Tikuli – Yes, it is my real name and also a vanishing craft of India

The Name 

Tikuli, that’s unusual name . Oh , it is your nick name , right?

NO it is my proper name and please pronounce it properly. ( Ti- ku- li ) . Got it ?  .

It is not teekooleee , tipkali, tikli, tukli, kulti, takli , tikali, tiklu, chikuli, tiks , Tea Coolie for heavens sake or anything similar .

Yes I shortened it to Tiku because I got fed up of people across the globe pronouncing my name wrong. I loath to have my name spoken, read, or imagined incorrectly.

When you are born you are given an identity without your consent then you are stuck with it for all your life. These days many people change their names for just one reason that is it too long, too difficult to write or pronounce.

I did not. Actually I like the uniqueness of my name. It’s the people who need to know the magnificence of it.

It just became a pain to explain, repeat the name, the meaning and why the hell I was given this extraordinary, complex, unusual name.

My friends, teachers, relatives, neighbours all found it a tongue twister to say it and always wrote it wrong.

Today I read a post on WP about mispronouncing the name and thought I should explain a few things to the world about this historical name of mine.

Now that you have learned how to pronounce it right let us know what it means and why my parents especially my dad thought it was THE right name for me.

The vanishing craft 

Tikuli is a rare and unique piece of hand painting, more than 800 years old and has its origin in Patna, an ancient town of eastern India. Tikuli is derived from the word “Tikli” or “Bindi”- the dot like embellishment with glass base and gold foil leaves in variety of designs adorning the forehead of most women in India.

It  involves melting glass, blowing it into a thin sheet and making and adding traced pattern in natural colors and afterwards embellishing it with gold foil and jewels. Tikulis were mainly adorned by Queens and Aristocrats women of yore. Jewels were put on gold leaves according to the status of the women in the society and these beautiful hand crafted Bindis were a proud possession of women in India.

The craft, however, became victim of rapid industrialization with machine produced “bindis” invading the market and  got lost in corridors of industrialization.

Patna-based Ashok Kumar Biswas has almost single-handedly revived this craft.

He has fused the tikuli craft with another art form of Bihar, Madhubani, to make decorative wall plates, coasters, table mats, wall hangings, trays, pen stands and other utility items.

After being in oblivion for decades, the art of making tikuli is showing signs of resurrection — as an art as well as a good business proposition for poor families of Bihar villages. Only difference now is that instead of embellishing foreheads of Indian women, tikulis are adorning drawing-room walls and tables not only in various parts of India but countries across the globe.

This photograph is sourced from the internet and the credit goes to the rightful owner. 

This painting is done on the glazed surface of hard board plates. The process of making these paintings is a very tedious and time-consuming. From cutting the hard board in different sizes to painting sharp black lines in one stroke for smoothness and fineness, the process involves 15 stages. Fine brushes and enamel paints are used to make these paintings. These paintings are available in different sizes and shapes and are heat proof and water proof and are used for interior decorations like wall hangings and utility items like table mats and coasters.

An ancient craft of the Mughal times, it is truly beautiful.

I feel happy that there are people who are investing their time and  money to revive the beautiful Indian crafts and art forms.

I also found that Tikuli is one of the main themes for Nepali and Bhojpuri folk songs.In many of the Hindi literature books it has been used as a symbol of happy wedded life, an identity of a married woman.  Tikuli is still the part of tribal jewelry worn by the Santhal tribe of Bihar.

Patna and Harihans cities are famous for manufacturing of Tikuli craft. The chief markets of Tikuli are Banaras, Patna and Calcutta.

The glass tikuli/tikuli used as bindi are sometimes found in village fairs. I have searched everywhere for them but not  found a single piece till now.

The reason dad chose this name for me 

I was born nine years after my brother . My parents were longing for a girl child and dad said it gave him immense joy to see his wish fulfilled. tikuli is considered auspicious in Hindu culture and the bride’s bindi is also symbolic of the “Anu”, the point of beginning of all creation and hence of the infinite potential of the women as is signified by the concept of Shakti, the cosmic female element. It is worn on the forehead between the eyebrows , a place known to be source of power and balance , the sixth chakra or the third eye.

It is mostly used as a decorative accessory  in modern times.

Dad always told me that every human being is unique and has tremendous source of inner energy and hence my name.  He said I was the pride and symbol of love and female creator in his eyes. Mom and dad felt that my birth was fulfillment of their wish for a new source of creation on earth.

My parents respected that uniqueness in me and so do I as a mother to my children.

Do We Need Sur-Names or Family Names? 

One thing I am unable to understand is the need to add a family name, mom’s last name or dad’s last name . Why is it so important ? As a teenager I remember an argument I had with my basketball coach during a selection session. 

“What’s your name “


” Huh? Tiku what ?”

“T.I.K.U.L.I. Nothing.” (I had dropped my surname as dad and I felt my name was my identity and there was no need to add anything to it. This conversation proved Why?)

” You must be having a surname. It is essential to write it in this form”




“Aha, Hindu . your name is uncommon so could not guess.  So are you from UP, Rjasthan or Bihar ?” ” Kayastha or sunar varma?”

He was now getting on to my nerves. I felt like strangling him then and there. 

“How does it matter ? “” Am I being selected for the caste or religious group I belong to?”

“No, no just asking. We need to follow rules”.

“Does the rule say anything other than providing the silly surname?” 

” Hey be proud of your family name. It gives us our identity and shows the culture and religion we belong to.”

” I give a hoot to religion and my name alone gives me enough identity. I am better off without family names that ignite caste, religion differences . Humanity is what I believe in, nothing else and I DO NOT  write any family name.”

” You will when you get married”

“Watch me.”

I did not get selected for the State team. I do not regret it for it shows how limited our mentality is and that I do not wish to be part of it at any cost.

I never adopted a family name , still don’t write it but it is mandatory in many of the govt. procedures and it sucks big time.

I legally never dropped my family name and regret that.  Too much of a hassle changing it on all govt. and legal documents . The system sucks.

I defy to write my husband’s name, family name or add any such thing to my name. Take it or lump it. I do not wish to be imposed with any such social bondage. Thank you.

Why is it so Important to show to the world which family, community, state, culture, religion etc  you belong to? We talk of harmony, oneness, humanity and then we go on to create such wide differences. 

Tell me would your views change about me  after knowing which state, caste, religion, country I belonged to?  Would you start looking at the Tikuli you know in a different light ? If Yes , then I feel sorry for your limited thinking. 

21 thoughts on “Tikuli – Yes, it is my real name and also a vanishing craft of India

  1. Tikuli – a very unusual name…. but now i know the meaning of it !!!! was good to read the explanation…..

    Thank you T for appreciating. Keep reading.


  2. lovely, not only did i get to know about an art form, am glad to know that it is being resurrected ! also the reason why u were names as Tikuli is praise worthy ! my cheers to your parents !!.

    Thank you so much Priya. Yes I am blessed to be born in a family where the birth of a girl child is source of joy.


  3. wow tough had and idea about the name but never knew it the history behind it..thanks for sharing this Tiku 🙂

    P.S. We’ve given our daughter a Sankskrit name which trust me is not that complex or a tongue twister as people may call it..just that it’s never heard and hence is unique..when I tell people her name they always look at me with shocked eyes and ask me to repeat it yet again and even after that they get it wrong…and they tell me that we’ve done a wrong thing that my daughter would regret having this name when she grows up that her school friends would never be able to pronounce it blah blah…to which we say that it’s a unique name and not difficult..and leave the head ache of my daughter to us don’t you bother just as well…sigh..people and their prejudiced minds !!!

    P.P.S. I never got your name wrong,yippie 🙂

    🙂 🙂 wonderful to know you gave your daughter a Sanskrit name. I also gave my sons typical Indian names Shubhang ( vishnu’s name) and Aditya ( the sun God) .What is your daughter’s name Sribby? Please share. You are right People are prejudiced especially in north I have seen it a lot.

    It really feels good to have some part of the ancient culture and heritage attached to you in some way. I wish I could find some Tikuli’s ( the glass bindis) I saw one in Dilli Haat long ago but never had the camera to click and it wasnt for sale. ;(
    P.S – A hug for getting my name right. love you.


  4. I share this problem with you. 🙂

    always they were stupid people deserving pity from me whoever wont spell or pronounce it correct.

    liked your number.


  5. Hi Tikuli! I am serious now. You really deserve a pat on the back after the amount of research you have put up with both the posts and incorporating it as a beautiful post. Cheers


  6. That was some terrific information Tikuli! I must admit that I belonged to the crowd that thought Tikuli was your nickname. It reminded me of the cute Bengali, rather musical, nicknames we have (sample Rumpa, Jhumpa, Tumpa). But now I know the art form it stands for and I must say it was a unique choice made by your parents. 🙂


  7. Pingback: The Name Game « My Scribbling Journey

  8. Pingback: The Name Game « This & That

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