A motif is the most basic unit from which a design is formed. It is generally developed from different combination of geometrical shapes. Motifs are repeated in different ways to create a pattern whereas patterns are repeated to create designs. Therefore a motif has a distinct identity of its own in a pattern or a design. Indian motifs has its own heritage value and are closely linked to natural, cultural, religious and socio-economic factors prevailing in Indian society. Most of the traditional motifs are often inspired from nature.
PEACOCK MOTIF - Peacock which is now the national bird of India is the symbol of Indian ethnicity, tradition and exquisiteness. It is often associated with rain and in southern part the peacock is considered a vahana or vehicle for lord Muruga. In Indian textiles this motif is printed, woven or embroidered with different colour combinations.
GOOSE OR HAMSA MOTIF
This motif represents the symbol of spirituality and vahana of Brahma, saraswathi. It is used in woven and embroidered textiles in southern India and known for its highly stylized intricate forms. We can see the motif usage in Kasuthi embroidery and Kalamkari prints etc.
Lotus flower symbolizes prosperity, wealth and closely associated with goddess Sri Lakshmi. Most of the Indian textiles use Lotus as the main motif. It is seen in kanta, kasuti embroidery and woven textiles like ikat, paithani etc. In Hinduism it represents Sun and Creation, in Buddhism and Jainism it symbolizes perfection and purity.
PAISLEY OR MANGO MOTIF
This motif is used in wide range of Indian textiles. During British rule they carried Kashmir shawls to Paisley, a town in Scotland and there they adapted these motifs and it began to popularize as Paisley pattern. These patterns are exceptionally ornate, classic and royal. In south India these motifs are famous in kanchipuram silk sarees and are known as Manga butta.
TREE OF LIFE MOTIF
This motif illustrates Tree with Flowers, Fruits, Birds and Animals giving an idea that all life on Earth is related and depends on each other. Lot of colours is used in this motif and are popularly seen in embroidery and kalamkari designs.