Rabari artisans / India / Kothali (dowry bag) c.1960s / Cotton, silk, mirrors / 65 x 42cm / Purchased 2007. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant / © The artists

Rabari artisans
Kothali (dowry bag) c.1960

On Display: QAG, Gallery 17

These Kothali or dowry bags were created by the Rabari women from the Kutch district, in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Their finely worked floral and geometric designs derive from mythology and from the artists’ environment, while the mirrors are believed to confuse devilish spirits and ward off the evil eye.

Although the stitched designs may appear abstract, each motif has a specific symbolic meaning in the complex language that makes up Rabari embroidery. Temples, camels, parrots, mango and acacia trees, peacocks, scorpions and women carrying water are all common subjects. Each item tells a story, chronicling a wealth of information about Rabari life and history.