The fabric is cotton and this is sourced from the local market. Threads used are woollen.
Nearly all the shapes one finds on a shawl are related to Nature. The shape of a mountain range, fire, a grain of rice, water, the sacred buffalo’s horns and such other shapes, are depicted.
It seems every young girl will eventually try a hand at shawl embroidery. While there is no compulsion to learn the art, the younger folk simply pick up the skill by watching the elders. There is the larger shawl that takes nearly a month to embroider; this one is worn during their festivals. The smaller one is usually draped on when they set out of the village to the daily market.
Let all the colour and creativity however, not hide the fact that this is a dwindling indigenous community with several problems to tackle.
The resilience on the face of the oldest woman in the group is inspirational to the rest. Her quest for perfection too. In all the patience that this art requires, we are told that if even one stitch is misplaced, they will redo the entire design.
Puthukuli, the name for shawl in Toda dialect, continues to fascinate visitors and locals alike - a must-have souvenir from the Nilgiris.