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Dongariya Kondh Embroidery


Embroidery done on shawls (known as 'kapdagonda'), by the Dongariya Kondh community 

Community and region

The Dongariya Kondhs who live in the Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, across the Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha. They traditionally make these for themselves, and also for sale since around 2010.


Dongariya Kondh women


Kapdagondas are embroidered horizontally. Motifs used are the same, but designs vary according to the woman embroidering.


Red, yellow, green and dark brown


Linga: red or dark brown triangle representing the mountains where the Dongariya Kondhs live


Krali: red triangle signifying an axe and the blood of animals sacrificed during festivals


Akka: larger triangles in yellow and red symbolizing turmeric and leaves


Kairi: diagonal lines in red, yellow and green representing farms


Kanaka: circles in red outlined in green, signifying the eyes

Materials and Tools

Cloth bought from the Domb community, slightly rough to touch


Thread, which was traditionally dyed by the women, but is now mostly bought from the market


Katri, a small curved dagger-like instrument



Women embroider in their spare time: it takes a minimum of two weeks to complete a shawl. The time she takes also depends on the skill and time available to the embroiderer.  


Shawls are worn by men and women, in either twos or threes: they are wrapped around the waist and slung over the chest, and may also be thrown around the neck. They are usually worn during harvest festivals.


Monetary exchange has come to prevail: the Domb (a Scheduled Caste), who used to supply cloth for Kapdagondas in exchange for crops and fruits, now sell a shawl-sized piece for Rs 150 to Rs 200. Likewise, Kapdagondas are now sold to government agencies, entrepreneurs and to foreigners who buy them directly from the Dongariya Kondhas at weekly markets.