Lotus - Crafts

Because of its symbolic importance, the lotus plant has featured extensively in literature and art in South Asia. It has been used to make objects such as beads, clothing and lamps, and features in architecture.

Lotus and religious craftwork

A photograph of two rosaries made from shiny, black lotus seeds. From Kew's Economic Botany Collection.
Lotus seeds are used to make rosaries for those who hold the plant sacred. These rosaries are from Kew's Economic Botany Collection.

As a sacred plant to Buddhists, Hindus and Jains, the lotus is important in South Asian craftwork which tends to use natural objects as symbols. Lotus seeds are strung together to make rosaries for these faiths, while lotus leaf stalks are used to make wicks for temple lamps. In Myanmar, fibre is harvested from the stems of the lotus plant and spun into thread. This is then woven to produce valuable lotus fabric, which might be used as an altar cloth or for religious robes. A simplified shape of a lotus is used to decorate many craft objects such as carvings on houses, folk paintings and fabrics.