Chamba Rumal - A Pahadi girl's youth and future on a fabric

Each day brings revelations, information and a window to the times gone by!

In today's time, who would have thought a piece of emotional attachment- to be precise a handcrafted handkerchief by girls in their teenage, put together stitch by stitch will carry a window to an era gone by and golden history and legacy of a pahadi art called Chamba rumaal (handcrafted handkerchief)- a treasure in the form of embroidery.

It used to be a treasured piece that a girl embroidered to eventually take with her as part of her trousseau to her married home, her new life after her wedding. In the olden times, when travelling was difficult and infrequent, with no phones or messages (forget whatsapp, instagram and video calling), probably this handcrafted handkerchief was the girl's support and friend in her new home while she would try to fit in, be her best.
A handcrafted handkerchief would transport her to her childhood and its memories!


This Embroidered handicraft was an important part of Pahadi weddings
Image courtesy -

Chamba rumal is an embroidered handicraft, one of many found in different parts of the country. While each embroidered handicraft has its own peculiarities and factors that makes them distinct from each other, these crafts are a depiction of art of that place and era for most of these embroideries take inspiration from their traditional/ regional art form either in the form of motifs, themes, colors or message. In a way, embroidered handicrafts are a true combination of art and story telling.

Technically  The word ‘ Chamba rumal ‘ implies a peculiar visual art form
that represents unique and charming embroidery done on a hand spun cloth with untwisted silken thread, which is greatly inspired from pahari painting


Chamba Rumal traditionally used the theological themes of Krishna's raas-leela of the epic Mahabharata, and from Ramayana and Gita Govinda and their popular scenes were depicted beautifully and painstakingly in this embroidered handicraft.


  Theme - Raas Leela          Theme - Gaddi Gaddan     

  Motifs and themes
A few examples of themes, motifs used in these handcrafted handkerchiefs

This Embroidered handicraft doesn’t just carry a legacy, but also carries a girl’s pre-wedding life story with it. Chamba rumal is a common sight in the drawing rooms of our parents’ generation especially in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, interstate marriages are a common practice amongst these states owing to their similar culture. This indeed has helped this embroidered handicraft stay alive and prominent in more than one place and in more than one way, hence we can see many variations of Chamba rumal in terms of colors used, themes, threads and compositions.

This particular craft is very close to my heart, as one handcrafted with immense love and care by a girl with dreams in her heart and hope in her eyes sits pretty in my own home. It was made by my mother in her maternal home and she carried this embroidered handicraft with her hundreds of miles away to my father's home- from a small place in Chamba district to Jammu city!