Qilasaaz means the Qila with its accoutrement. It could also be construed to refer to the women of the project as those who make the Qilas of Mahmudabad and Bilehra function.


Qilasaaz was started in 1992 by Vijaya  Khan, Rani of Mahmudabad. Its principal purpose is to enable women to earn a viable income through their traditional and distinctive skills in embroidery and sewing. It was hoped that these skills, some already fading away, would also be preserved through this process. Many of the women associated with Qilasaaz have been connected, through links extending over several generations, with the household of the Raja of Mahmudabad. Within this context, they had acquired skills, passed down from generation to generation, that were deployed making various household and personal requirements like quilts, cushions, curtains and traditional clothes always embellishing them with a range of sewing skills and embroideries including Chikan, Kamdani, Daraj- Katau, Tukri and Zardozi.

Inextricable to the expertise in needlecraft of the women of this project, is the insistence that every child who comes under its ambit goes to a good school. The women are encouraged that they have independent bank accounts and over the years they have fine-tuned their notions and attitudes especially with regard to their family’s well being, the importance of education, health and future planning.

Qilasaaz has been appreciated in many countries of the world and has achieved the distinction of a standard of workmanship that has the recognition of museums both in India and abroad. Samplers made by our project are exhibited at the Calico Textile Museum, Ahmedabad as well as the Whitworth Gallery, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK.