Motifs of India

The variety of Motifs used in India  are limitless. Let us take a look at the different motifs and what they symbolize :

Palki Motif

Palki means Palanquin. The palanquin was a common mode of transport in rural areas. Indian have traditionally been using Palanquins since centuries.

The palanquin also symbolizes marriage. After the marriage, girls in earlier days were taken to her husband’s home in a Palanquin.

Boat Motifs

Boal helps people to sail and cross the river. Life is considered as a journey and boat is the helpful medium to sail through the river of life.

Kalka Motif

This embroidery motif is believed to have originated in Iran. They were used in shawls during the rule of the Sultans and the Mughals.

Lotus Motif

The original symbol of creation, symbolizing wellness and beauty. The lotus has its roots in the earth, floats over the water and opens up to the sky reflecting creation and wellness of human kind.

Motifs based on Hindu Mythology

Marriage of Shiv- Parvati, Images of Ganesha, Symbol of Swastika etc. Ganesh and Kartik, children of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati, are symbols learning, wealth and prosperity.  The immortal love between Krishna and Radha is often described through Kantha Motifs. Shiva denotes supreme power and destruction. Kali also denotes supreme power and destruction of evil. Indra, the god of Rain, is associated with agriculture. Devi Durga ends misfortune and brings prosperity. Lion is the carrier of Devi Durga.  Devi Saraswati is the goddess of wisdom and learning. Swan is the carrier of Goddess Saraswati.

Solar Motif

Sun is the symbol of power. Sun motif is used in the oldest available evidence of  needlework in India. The sun motif is seen in the chakra with the cross.

Moon-Star Motifs

These patterns are mostly used by Muslims. The moon is associated with the sea tides. Human life is seen to resemble the high and low tides of sea. The star is presented as a natural partner of moon.

Chakra Motif

The wheel symbolizes universe and time. Inspiration is also sought from Lord Vishnu, who holds the Chakra and the Chakra motif at Sun Temple of Konark.

Jeevan Briksha Motif

A common motif reflecting the richness of Needle art of India. Jevan Briksha means the Tree of Life. The tree motif is seen in Persian, Syrian and  Korean ant. In Bengal the Jeevan Briksha Motif is used as a symbol of a goddess.


Footmark of Goddesses Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It is a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.

Fish Motif

Fish is considered as a symbol of fertility and “Fish Motif Kantha” is gifted to women at the time of her wedding. The fish also symbolizes life and good fortune.

Ratha Motif

Rath mean chariot. Rath an integral part of Hindu mythology and have been extensively described in epic Ramayana, Mahabharata etc.

Geometric  Pattern Motifs

Geometric patters such as  circles, triangles mostly found in Muslim Kantha works.

Swastik Motif

Used as a symbol of good fortune and auspicious. Recognized as the symbol of the sun, in both Hindu and Egyptian mythologies.

Sankha Motif

Sankha means Conch shell. It also denotes well being and prosperity.


The letters, like me, have been used universally V, W and O.

Lakshmir Jhampi Motif

Lakshmir Jhampi denotes the basket of Goddess Lakshmi, bearing wealth.

Motifs based on Ramayana epic

Kantha Motifs based on  marriage of Lord Rama and Sita, the battle between Lord Ram and Ravana, The Hanuman, Lav-Kush – children of Lord Ram and Sita.

Birds Motif

Birds are Seen to convey God’s messages.  The women mostly preferred pigeons and sparrows..

Betal Nut and Betal leaf Motifs

It is considered auspicious in all religious occasions.

Cats Motif

Goddess Sasthi is often seen riding a cat. She is believed to be protector of child.

Peacock Motif

Peacock is the carrier of deity Kartick.  Girls wishes of having husbands like Kartick.

Corn Sheaves Motif

Corn Sheaves denotes the Symbol of prosperity.

Camel Motif

The camel is associated with Islamic culture.

Ghar Motifs

Ghar means house. It is a symbol of stability in family

They used threads of multiple colours to bring make them attractive. In general, there is a main Central motif in bright colour, surrounded by other motifs. The Bengali Women’s imagination were not restricted to a particular concept or theme. Everything they wished, heard, seen found its place in their folk art.