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    Tharu Appliqué

    Map Academy

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    A form of appliqué practised by the women of the Tharu community from the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh is called tharu.

    Similar to katab in Gujarat and khatwa in Bihar, tharu appliqué involves sewing a large patch of cloth onto a base fabric with woollen thread, making incisions on this upper layer and hemming in those cuts to form shapes and patterns using the negative space. The appliquéd designs are geometrical and densely arranged, covering the ground layer almost entirely. The base fabric is usually a darker shade than the upper layer, which itself consists of several brightly coloured pieces of cloth that are used selectively to create vibrant patterns of angular lines and blocks across the textile’s surface. Shells, mirrors and other small objects are also stitched into the surface for ornamental value.

    Often used alongside kashida embroidery, tharu appliqué is applied to a variety of daily use items by the Tharu community, including bags, jackets, angia (a garment for women), topa (caps for children) and ghaghra-choli (skirts and blouses).


    Ghose, Ruchira. Mapping Indian Textiles: Approaches to Display and Storage of Indian Textiles in Public Museums. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 2017.

    Khanna, Antima. “Applique in India.” ANTIMA KHANNA. April 22, 2021.

    Maiti, Sameera. The Tharu: Their Arts and Crafts. New Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 2004.

    Maiti, Sameera. “Tribal Arts and Crafts: A Study among the Tharu of Uttar Pradesh.” Indian Anthropologist 31, no. 2 (2001): 69–74. Accessed July 22, 2021.

    Nandini11m. “A Stitch in Time: Part 2.” Mrittika. March 13, 2017.

    Ranjan, Aditi, and M. P. Ranjan. Handmade in India: Crafts of India. Ahmedabad: Mapin, 2007.

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