‘Tree of life’ palempore, Coromandel Coast, India

Made in India, c.1740-1780.

This palampore, or bed curtain, was made in Palakollu, Andhra Pradesh, on the Coromandel Coast of India in the mid 1700s. It is made of cotton which has been painted by hand with mordants and natural dyes. The central field displays a single, dominant tree rising from a rocky mound on which stand two peacocks and six deer. The graceful lines traced by the tree branches support a variety of fantastic flowers and fruit, including chrysanthemums, peonies, tulips and pomegranates.

The tree of life ...


Bed hanging made of cream-coloured hand spun and hand woven cotton calico. The design is of the Tree of Life and has been hand painted using kalamkari penwork and plant dyeing with mordants. The design depicts a large central tree populated with birds, trailing flowers and leaves. The foothills below the tree show intricate details of deer, scenery and two peacocks. The tree borders depict small trees, flowers and more rambling deer.


2170 mm
2692 mm


This palampore was made in India between 1740 and 1780

Hand painted Kalamkari (kalam - brush, kari - work) on cotton calico, which was the traditional method of dyeing and colour patterning used by Indian Master dyers for centuries.

For the blue dyes Indian dyers used natural indigo (an indelible dye) and for reds and related shades, madder with various mordants such as alum, which gave pink and red, and iron which gave violet. The design for the palampores was first drawn on paper, the outline perforated, then transferred to the base cotton cloth by dusting through the perforations with charcoal powder.


Purchased with the assistance of Mrs B Horwitz, Horwitz Corporation Pty Ltd
20 April, 1982

Cite this Object

'Tree of life' palempore, Coromandel Coast, India 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 November 2017, <https://ma.as/196121>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/196121 |title='Tree of life' palempore, Coromandel Coast, India |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=22 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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