Applique art is one of the ancient folk art in India. The term applique means 'to apply'. In this art, one piece of fabric is sewn over another fabric for decorative purposes. This is also known as patchwork. It has importance in many ritual ceremonies. Apart from decorating royalty clothing, applique was used to decorate a temple's ceremonial umbrellas and tents. This art is practiced all over India. Andhra Pradesh, Gujrat, Orissa, Rajasthan, and Madurai are the main centers for this craft. Each state developed its style of applique. It is a sight to behold whenever a temple car rolls down the streets of the city with the `thumbnail' or cloth pillar swaying in a gentle breeze. They add color to the festive occasion. Thombai is a cylindrical-shaped hanging decoration filled with applique work mostly used in South India. In every temple, the festival chariot is mostly used, which is incomplete without Thombai.
In the olden days, the craftsmen used to make canopies, banners, and umbrellas in applique for all major festivals held in Madurai's famous temple. As the craft's popularity spread far and wide through the mouth of pilgrims visiting the city, the craftsmen started making other decorative and utility items as well. Various products of applique work such as `Thombai', `Vasamalai' (arch work), Thoranam (ornamental artwork hung on door frames), etc., are used in the temple to enhance the aesthetic look. Thombai is available in various lengths and diameters. Mr. Sendrai Perumal, for more than a decade is into making temple applique artwork and decoration items in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu.
For more details: http://www.dsource.in/resource/applique-cloth-pillar-madurai