the traditional swan motifs with their long tails.This is surrounded by the floral vines. I love the combination white and black with a little red and yellow.

    This is how the sari looks. That is the entire sari has the design of the swans, and flowers.

    This is the border on both sides of the sari.

    Another look at the swans on the pallu.

    A closer look of the swans.

    A closer Look at the flowers on the borders.

    So isn't it beautiful? And that too for a very measly sum. I bought it cheap considering the amount of work involved in its creation.