Centre for Community Knowledge


Ambedkar University Delhi


Notes on the Odam Boats

of Lakshwadeep 2006.

Dr. Lotika Varadarajan, ethno-historian, is the current (2013-15) holder of the Tagore National Fellowship to catalogue the Textile Collection at the National Museum, New Delhi.

Five decades of active ethnographic fieldwork, from the early 1960s to the 2010s, has led Dr. Lotika Varadarajan, to develop a working method that connected chronological sources with material objects, technological and work procedures and oral sources. Observing, befriending, recording, collecting and surveying led her to collect materials and amassing information on cultural and social aspects of two major cultural traditions in India – textilesand seafaring.

The research material covers a multi-disciplinary study ranging from mythology and symbolism, to social, economic and cultural history, and crafts and material culture from India and connected cultures. Publications and writing by the researcher, based on this research material, has led to new dimensions emerging in the scope and interpretation in all subject areas.

Contents of the Collection

The Lotika Varadarajan Ethnographic Collection includes books, field notes, journals, texts, audio/video recordings, and photographs have been donated to CCK. The Centre is currently in the process of classifying, cataloguing, annotating and digitizing the contents of this collection along the following broad areas:

Textile Traditions: She has extensively researched on historic South Asian textiles as cultural knowledge artefacts, and establishing intriguing links between European textiles from 17th century onwards and Indian aesthetics, symbols and motifs. Her explorations in textile traditions within the country trace the evolution of some art cultures, like kalamkari; craft practices, like silk weaving and looming traditions, and other technologies.

Seafaring Traditions : Her work on maritime knowledge covers a wide range of research on pre-industrial seafaring with an emphasis on technology. From sea-faring traditions of traditional oceanic and river-based communities from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep, Bengal, including boat design and technologies of building, navigation practices, astronomical charting, and nautical knowledge including connections with communities across the globe.

The archive of Indian Maritime Traditions is online at 

Lotika Varadarajan Ethnographic Archive

Fustat - Dye Patterned Textile

(Kalpasutra; circa 1446 AD)

Photographed at the Hemchandra Acharya Gnynana Mandir, Patan, Gujarat.