The Todas

 

 

Athasta belongs to the Toda community.

 

The Todas live in isolated villages near Ooty in the Nilgiris, and their traditional occupations were limited to agriculture and buffalo breeding. The women in the community have inherited the skill of intricate embroidery which stands out for its complexity and aesthetic.

 

The embroidery known as Pugur, or “flower” in the Toda language, is based on thread counts, which is even more interesting considering that indigenous Toda women do not have any modern numerical literacy, but still skillfully embroider patterns with geometric precision. Yet another fascinating feature of the embroidery is that the reverse side is equally beautiful as the front side.

The embroidery is done on a cream loosely woven cotton fabric that facilitates the counting of woven threads, which are traditionally red and black. These three colours reflect their cultural beliefs : the cream base symbolizes purity and innocence, red youth and black maturity.

 

There are no pattern books for Today embroidery. The patterns reflect the creativity of each Toda woman who is inspired by nature and mythological stories so that every single piece will be unique.

 

Athasta as a young woman & her interior.

Athasta as a young woman & her interior.