Is Aheer a Rajput caste


The Ahir, a Hindu pastoral and peasant caste, live in western India. The women from Kutch and Saurashtra (Gujarat) in particular are known to be extremely skilled embroiderers.


Angora wool is a fine, very light wool from the angora rabbit. The wool is processed into high-quality woven and knitted goods. Until recently, the abbreviation Angora also applied to fabrics with the hair of the Angora goat. Today this is called mohair.


In large parts of India, Ari is the name of a small awl with a notch at the tip, similar to the European crochet hook. Particularly in cashmere, but traditionally also in Gujarat (mochi embroidery), fine chain stitch work is made with it.

Balsa wood

The balsa tree (Ochroma lagopus) occurs in northern South America, Africa and Asia (up to 1000 m above sea level). It grows up to 25 m high and its trunk can reach a diameter of almost a meter.
Balsa is one of the lightest useful woods and can be worked very well by hand as well as by machine. Therefore, it is also great for carving.


Bandhani or Bandhana (English: Tie & Dye) is the name in Gujarat for the reserve dyeing technique of tying and dyeing, the latter usually in several stages. Depending on your requirements, very filigree and complex patterns can be created, which are made up of small dots.


The Banjara are an originally North Indian tribe from the wagon driver caste. Today they live as gypsies or farmers. The Banjara women make the most sumptuous and intricate embroidery in all of India.


With around 46% of the world's fiber consumption, cotton is by far the most important fiber crop on earth. Historically, the countries India and Peru are considered homeland. A tissue fragment from around 3000 BC was found on the Indus. Found.

In Germany (Haus Fugger), cotton was still considered a luxury fiber in the 14th century because the fiber had to be separated from the seed manually. Only with the inventions of the mechanical spinning machine (1764), the weaving machine (1785) and the ginning or egrening machine (1792) could the world triumphant advance begin.

Large-scale cultivation began in the American southern states. Other important growing areas are now in the states of the former Soviet Union, in China, India, Central and South America, in Africa (especially Egypt and Sudan) and Turkey.


Bidri is the name for a special art of metal casting with silver inlays, which came to India, to Andhra Pradesh about 700 years ago and probably originated in Iran. It experienced its heyday especially during the Mughal rule.

Bidrig vessels and figures are made of a zinc-copper alloy in a 16: 1 ratio. The cast form is first smoothed with sandpaper and then blackened with copper sulfate. The next step is to scratch a pattern into which silver threads or fine silver plates are hammered.

After smoothing the surface again, the piece is carefully heated and treated with a paste made from ammonium chloride, water and soil from various old fortresses. As a result, the zinc alloy is permanently blackened and the silver pattern emerges richly in contrast. The final rubbing of the work with oil deepens the black color a little


Bindi is the so-called "point" on the forehead of many Indian women. It is a self-adhesive plastic plate, which is usually color-coordinated with the clothing. It is not a sign of marriage or any special caste.


The Bishnoi are a Hindu caste of ranchers from western India. They are vegetarians and are known for their respect for nature. Their elaborate embroidery is remarkable.

Block print

"Block-print" means block printing and describes the technique of printing cotton fabrics by hand using hand-carved printing stamps. Colors are applied directly to the prepared fabric or the technique of reserve printing is used.

In the latter case, the stain reservation, a paste is printed on a specially prepared cloth in order to leave the predetermined areas white or to protect and fix existing colors.
Important centers of block printing are in Gujarat and Rajasthan.


The term "brocade" comes from the Italian "broccare" = "work through" and describes a heavy, richly patterned silk fabric with woven gold, silver or lurex threads.

- see also Zari


Butti is a flower pattern probably of Persian or Mughal origin on Indian textiles called. This is also the name of the paisley pattern made of cashmere, which is based on the Indian sea shell.


At the beginning of the 19th century, people in Europe became aware of the luxurious cashmere wool from the highlands of Asia. It is obtained from the fine, soft under or down hair of the Kashmiri goat that lives at altitudes of up to 4000 m.

Cashmere wool is mainly produced in China, Mongolia and Tibet today; the portion of the Indian province of Kashmir, from which the name is derived, can be neglected.

When the goats shed their coat in spring, the fluff is removed by hand with a wide-toothed comb. Then the coarse hair and the downy hair of the cashmere goat are separated from each other by a mechanical process, the awning. Up to 500 g of fibers are obtained with an average of 120 to 180 g of underhair per goat.


Chiffon (French: cloth) is a very delicate, transparent silk or synthetic fiber fabric made from creped or other yarns that create a finely structured surface. The fabric is often used for evening dresses and blouses.


Choli is the name for a short blouse that covers only the chest and is worn by women from various farming communities in western India. This includes a wide swinging skirt (gaghra) and a veil.


These Indian trousers are said to have stood as a model for the English riding trousers: they are wide at the hips and close-fitting on the lower legs and are worn in Rajasthan.


A special and very elaborate application technique is called "cutwork" in Rajasthan: a pattern is cut out of a large piece of fabric and the remaining net-like cloth is then sewn onto another surface.

Incidentally, a variant of this technique is also native to Latin America: Mola. The Kuna Indians of an island off Panama make very fine appliqués of this type.


In some tribes of West Bengal, metal figures are traditionally made as a cast metal of the lost form (cire perdue). Some of these tribes from the so-called "tribal belt" (an area in which various indigenous tribes of India live) are called Dhokra. This name probably refers to metal smiths who moved around in the past.

A lot of work is necessary before a so-called Dhokra figure is completed: First, the craftsman forms a model core from clay and then wraps it with wax threads. (To make them, he first pressed beeswax through a pipe, say a piece of bamboo.) Depending on regional and personal preferences, the wax threads lie parallel or crossed, or their surface is smoothed with a hot knife.

Finally, a layer of clay is applied around the figure, which is completely modeled in wax and provided with all the details, and then - after it has dried - another layer of clay mixed with straw is applied. After drying, the work is wrapped with wire to stabilize it.

Molten brass is now poured into an opening in the top and the wax, which then melts, exits through a hole in the bottom. The heat also burns the clay.

After everything has cooled down, the outer layer of clay and sometimes the inner core is removed. Often, however, this remains or is also visible and gives the figure a certain heaviness.


The dhoti is a four-meter-long piece of fabric made of thin cotton muslin that is wrapped into a long trouser shape and pulled through between the legs. More and more the European style of trousers is displacing this traditional men's clothing of the Hindus.


The dupatta is a long scarf (about two and a half meters long and one meter wide) worn over the head or shoulders. It serves as a crowning addition to the North Indian women's clothing Salvar Kameez and is worn with sophistication and chic.


Flax, also known as flax, is a stem plant whose bast fibers are spun into yarn. Flax is the oldest plant fiber processed into textiles and has been known in the Middle East since the Neolithic (see also linen).


The name Gaghra is a swinging skirt worn by women in western India.


In Rajasthan, Gudri is a form of razai (quilt). Two thin cotton blankets are connected by hand with simple lock stitches, whereby the top blanket is usually provided with a block print pattern.

Although they are made without filling, they serve as a sleeping pad for the very poor.


Havelis are townhouses of wealthy merchants and landowners in western India. They were mostly built in the 19th century and are characterized by rich carvings on doors or windows and elaborate wall paintings.
Today some of these richly carved wooden parts are converted into tables and cupboards.


In India, hookah is the name given to the water pipe.


In order to create the typical ikat patterns, the warp and weft threads are dyed using a reserve pattern (binding technique) before weaving.


Indigo is the dye obtained from the tropical plant Indigoferra, which was used to color blue. Today indigo can also be produced chemically.


Jali is a lattice-like, filigree stone carving or carving work.


- see cashmere scarf


Similar to hemp, jute is a dicotyledonous plant (Latin: Corchorus capsularis and Corchorus olitorius), from whose stem bast the jute fiber is obtained. The main growing areas are India and Pakistan.
Before spinning, the long fiber is torn and subjected to a special treatment to make it soft and supple.

Jute is used as a coarse fabric (Hessian) for packaging materials, upholstery work, wall coverings (plucking) and base fabric for tufted carpets, linoleum, etc.


The cadamba or kadam tree (nauclea orientalis, cadamba indica) is native to India and the countries of Southeast Asia. It grows quickly and reaches a height of 15 m. Its broad branches with dark green, long leaves bear light yellow, ball-shaped flowers and edible fruits.

The possible uses of light wood are diverse. It is easy to work with and can be used anywhere indoors, also excellent for carving. It weathers quickly outside.

Kadam is similar to the much more expensive sandalwood, although it is a little lighter and lighter and of course does not smell that much. It happens that the latter is compensated by fraudulent carvers or dealers by rubbing it with sandalwood oil.


There is a disagreement about the name Kalamkari in India: both filigree block-printed fabrics and hand-painted fabrics from Masulipatnam and Kalahasti in Andhra Pradesh that are decorated with the "Kalam" (feather) are so called.

When using a Kalam, the patterns are drawn or wax is applied as a reserve.

Common to all Kalamkari fabrics is the extremely elaborate dyeing method and the use of natural colors.


This shirt-like tunic is mainly worn over harem pants in northern India and Pakistan - see Salvar Kameez

Cashmere scarf

Weaving cashmere scarves is one of the finest forms of textile art. Already during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) the popularity of these scarves as a valuable gift was pointed out. At that time, woolen scarves had been woven in the Kaschmirtal for over 100 years.

The cashmere scarf has been known in Europe since the end of the 18th century. It was the English women who first became enthusiastic about this colorful, softly falling fabric. Of course, those were luxury fashion items at the time that were very expensive, and not just because they were imported.

The classic cashmere shawl, actually a large shawl, was known under the names Kani and Jamawar. It was woven from pashmina wool, the fine, soft undercoat of a Central Asian type of mountain goat. There was no pashmina production in Kashmir itself, but the wool was always imported from Tibet or the Chinese Turkestan.

There were two qualities of pashmina wool, the finest of which was called "asli tus" and came from wild goats. Most of the wool processed in Kashmir at that time was a little coarser and came from domestic goats.

The production of the scarves was very complex, as two weavers, sitting next to each other in the bobbinet loom, had to work for 1 to 2 years before such a work was nearing completion. Or you worked on several looms in parallel and then sewed the individual parts together with almost invisible stitches.

The entries had to be made by hand by weaving in the small color fields. The delicate colored wool threads ran from countless sinks (a thousand and more) into a shaft loom, which was set up for the finest thread material.
In order to reduce costs and save time, from 1803 people started to embroider the complicated patterns, and since the beginning of the 20th century the scarves have mostly been made from the much cheaper merino wool.

In Europe, imports were gradually replaced by cheaper own production in the 19th century. The so-called Viennese scarves came from Austria as early as the Biedermeier period.

The English cashmere scarves from the city of Paisley achieved great fame. They became so popular that the Kashmiri "butti pattern", the palmette, was called "paisley". France also had its center for weaving cashmere shawls.

Cashmere wool

- see cashmere


In India, this name means hand-spun and hand-woven cotton.


A kurta is a collarless, loose shirt for men.


Linen is made from the fibers of the flax. Flax was already grown by the Egyptians and other civilized peoples about 6000 years ago. This is documented by mummies that were found near pyramid openings and were wrapped in strips of linen.

Linen fabrics are very suitable for summer clothing, as they absorb body moisture well and release it to the outside. The fibers are very hard-wearing and have a natural shine.


Especially in the country and in southern India, men wear comfortable lunghis: a more or less colorful, two-meter-long hip scarf that is tied at the waist.


Not only in India, women and children for religious and festive occasions beautify their skin with sometimes very elaborate patterns. Mehendi is the name given to the skin painting, which is done with a paste made from powdered leaves of the henna plant and water.

Merino wool

Merino wool is obtained from merino sheep, the so-called fine wool sheep. In the past, this breed of domestic sheep only existed in Spain, today the largest populations are mainly found in Australia.
Merino wool is soft, fine, pliable and hard-wearing as well as dimensionally stable.

Extremely light merino wool that regulates temperature and does not felt (originally summer wool) is called cool wool.

Often times, cashmere and merino wool are combined in order to obtain the advantages of both wool qualities.


Mohair is the hair of the Angora goat, a breed of small domestic goats originally bred in the Middle East with long, curly, silky hair. The best shear comes from South Africa, which today is one of the main suppliers alongside Texas.

Fabrics known as mohair are often blends of wool and mohair. The fabric is used for outerwear, scarves and hats.

One animal provides up to 4 kg of hair per year.


In western India, many women traditionally wear large scarves to protect them from sun, wind, sand and prying eyes. Often they are a pleasant contrast to the rather barren landscape in their colors. Depending on the occasion and the wearer, they have different names, in Rajasthan they are generally called Odhani.

Odhani comes from "odhana" and means "to cover something". It is a wide, two meter long scarf or veil that hangs down from the head and covers parts of the body. It corresponds to the tradition of these desert areas to cover the head as a sign of respect for the elderly, regardless of religion or gender.

The color and pattern of these veils say a lot about the wearer; where she comes from, whether she is married, how many children she has etc.


Organza is a fine, thin, stiff fabric that is made from the threads of the silkworm that are covered with silk glue. Organza made of man-made fibers gets its rigidity through appropriate treatment of the fabric. If this fine fabric is made of cotton, it is called organdy.

East Indian rosewood

The East Indian rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) is a large tree that thrives in South Asia (East India and Sri Lanka), Indochina, and Java. It is also known as East Indian rosewood, and in India as Shisham, Sissoo, and Biti.
Rosewood reaches a height of 25 m and its trunk is up to 1.5 m thick. Its dense wood is very hard, tough and durable and does not shrink much. It is therefore also relatively difficult to work by hand or by machine.

Nevertheless, it is used for high-quality furniture, paneling and parquet. It is quite suitable for turning and carving and is considered a special wood for musical instruments. It is only available in small quantities in Europe.

Pashmina scarf

Pashmina scarves are woven from the wool of the cashmere goat (weft) and natural silk as a warp thread (the longitudinal thread of the loom). The silk gives the scarf strength and shine and makes it affordable: the price for an original pashmina is between 300 and 1000 €.

Until a few years ago, pashmina was almost entirely unknown in Europe and, with a few exceptions, was only granted to a small group of monks and residents of the Himalayas. However, when the carpet industry recession in Nepal in the mid-1990s, many unemployed weavers and weavers had to reorient themselves.

The weaving of pashmina scarves and the rapid breakthrough in the fashion markets from New York to London was the salvation for many residents of Nepal, because in a small, far away country like Nepal, the breakdown in a production branch such as carpet production is equivalent to an economic catastrophe .


A very warm woolen overdress, the pharan, is worn in Kashmir, especially in winter. It is long and wide enough to place the small transportable charcoal stove (Khangri), which the Kashmiris always carry with them in the cold months, under it while sitting.

The men's pharans are rather simple and monochrome, while those of the women are decorated with embroidery.
Today, cotton pharans are worn less often on festive occasions. Younger women in particular prefer one of the typical large woolen scarves.


These traditional, wide and comfortable trousers, also known as pajams, are not only worn by Indian men in Rajasthan. Completed with a long shirt (kurta) the ensemble is called "kurta pajamas".

Incidentally, the trousers were exported by the English as nightwear.


Members of the warrior caste of Rajasthan are called Rajputs, literally translated: "son of a king".


Ramie is a bast fiber plant from the nettle family, also called Chinese grass. It is mainly grown in China, India and the USA and is a very productive, high-growing stem plant with shiny and durable bast fibers. In good years it can be harvested up to four times.

When processed, the ramie fiber consists of almost pure cellulose. The yarns produced using different spinning processes can be bleached and finished well and can be dyed very well. Just like linen yarns, ramie yarns are used in the textile and technical sectors for the production of highly stressed articles, e.g. for upholstery and decoration fabrics, base fabrics for carpets, belts, conveyor belts, etc.


Razai is the name of a (mostly) cotton-lined blanket that has been hand-quilted using the quilting technique. Often the ceilings are decorated with block printing.

Salvar Kameez

This traditional woman's costume comes from the Punjab (hence also known as the "Punjabi dress") and is now popular all over India: a wide overdress is worn over comfortable, wide trousers, and everything is complemented by a long scarf (dupatta).


The sandalwood tree (Santalum album) is a small, evergreen tree up to 10 m high that is native to the tropical countries of Asia. As a semi-parasite, it grows mainly on gramineae, palm trees and araliacea.

Sandalwood has been used for at least 4000 years, making it one of the oldest known aromatic substances. It is used for smoking, as carving wood and, above all, for extracting sandal oil. As one of the most expensive essential oils, it is used as a fragrance in soaps, perfumes and other cosmetics as well as in aromatherapy. It was also used as a pharmaceutical disinfectant in the past.


The most famous piece of clothing for Indian women is probably the saree or saree. It is about 5.5 m long and 1.20 m wide that is wrapped around the waist; In this case, folds placed in a hand's breadth are tucked into a petticoat a little below the navel and open when running, the usually particularly beautifully crafted end of the saree is placed over a color-coordinated, tight-fitting, short blouse and then thrown over the shoulder.
A sari is timeless and is worn by all layers and on all occasions. The material, design and color alone provide information about the wearer: for example, widows dress white and wedding saris are traditionally red.


Silk is an animal fiber obtained from the cocoons of silkworms. The finest silk, also known as real silk, is obtained from the cultivated mulberry spiders. After the cocoon has been removed from the tree, the larvae killed and the silk glue dissolved in the water, the threads are gathered and twisted.

According to tradition, silk has been known in China for three millennia. Silkworm breeding based on the Chinese model has been practiced in Europe since the 6th century.

In contrast to mulberry silk, wild silk is obtained from the cocoons of wild, non-breeding caterpillars (Indian, Japanese and Chinese oak moths), hence the name wild silk.

The best known wild silk is tussah silk. The single thread is flat like a ribbon, not very transparent and considerably wider than that of real silk.


Shahtoosh scarves were made from hair from the wild Tibetan antelope in Kashmir. With the best quality, a scarf should be so fine that it could be pulled through a finger ring. The antelopes are hunted to preserve the wool, or rather the delicate fluff of these animals. Five animals have to die for a single scarf made from this most expensive wool in the world.

So far, wealthy fashion freaks have not been deterred from paying € 3,000 per scarf and more. As a result, up to 20,000 Tibetan antelopes were poached annually in Tibet and western China. Their population has thus sunk from once well over a million to now 50,000 to 70,000 animals.
India pledged to crack down on the production and trade of Shahtoosh scarves, but the current absolute trade ban is already being circumvented.


also Shisham - see East Indian rosewood


Sindhur is the name of the red colored powder for the point in the middle of the forehead, which the married Hindu woman receives at the wedding. The sign of the married Hindu woman, however, is the parting colored red with vermilion.
In India, many women (not just Hindus) use the self-adhesive bindi on their foreheads.


Soof is a fine, superficial satin embroidery that creates shapes, mainly triangles and triangular variants, with a stretch stitch. Silk and rayon threads as well as cotton thread are used. One variation is Astar Soof, in which long stretch stitches in lines are used across fabric surfaces.
Soof embroidery is widespread in Rajasthan and Gujarat, especially among the Sodha Rajputs.


Soapstone is the name given to dense, white or light-colored aggregates of the mineral talc (Arabic). The surface feels greasy, hence the German name.

Soapstone is easy to carve. Finely ground it is used as talc in sports.


The Bheel, a low caste of nomadic ranchers, live deep in the Indian desert. They do simple embroidery with mirrors - takka. Mostly it is a question of blankets, which the bride family presents to the groom at weddings.

teak wood

Teak comes from Burma and grows extensively all over India, Thailand, Indonesia and Java. It is also cultivated in Malaysia, Borneo, the Philippines, tropical Africa and Central America.
Teak is a very hard wood that can be worked well by hand and machine. It is very resistant to aging and is widely used in furniture and cabinet making, in shipbuilding and for decorative floor coverings.

Tie & Dye

- see Bandhani


Tikka is the name given to the ritual decoration of the forehead with a point made of sandalwood paste (kum-kum).


In Gujarat, doors are traditionally decorated with embroidered or appliquéd narrow wall hangings, especially in rural areas. A Toran can frame the door both on the sides and from above.


Like women, men in western India wear headgear; the turban. A 1.20 m wide and up to 10 m long piece of fabric is twisted more or less strongly and wrapped around the head. The end gets stuck with various tying methods and is draped in a suitable manner.

There are said to be up to 1000 different types of turbans in Rajasthan. The shape, color and size, similar to women's veils, provide information about the wearer. The knowledgeable observer reads from them origin, social position, occupation and so many living conditions.

Certain patterns depend on the time of year, while others indicate marriage, birth, or death. They are also regionally different: in Rajasthan, the patterns are said to change about every 20 km.
The religious community of the Sikhs should also be mentioned here, in which the men also wear a single-colored turban.


Viscose is understood to be viscose fibers that are made from cellulose. For this purpose, the cellulose is treated with caustic soda and spun into fibers using carbon disulfide in the so-called wet spinning process. This process has been known since 1897/98.

Viscose consists of 99% cellulose. It is easy to dye and is often used in mixed fabrics.


In common parlance, the term wool is used for sheep's wool and textiles made from it. But it also stands for the wool made from other animal hair, such as angora (rabbit hair), cashmere or mohair (goat hair).

After shearing, the wool grease is washed out and the wool is cleaned of impurities. Then the clean animal hair is mechanically processed (loosening, combing) until it can be spun. Along with flax and linen, wool is the oldest traceable material for making clothes in Europe.


Zari is the name for metal thread and thin silver wire, which have been used for centuries for embroidery (on cotton or silk) and weaving (brocade).

Traditionally, the manufacture of the Zari thread begins with melting a layer of real gold onto a silver bar in a furnace. This piece of metal is then pulled through an eyelet that is getting smaller and smaller until it has reached the fineness of human hair.
In this process, the gold coating is retained. The thread is hammered flat and wound around a silk thread.

Today, an artificial Zari thread is also made, in which a silver layer is applied to copper wire in an electrolysis process.