It is a dye obtained from the roots of Indian Mulberry.


A long-sleeved, knee-length coat or tunic worn by men in South Asia. It is usually close-fitting and round collared.


A technique of printing both sides of a fabric, practised extensively in Gujarat. According to legends, the art of Ajrakh printing travelled to Kutch in Gujarat from Sindh, where it was originally practised some four centuries ago.


Anything that clothes or decorates, especially an outerwear. It is also used to refer to formal clothing.


A long and narrow fabric, mostly made of cotton. It has a coarse texture and is cheaper than the finer varieties of cotton.

Bagh printing

A type of block printing from Madhya Pradesh.


After ginning, cotton lint is compressed and tied to make packages known as bales. Bales are made for commercial purposes like storage, shipping or sale.

Baluchari saree

Detailed, exquisite sarees that are believed to be originally made centuries ago in a village called Baluchar in Murshidabad.


A type of traditional Indian textile that is decorated using the tie and dye method. The fabric is tied at different points using a thread and dyed thereafter, resulting in the creation of different coloured patterns.


Similar to Bandhani fabric, Bandhej is a tie and dye technique of decorating fabrics. It is popular for its fine resist dots and intricate designs. Traditionally, bandhani is done on silk, cotton and wool.


Women who are exclusively engaged in tying of fabric for Leheriya resist-dyeing in Rajasthan.


A technique of wax-resist dyeing. Wax is applied on to required areas before the fabric is dyed. Upon removal of the wax, the areas formerly covered by it remain undyed while the rest of the fabric takes the colour of the dye.

Bawan Buti

A handloom cotton sari traditionally woven in Bihar. It is well-known for the fifty two (bawan) miniature motifs (buti) on the fabric.


A step in the processing of textiles. Bleaching is done to obtain a white colour of the textiles in order to make it suitable for further treatment. The bleached textile can be printed or painted as per the requirements.


The mixing together of different types of fibres to produce yarn. It is one of the steps in the manufacturing of fabric from fibre.

Block printing

A method of decorating textiles. Wooden blocks with motifs carved on them are used to stamp designs on the fabric. It is a time-consuming process carried out manually by the artisan.


The interlacing of three or more yarns to form a complex pattern. Braiding may be done to make bags, rugs and the like. It is also used to create decorative patterns on the borders of garments.


Elaborately designed fabric, mostly silk, embroidered with silver or golden threads. Brocades are expensive, decorated intricately and have raised patterns.


An important ornamental motif used in fabrics. It is teardrop, almond or pine shaped with a curving upper end. Among others, buta motif was used extensively on Kashmiri shawls since the 16th century. Buta continues to be a commonly used motif on decorated fabrics.


A work of embroidery from Goa. It is usually done on a cotton, velvet or a satin cloth.


Plain, woven cotton, coarser than muslin. These are often unfinished and unbleached, making them more affordable for many. Different types of designs are printed on calicoes.


Disentangling, separating and cleaning individual fibres. It is a part of the complete process of textile manufacturing. Fibres are brushed and made smooth in this step, and are arranged in a parallel manner thereafter.

Chamba Rumal

A bright, embroidered handkerchief that flourished under the rulers of the Chamba kingdom in Himachal Pradesh. It is embroidered using the double satin stitch, ensuring a unity of designs on both sides.


A light weight fabric produced by a particular traditional weaving technique. It has silk warp and cotton weft, and the borders are mostly of zari. Chanderi fabrics are lustrous yet airy.


Hindi term for a spinning wheel. It is a tool for processing fibre into yarn. It is operated manually.


It is a blouse which is usually worn with sarees and Lehenga (skirt) in India.


Coarse cotton with printed or painted designs, especially floral patterns. It is used for garments, curtains, hangings etc. Indian chintz was in heavy demand in Europe during the 18th-19th centuries.


This is a thread embroidery in which thick white coloured thread is embroidered on a white fabric. White thread is also used over light coloured fabrics. The motifs are usually flowers, creepers and lace-like patterns.


Embroidered cloaks worn by men in the royal courts of the Mughal times. Chogas are loose fitting upper garments, open in the front.

Chokla Wool

Wool of the breed of sheep by the same name. Chokla is fine quality carpet wool produced mostly in the regions in and around Rajasthan.


A long scarf. It is also used as an alternative name for dupatta.


A material produced by weaving, knitting or felting synthetic or natural fibres. It is used for making garments, draperies and many other items.


A step in the process of textile manufacture. Combing refers to the straightening of fibres and removal of shorter fibres. It prepares the carded fibre to enter the next step of spinning.

Composite Mill

Mills where spinning, weaving and processing of textiles take place. These mills cover multiple steps of textile production, unlike mills where only particular processes are carried out, for instance, spinning mills. Composite mills produce both yarns and fabric.


A thin fabric with a crumpled appearance. Crepe fabric can be made of silk, cotton and other materials. It is comfortable, crisp and light.

Crompton Mule Spindle

Spinning mule invented by Samuel Crompton in 1779. It allowed huge quantities of cotton to be spun at the same time, as one person could now operate several spindles together using the machine.


Heavy, reversible fabric with patterns woven on it. It is usually used for upholstery. Damask fabrics mostly have satin weaves, but they are also produced using the plain and twill weaves.


Strong, warp-faced cotton textile, usually blue in colour. It has a twill weave and is mostly used for the production of jeans.


Hindi term for cotton carding.


A traditional wrapper of the Bodo women of Assam. This brightly coloured (traditionally yellow) garment has beautiful motifs with threads of different hues on it.

Double Ikat

A technique of making fabric, where the warp and the weft are resist-dyed before weaving. It is a complex and time consuming process that creates beautiful patterns on the fabrics produced.


Fabric coverings, hangings etc. arranged in loose folds. Draperies are generally heavy and decorative.


A length of cloth used as a scarf, put over the shoulders and head. Dupattas are mostly used by women in South Asia.


A weft faced textile, generally used as a rug. Durries are coarse and are usually made of cotton or wool.


Process of colouring fibre, yarn and fabric. Pigments are applied on textile materials to achieve the desired colours.


It is the impression of a pattern on fabric, and is also known as relief printing. Embossing creates raised designs and alters the flat texture of the fabric.


A technique of decorating textiles with needle and thread. Beautiful patterns and designs are sewn directly onto the fabric through the craft of embroidery.


A durable, white silk, produced mostly in Northeast India. The eri silk is also called endi, and can be made without killing the silkworm. It is heavier than other silks and can be easily blended with cotton and wool.


A material which is made using yarns through the process of weaving, knitting, crocheting, braiding etc. Once the fabric is made, it is used for specific purposes, like clothing or upholstery.


A non-woven cloth made by matting, condensing and pressing fibres. It can be made both from natural and synthetic fibres.


A long, hair-like strand that can be made into fabric. Fibres can be spun into yarn which, in turn are processed to make textiles and fabrics.


Continuous strands of yarn. Filaments are fine, thinly spun and have indefinite length.

Fo Ho Ho

A turban of white fabric used by the men of the Tai Phake community of Assam.

Garhwali Topi

A traditional cap from Uttarakhand.


Traditional handloom of the Tani/Abutani community of Arunachal Pradesh.


Permeable fabrics, typically made from polypropylene or polyester. It has the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect or to drain when used in association with soil.

Gharcholu / Gharchola

A type of bandhani textile especially used as a traditional dress for Hindu brides in Rajasthan.


A traditional woolen blanket of Maharashtra.


It is the process of separating cotton fibres from cotton seeds. It is either done manually using a worm-press (charkhi) or through cotton gin machines.


A loom that is operated manually.


A fabric traditionally from Aurangabad which is made of silk and cotton. Himroo was made for the royal families in the medieval period. It is a replication of kimkhab which is woven with pure gold and silver threads.


A resist-dye technique. The yarns are first tied and dyed, and thereafter, woven to create beautiful patterns on fabric.

Indigo Dye

One of the oldest natural dyes of India. Extracted from the leaves of indigo plants, it is widely used to produce shades of blue colour on fabrics.


A traditional lower garment of the Khasi and Jaintia men of Meghalaya. It reflects a border work with golden threads.


A rectangular piece of thick cotton fabric, used as a lower garment of the Khasi and Jaintia women of Meghalaya.


A tunic famous during the medieval period. It has a tight bodice and a flared end. A patka or a waist sash goes along with it.


A fine muslin textile on which decorative motifs are woven using a mixture of cotton and gold thread on the loom. The production of jamdani was patronized during the Mughal period.


It literally means ‘pen-work’ and involves the creation of intricate painted and printed patterns. There are two types of Kalamkari: Machilipatnam and Srikalahasti, from the two regions of Andhra Pradesh. The former is block printed while the latter is hand-painted.


A motif design used to decorate fabrics. It is pine shaped with curved upper end, known to represent the unripe mango. Famously known as the paisley motif in English, its origins in India goes back to the 16th century.


A type of Mukaish embroidery done in Lucknow. Metallic threads are used to create beautiful motifs and patterns. Kamdani work is often combined with Chikankari to decorate fabrics.

Kani weave

A very difficult technique used mostly to weave Pashmina shawls. It involves colourful weft threads that are woven using wooden spools called toji on the warp threads to form intricate patterns.

Kanjeevaram saree

One of the most well-known silk saris produced in India. Originating from the temple town of Kanchipuram, these are richly decorated silk saree, with elaborate zari work.


A type of embroidery that is executed on layers of old clothes stitched together, traditionally old white cotton saree. On this, different coloured threads are embroidered using a simple running or chain stitch.


Urdu term, literally meaning ‘artist’. It is also used to refer to the the textile craftspersons in India.


A workshop where textile manufacture and decoration takes place.

Karvat Kathi

A saree of special weave from Vidarbha of Maharashtra. The body of the saree is made of pure silk (mostly tussar) and the border is of cotton.


A type of embroidery from Kashmir. It involves an intricate needlework using thick colourful threads. Floral motif is predominantly inspired from the flora of Kashmir. It is done mostly on cotton, silk and woollen fabrics.


In this technique, multi coloured cotton threads are embroidered on the base fabric. It is usually executed by women. The motifs get their inspiration from religion, architecture, flora, fauna and objects of daily use.


A lightweight cotton or silk fabric mainly used for making cholis or blouses. It is manufactured in North Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra.

Kimkhab weave

It is woven using the durable Mukta silk brocaded with gold and silver threads. Literally meaning the fabric of dreams, kimkhab is a rich weaving tradition from Varanasi.


The process of producing a fabric with the aid of needles by the interlooping of one or more yarns.

Kota Doria

A lightweight fabric that is hand woven on traditional pit looms in Rajasthan. Made of both cotton and silk, this fabric has squares of different sizes woven all over it.

Kotip Nokma

A silk turban of the head man of a Garo village in Meghalaya.

Kuchai Silk

A traditional Indian fabric chiefly produced in Jharkhand.

Kunbi weave

Named after a community of Goa, Kunbi is woven in cotton. It is known for its simple, chequered patterns and colourful borders. The colour palette of yellow, green and red is said to be inspired by the different stages of life.


A full sleeve blouse from Mizoram.


A thread embroidery done over a base fabric of red or blue colour. It involves further embellishments using mirrors, cowrie shells, silver trinkets, beads and coins.


A type of tie-dye method practised in Rajasthan. It is mostly done on thin cotton or silk cloth. This technique gets its name from the Rajasthani word for wave, as it often produces wave-like patterns on fabric.


A traditional, long skirt worn by women in India. It is paired with a choli and is usually worn on festive occasions.

Lepcha weave

A weaving tradition of Sikkim, locally known as ‘thara’. It is done mostly using wool for making colourful patterns of green, black, red, etc. on a cotton base. The Lepcha tribe earlier used nettle yarn instead of wool.

Madhubani Painting

A folk art tradition of Bihar. Mineral pigments and vegetable colours are used for this kind of painting. It was earlier done on mud walls using fingers, twigs or brushes. Now, it is also done on fabrics.

Madras fabric

A typical, chequered, light weight, cotton fabric especially suitable for the summers. As is obvious from the name, it originates from Chennai, formerly known as Madras.


A scroll painting tradition of Bihar.


A jacket used by the men of the Mishing community of Assam.


A yarn, both durable and resilient, made from the hair of the Angora goat. Mohair is notable for its high luster and sheen, and is often used in fibre blends to add these qualities to a textile.


A type of metallic embroidery done in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Gold and silver wires are used to create patterns, most commonly dots on light coloured fabrics. Mukaish work is often combined with Chikankari embroidery.


A cotton fabric woven with the plain weave technique. It is known for its light weight and very fine texture. It became very famous during the medieval period under the patronage of Mughals.

Ngami Su

A lower garment of the women of the Ao Naga tribe of Nagaland. It is woven on a red background, designed with black stripes.


A speciality of Rajasthani traditional attire. It is worn over the head like a chunri.


A printed, painted or dyed cotton fabric which was used as bed cover. It was especially produced for the European market during the 18th-19th centuries.


The loose end of a saree which is worn either over a shoulder or head.

Parsi embroidery

An embroidery technique practiced by the Parsi community in Maharashtra. It involves light pastel coloured threads that are embroidered on a dark coloured base fabric to create a contrasting pattern.


A double ikat weaving tradition practiced in Gujarat. Both warp and weft yarns are tie-dyed repeatedly to introduce more than one colour. Once the yarns are tie-dyed, they are woven.


A scroll painting tradition of Odisha. It is believed that this tradition started with the establishment of the Jagannath Temple at Puri in the 11th century.


A folk painting done on a long piece of cloth or phada. It depicts the stories of kings, important personalities and folk deities of Rajasthan, usually of Pabuji and Devanarayana. Phada paintings are created using vegetable colours.


A woven fabric wrapped around the head by the Tiwa men as a turban in Assam.


A thread embroidery technique from Punjab that involves bright colours including red, orange, yellow, green and golden.


A garment worn by the married women of Uttarakhand during ceremonial occasions. This hand printed fabric contains traditional motifs with red colour over yellow background.


Large paintings on cloth depicting Lord Krishna and his life. Originated in the town of Nathdwara, Picchwai was traditionally made as hangings for the Shrinathji Temple there. Now, they are also used as wall hangings for decorative purposes in homes, hotels etc.


A traditional odhani in red and yellow colour scheme. It is dyed with turmeric to impart properties of anti-inflammation. A typical piliya is largely yellow in colour with red appearing in borders.

Pipli applique

An embroidery technique from Pipli, Odisha in which the pieces of fabric are cut and folded into little shapes, and then stitched on the base fabric. It is further decorated with mirror and thread work. The motifs are geometric, abstract and stylized.

Pit Loom

A type of loom that is installed in a pit where, the artisan makes the rug by the use of pedals.

Plain knit

It is the simplest knitted construction that consists of vertical ribs visible on the front of the fabric and horizontal rows of stitches visible on the back.

Plain Weave

It’s a simple criss-crossing of the warp and the weft at right angles, mostly used for fashion and furnishing fabrics.


An ikat technique of weaving from the Poochampally village of Telangana.

Power Loom

A mechanized loom used to weave textiles in factories or industries. It was first designed in 1787 by Edmund Cartwright.


Decoration of textiles by the application of insoluble pigments or dyes in definite repeated forms and colours.


Puanchei is a colourful shawl from Mizoram, considered as one of the essential textiles. It plays an important part in the life of a married Mizo woman. Puanchei is commonly used as a costume in Mizo festive dances and official ceremonies.


A quilt is a multi-layered textile. It is traditionally composed of three layers of fibre - a woven cloth top, a layer of batting or wadding, and a woven back, combined using the technique of quilting, the process of sewing the three layers together.

Resist Dyeing

A technique of dyeing yarn or fabric. Here, resist materials like thread, wax, rice or mud paste are used to cover certain parts of the fabric or yarn that needs to be dyed. These covered parts resist the dye, and the combination of dyed and undyed parts creates designs on the yarn or fabric.


Traditional ikat saree woven in Sambalpur, Odisha.

Satin Weave

A type of weave characterised by four or more weft yarns floating over a warp yarn or vice versa. It gives the woven fabric a silky appearance.


It is the production of raw silk by means of raising caterpillars (larvae), particularly those of the domesticated silkworm (Bombyx mori).

Shatni Shawl

In Konyak Naga society of Nagaland, this shawl is a wedding gift to a bride by her parents and is meant to wrap her body when she dies.


Thread or yarn arranged in the form of a loose coil.


An abruptly thickened place in yarn.


Small curly portions in a yarn with twist.


It is a tool made of wood used for spinning and twisting fibres such as wool, hemp, cotton into yarn.

Spindle Whorl

A disc-shaped object with a hole in the center which is fit into a spindle to maintain the spinning speed. It has ancient origins.


The process of turning bundles of fibre into a thread or a yarn either manually through a spinning wheel or with the use of industrial machines.

Spinning Wheel

A tool used for processing fibre into yarn. It is operated manually.

Sujani Embroidery

An embroidery technique from Bihar, traditionally carried out on layers of old, white, cotton sarees that are stitched together using a white thread. The motifs are inspired by the daily lives of people.


A term to denote man-made fibres or filaments produced by the polymerisation of monomers.


A crisp and smooth silk or synthetic fabric. It is lightweight and lustrous.


A type of shawl woven by the Dangasia community in the district of Surendranagar, Gujarat.

Tapestry Weaving

One of the oldest forms of textile art, tapestry weaving is the technique of creating pictures on fabrics using colourful threads. In this, the warp thread is completely camouflaged by the weft thread.


A decorative cloth that may be used as a hanging or a table cover.

Telia Rumal

A handkerchief produced in Andhra Pradesh. The making of this handkerchief involves the use of tel (oil). It was traditionally produced by the weavers belonging to the Padmashali community.


Any material that is produced through the interlacing of yarns. Yarns can be interlaced in several ways such as weaving, knitting, crocheting, braiding etc.


A religious scroll art tradition of Himachal Pradesh. It is done on cotton or silk fabric.


Traditional skirt of the Idu Mishmi community of Arunachal Pradesh.

Tie and Dye

Tie-dye method is a type of resist dyeing in which many small portions of the fabric are plucked and tied tightly with string before immersing the cloth in the dye-bath. The dye does not penetrate the tied part. Once dyeing is done, the fabric is untied to reveal an interesting pattern.


A traditional decorative item used in rituals and festivities of Hindu religion. It is especially used on auspicious occasions and typically hung on the entrances of homes. It is a horizontal stretch of fabric decorated with thread and mirror embroidery.


It is a part of the spinning wheel or sewing machine. It is essentially a lever that a person operates with the foot in order to turn a wheel in the machine.


A prominent warrior shawl of the Ao Naga tribe of Nagaland. It reflects a variety of figures that include mithun (gayal), tigers, elephants and a human head along with the spear on its top. This shawl is also known as Mangkoteptsu.

Tussar silk

An exquisite thread obtained from a moth genus called Antheraea Paphia. It is known as ‘wild silk’ which is produced primarily in the states of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. Tussar silk has a deep golden colour and very fine texture.

Twill Weave

Twill weave creates a diagonal rib pattern on the fabric. Twill woven fabrics often have a darker front side called wale. It is one of the three major textile weaves, the other two being satin and plain weaves.


A variety of fabrics used for covering furniture seats.

Vat dyeing

A process in which fabric is dyed by dipping it in a vat, containing a solution of a natural dye such as indigo.

Warp and Weft

Warp is the yarn that runs vertically while weft it the yarn that runs horizontally on a loom. These two yarns are interlaced at right angles to weave fabrics.


A process of manufacturing textile by interlacing warp and weft threads with the help of a loom.


A thread which is made from a bundle of fibres through the process of spinning on a spinning wheel manually or through a spinning machine. Once yarn is spun, it is used to weave fabrics on a loom.


Zardozi is a type of heavy metal embroidery on velvet, satin and silk fabrics. Gold and silver threads are used to create designs along with pearls, beads, stones etc.


Zari is thread, traditionally made of gold and silver. It is used for weaving and brocade embroidery especially on silk fabrics.