Thursday, July 14, 2011

Toda Embroidery - A rare form of embroidery work

Toda is the tribal embroidery from the Southern State of Tamil Nadu which has passed on from generations. The Toda Community people inhabit the Nilgiris Tamil Nadu and are widely believed be the descendants of Greek who once came to India. They prefer to call themselves Tora, and speak Toda, a language belonging to the family of Dravidian languages.

Toda women have mastered embroidering 'Poothkulli', (Shawl) in the traditional Greek fashion by both men and women of the tribe. But there is a slight difference in the way men and women wear it.

Toda embroidery is a very unique and intricate form of embroidery unlike any others. The embroidery work is done on the reverse side of the cloth to produce a rich, embossed effect on the other side. Though both sides can be used for wearing, Todas use the rough under side of the fabric as the right side.

Wide bands in red and black colours are woven at the end of the nine yard long 'Poothkulli'. The base material, usually white in colour, is hand woven in single width and the embroidery is done by counting the threads.

Elements of nature such as the sun, moon, stars, flowers, snakes etc. are depicted on these embroidery.Buffalo horn is widely used motif. Conceding to peoples requests such embroidery works are also done on table top mats, bags, pouches and other articles.

`The art-work is practiced exclusively by the women folk of the tribe. Girls learn this art from their mothers at a very young age. We create cross-stitch designs by way of practice without tracing the pattern or referring any books. Heavily embroidered attires are worn during ceremonies and festivities, ' says Bhuva Devi from Tamil Nadu who is in Mysore for the first time, imparting training at Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahlaya (IGRMS) under the 'Do and Learn' series hosted at the Wellington House.

`The embroidery is done on a long, continuous length cloth. The beauty of the embroidery depends on the count of threads of the fabric and embroider. The embroidery is done on a white background, using red and black threads to provide a stunning visual effect. The cloth used for this the Toda cloth which is available in Tamil Nadu while wool is used for embroidery work,' adds Bhuvana Devi.

Speaking to Express 62-year-old Mangala who has come to learn this art said, `There is a lot of uniqueness in this embroidery and is quite interesting. This is the first time we are working in this type of embroidery and it involves plenty of delicate work.'

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