1.1wild asses of Kutch
Kutch is the drought prone desert region which lies in the north west of gujarat. Kutch is famous
across the world not only for its vibrant tribes and communities but also for its embroidery done
by native women. There are more than 10 types of embroideries practised alone in the district of
Kutch. Women produce these embroideries in their leisure time and in the absence of the natural
colours in the surrounding they have created their own separate world full of bright colours. All
of these embroideries belong to different communities and each embroidery is unique to that
particular community only. The various communities in Kutch can in fact identify the social
status of a person from the embroidery from their clothes. The women folk who carry out this
embroidery take inspiration from day to day incidents to create the motif..these embroidered
garments are given as a part of the girl’s dowry during her marriage. Thus, in this way the art of
embroidery is passed on from mother to daughter.
1.2map of Kutch
Kutch is the district in western state of gujarat. It covers an area of 45,612sq /km and is the third
largest district after ladakh and barmer. Kutch is surrounding by gulf of Kutch in the south and
arabian sea in the west. The great and the small rann of Kutch surround the northern and eastern
parts. Kutch forms the border between sindh and gujarat. Banni grasslands with their seasonal
marshy wetland are famous for their ecological importance and they form the outer belt of the
rann of Kutch. Kutch is a place which becomes wet and dry at irregular intervals. A large part of
district is a shallow wet land known as the rann of Kutch. In his book, “Kutch people and their
handicrafts” mr.p.j. jethi very aptly states that “the desert is in Kutch but the Kutch is not a
1.3 Great rann of Kutch
Over a period of time many communities and groups came to Kutch in search of grazing land for
their cattle. They reached this region after centuries of migration from their homeland; they
settled here and continued their own customs and rituals. Kutch is an interesting example of how
various ethnic groups have survived over centuries holding onto their traditional life and
handicrafts. Even today in Kutch we can observe various nomadic semi nomadic and artisan
groups which have migrated from sindh (lohana’s, bhatia’s, khatri’s), from saurashtra (soratiya,
Ahir, girnara) from north gujarat especially the vagad region (prajapati).
1.4 various people of Kutch
VARIOUS TRIBES AND COMMUNITIES IN KUTCH ARE:
Jat of Kutch is nomadic muslim community engaged in cattle breeding. They are considered to
be one of the lowest communities in Kutch. Jats have descended from an area called half situated
in iran; they came to sindh and Kutch to search for new grazing lands for their cattle. The Jats
can be further divided as dhanetahs Jats, gharasiya Jats and fakirani Jats.
1.5 Jat woman
“hari” means god and “jan” means people, the name Harijan was given to mahatma gandhi to
meghwals. Meghwals originally descended from marwar of rajasthan. The Harijans decorate
their house with cow dung, mud and mirror.
1.7 Harijan woman
The Ahir is believed to be the descendents of lord krishna they use to live in gokul mathura about
a thousand years ago as shepards. The Ahir communities are divided into four they are:
pranthariya, machhoya, bhoureecha, sorathiya. Ahir’s were once farmers who once use to sell
milk and ghee, but have now changed over to transport or salt. The costume depicts the caste of
the Ahir community. Their costumes are generally brightly coloured and tie-dyed and richly
embroidered. The older married women wear plan black and subdued colours with odhni of
mashru with embroidered border.
The origin of Rabari’s is unclear as some believe they descended from lord shiva and some
experts believe that they came from afghanistan through baluchistan while some believe that
they came from sindh. The Rabari are nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes, they move from village
to village by throwing away their household material. The Rabari’s are subdivided into 3 types
they are : dhebariya Rabari, wagadia Rabari and desi Rabari. The Rabari women wear heavily
embroidered blackless choli with tie-dyed odhni and their costumes are entirely black in colour.
The men of this community dress in complete white outfit. The Rabari’s are illiterate and they do
not trust doctors and they only use ayurvedic medicine.
1.11 A group of Rabari women
CULTURE AND CUSTOMS:
Equal reverence was showed by the Kutch rulers at temples, mosques and dargahs though they
were hindu’s. This same kind of cross worship is prevalent even today in many parts of Kutch.
This is one of the reason that it becomes very difficult for common people to differentiate
between the hindu, muslim community of Kutch. Interestingly we also observe the prevalence of
popular religion-the worship of saints, mystics and hero’s.
1.13Ramdev pir maharaj
Kutch with its vibrant colours and lifestyle boosts of many fairs which takes place throughout the
year. There are fairs of “motayaksh”, “ fair of hajipir”, “the dada mekan fair”, “sitla-saatam fair”,
“fair jaisal-toharan”, “bhujiya fair on naagpanchami”, “ramdevpir festival”, “momay mata fair”,
“ravechi mata fair”, “jogninar mata fair”. People from all over Kutch come to “mata no madh”
on foot for the special navratri fair held each year. The other biggest fair in Kutch is the “jakkhas
religious fair”, where people from different communities come wearing their traditional dresses.
FOOD AND COSTUMES:
Simple livng and high thinking is what the people of Kutch believe in. Their staple food
generally consists of rotlas made of millet (bajri) along with buttermilk (chass) and jaggery (gur).
The people of Kutch also relish khichdi made of rice and pulses. The tea has become a universal
drink in the Kutchi household today. On special occasions they use groundnut oil to prepare the
The traditonal Kutchi cuisine generally included rotlas, roti, curd, buttermilk, dal, curry,
vegetables, papad, pickles, dry rotlis, theplas, khakra and pakwan.
Preparations like khaman dhokla, safed dhokla, ganthia, undhiya, muthia, raita, dahi wada,
kachori, bhajiya made of brinjal, bitter gourd, lady’s finger, Kutchi dabeli, puri shak,
bhakrawadi, papdi have found place in the Kutchi cuisine today.
Kutchi sweets include adadiya pak, gulab pak, son papadi, mava na penda, mohanthal,
shrikhand, moda satha, meetha satha, barfi, and mehsur pak.
Dhana dal, meetha pan, pan supari, are served after meals.
Costumes of the Kutchi people are very unique and heavily embroidered. They use mirror work
and embroidery as an important part of their garments. The embroidery and designs differ from
community to community and these differences are generally used to identify the community to
which the person belongs.
In rural parts of Kutch the women wear chaniya cholis all the year round. The typical Kutchi
costume generally is incomplete without “abha” or “kanjari”, an “abha” is a typical choli worn
by the womenfolk of the tribes while “kanjari” is long embroidered blouse with mirror work.
1.18 Kutchi women
Menfolk in Kutch wear loose trousers, long sleeved under-jacket, a short coat, a silk- bordered
cloth. Most men prefer white clothes but the muslim men prefer to wear coloured clothes.
There are many different crafts practised in Kutch other than embroidery a few of them are:
1. LEATHER EMBROIDERY: the artistic craft of leather embroidery is carried out in the
district of banni. The locally available hide is process for a long time with water, latex
and lime and jhilka of babul before it is used to manufacture products. The artisans
generally used the motifs of fish, peacock, flowers and buttis as common decoration.
1.20 leather work
2. AJRAKH PRINT: ajrakh is a popular traditional craft of Kutch which means “keep it
today”. The khatri community has been the carrier of this craft since times immoriable
and the technique is handed down from father to son. The Harijan artist trained under the
khatris has now started pursuing this craft. The two important centres of Kutch is
dhamadka and khavda.
1.21 Ajrakh print
3. BATIK PRINT : batik is a resist printing technique which has spread to many parts of
india from Kutch. Batik is an important and attractive craft of Kutch. Mundra and anjar
are the main centres of batik print.
4. ROGAN PAINTING: the craft of rogan painting is more than 100 years old. The hand
pounded castor oil is boiled till it is turned into a paste. The coloured powder is then
mixed with castor and the colour is prepared. The design is painted on half of the cloth
and then the impression is transferred on the other half of the fabric.
1.23 rogan painting
5. BANDHINI (TIE-DYE): Bandhini is the famous handy work of Kutch and it is very
closely associated and deep rooted with the social customs. It is considered to be very
auspicious of hindus as well the muslims. A variety of products like saris, dresses shawls,
odhini are produced by bandhini. The main centres of bandhini are mandvi, bhuj, khavda,
dhamanka, tera, baara and anjar.
1.24 bandhani saree
6. MASHRU WEAVING: mashru is majorly produced by Ahir. The Ahir women prepare
choli’s odhini and dresses out of mashru fabric. The main centres of mashru weaving are
mandvi, motasalaya, godhra, daun and rayan.
1.25 mashru products
7. WOOLLEN NAMADA: the pinjara community of Kutch produce the woollen nandams
using the locally available wool. Impurities from the wool are removed and the wool is
then turned into ropes. The design is then executed on a thick waxed cloth and it is then
pressed with hand to set the wool properly. Mundra, todia, gagodar are the main namada
8. WOOD CARVING: wood carving has a very interesting history in Kutch. The locally
available teak wood and babul wood is used for middle relief carving and also for a
variety of products’ like bed posts, cradles, book ends, swings, chapatti rollers. Wood
carving is majorly carried out in the towns of ludia, dumado and dhordo.
9. TERRACOTTA: the terracotta craft of Kutch finds its origins in the history of mankind.
Terracotta is generally carried out by the prajapati community of Kutch. The clay is
collected from the lakes and ponds and processed. The articles are made and sun dried
and then painted. The main centres of terracotta are kunja, batak, gharba, diva, jabudi,
lodia and khavda.
1.27 terracotta products
10. LIPAN (MUD WALL PAINTING): mud wall painting are generally observed in the
banni area of the Harijan and Rabari folks. Women folk traditionally depict their dreams
in the painting. The clay which is collected is mixed with camel dung and kept for a few
days after which the designs are worked. Women folk add abhala (tiny mirrors) .after the
walls have dried they use white earth colour to give it a wash. This trend of lipan is now
being assimilated into the urban lifestyle.
1.28 lipan in a bhunga
11. SILVER ENGRAVING: silver engraving in Kutch is highly intricate. The silver is first
moulded into required size and shape. It is then filled with kil and the designs are marked
on its surface after which the engraving is done with the help of hammer and engraving
1.29 silver engraved teapot
2.REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Embroidery is essentially a decorative needle work of ancient variety, where in the deisgns
and pictures by stitching strands of some material onto another material. Embroderies
generally use silk cotton or wool threads stitched onto an evenly woven fabric. Embroidery
can be executed in many other non traditional materials like leather strands, wire, felt or
plastic sheeting. Embroidery of Kutch has found place not only in the hearts of the indian
people but also the world over. The embroideries are carried out majorly by womenfolk
during their leisure time. The art is now dying because of lack of patronage and due to
The different types of embroideries in Kutch are:
1) Aari embroidery
2) Ahir embroidery
3) Rabari embroidery
4) Kutchi bharat
5) Mutva embroidery
6) Jat embroidery
The craft of Aari embroidery has existed on the indian soil since the 12th century. Aari work has
also finds its mention in rig-veda. It was reintroduced and patronized by the mughals courts. The
craft of Aari flourished under the rein of the mughals emperor akbar. Aari is a very fine and
elaborately form of embroidery which had highly refined floral motifs which were favoured by
most royal during that period, mainly the mughals. Owing to the mughals influence the motifs
were largely influenced by the persian taste. The craftsmen who carried out this craft of Aari
embroidery majorly belonged to the muslim community.
2.7Aari embroidery : flower motif
Aari embroidery is also known as “mochi bharat”( cobblers stitches) because the embroidery is
carried out by the mochi community. The aar is a hooked needle used in the Aari embroidery.
This needle is similar is to the one used in crochet to produce Aari embroidered fabric. In earlier
times the Aari embroidery was generally carried out on gajji silk to produce beautiful designs.
Aari embroidery is very elaborate and time consuming since this embroidery is incorporated for
filling work. The art of Aari embroidery had flourished under the patronage of the royal families
of Kutch and saurashtra.
Today Aari embroidery has become extinct because of the lack of patronage. This work can
today only seen in aina mahal the Kutch museum and the bhartiya snaskriti darshan in bhuj.
2.8Aari embroidery : parrot motif
2.9 contemporary Aari work
Ahir are the indian sub caste synonymous with the yadav kul. The Ahir are divided into 5 main
subcaste : pranthariya, mochhaya, boricha, sorathiya, and wagadia. Ahirs were mainly farmers
and are still occupied in cattle breeding and dealing in milk and butter. Ahirs eat non vegetarian
food and their staple diet is chicken, mutton, fish and eggs. The mother tongue is gujarati but
they speak a dialect in gujarati which is known as khandeshi or Ahirani. The women folk carry
out the embroidery in their leisure time. The Ahir tribe is famous for its intricate hand
The Ahir are considered a pastoral community which also has a long tradition in the field of
embroidery, according to “parmaben balasara” for women embroidery becomes a visual
language of colour. Threads and stitches also convey a very different message about the womens
martial status, age and clan. The way an Ahir women dresses has history to it. Among the many
tribes of Kutch Ahir tribe is the only tribe where the females do not wear veil. The reason of not
wearing a veil goes back a few centuries where an Ahir maid was made to walk over the dead
body of her own son to save the young prince of the kingdom. She walked over the corpse
wearing a veil that covered her face, when the couturiers asked her to remove the veil and walk
over the corpse again she did so with her head held high and showing no emotions. Thus, since
then Ahir women do not veils in honour of “dhuna makwani”.
2.10 Ahir woman
When a child is born he is adorned with heavily embroidered clothes. By the age of 10 the
embroidery becomes little subdued and by the time the child becomes 15 the embroidery
becomes very less on their cloths within a few years they shift completely to white clothes. On
other hand the unmarried girls skirt could be black with tie dye or printed in one solid colour but
a married womens skirt will be embroidered heavily during her early days of marriage. After a
while, she wears more sedate clothes. A married girls blouse has a embroidered bust.
Ahir embroidery has a very high visual appeal. Simple designs and pale colours are not
employed in this embroidery by far Ahirs have the highest number of figurative motifs the Ahir
achieve the abundance by the way of repetition. Among the different sub groups each
community has certain motifs which are exclusive to that group.
2.11old Ahir work
The origins of the Rabari community are unclear, some believe they migrated from jaisalmer in
rajasthan while some believe they came from further west from baluchistan, while yet others
believe that they are descendants of lord shiva.
The Rabaris is a big community and are further divided as: dhebariya Rabari, vagadiya Rabari
and Kutchi/desi Rabari. The Rabari community is essentially a nomadic community, their
occupation was cattle rearing and grazing. The language that the Rabari people speak is different
from the language generally spoke in Kutch. Their language has a strong marwari and punjabi
accent mixed with the local dialect.
2.14old Rabari work
Most of the Rabaris are still semi – nomads they live in houses made of mud and cow dung with
thatched roofs, these houses are called “bhungas”. The Rabari women decorate their houses
beautifully with “lipan” and “abhlas”. Their houses are spotlessly clean and their hut interiors
2.15 Rabari bhunga
Rabari is a vegetarian clan who is against the drinking of alcohol too. Their wedding meal
includes 'laddu', 'lapsi', sweet rice or savoury 'khichado'.
2.16 Dhebariya Rabari contemporary work
According to sources jaisalmer in rajasthan was the main centre of the Rabaris. Around the
middle of the 1st millennium a.d. a muslim king fell in love with a young Rabari girl but the
proposal was refused by the community. The king threatened to annihilate the entire Rabaris
community and that is when the Rabaris out of fear broke their camp over night with the help of
a muslim man. While the Rabaris were escaping the man was killed by the king. It is believed
that the Rabari women from then on wore black to mourn his death. The loyalty of this man
helped ease the interaction between the hindu Rabaris and the muslims.
2.18 Rabari women at Kalaraksha centre
Apart from their clothes another interesting aspect of the Rabari women are their earrings. The
earring is in an abstract form of snake. The nagali earrings resemble the double shape of
mushroom where after the rains the snakes hide under the hood of the mushroom.
2.19 Rabari woman
Rabaris have an unwritten dress code which reveals their social stature. For women a blouse
pleated at the breast sets a married woman apart from the unmarried girls. Likewise the older
women and widows of the clan wear plain black or brown clothes with no embroidery on it.
There is a marked difference even in the shawl (odhani) of Rabari women. Unmarried Rabari
girls wear white odhanis while the older and widowed women wear black or brown odhanis. A
recently married Rabari woman will have red tie dyed patterns on her odhani. And in some sub
castes the women embroider the centre seam and add up mirrors. While some others embroider
2.20 Dhebariya Rabari
The most awaited festival of Rabari is dushera where the whole clan dances with grace and
enjoyment for the entire night. Rabris worship mother goddess 'momai mata' , 'hingraj' , lord
shiva's incarnation called 'bavo', 'bhairao' and lord krishna's incarnation called 'vedvala.
The Kutchi bharat includes a vast variety of embroideries which are not classified under any
specific type of embroidery. The Kutchi bharat is not practised by a particular tribe or caste and
even the general people living in Kutch know the craft of Kutchi bharat. It is a microscopic
design which is carried out in various and vivid different colours and is one of the most
outstanding and superb amongst different embroideries of Kutch. Different types of Kutchi
bharat is done in different parts of Kutch, each area has a different type of Kutchi bharat carried
out by its people for example – lohana’s of khavda, jadejas of ravapar. The different types of
Kutchi embroidery are – kachho bharat, pako bharat, noyran bharat, kharek bharat, kambari
bharat, chopad bharat, gufuo bharat, taka bharat. The word pako in gujarati or Kutchi means
solid. This name is given to the embroidery because the stitches in pkao bhaarat are densely and
closely done. The stitches are carried out in such a way that the base cloth is not seen. Kacho
bharat is not as strong as the pako bharat and is less intricate. Noyran is a cross between kacho
and pako bharat that is it is neither as strong as the pako bharat nor as weak as the kacho bharat
and the base cloth is seen very little though it is filled with bigger stitches than pako bharat.
2.23 Noyran embroidery
2.24 Kutchi embroidery
This particular craft has evolved out of the interest that women harboured for needle craft in the
dry region of Kutch. The women engaged in embroidery during their leisure time which they got
after completing a days household chores of a hard day of work at the fields. The women filled
colour in their lives through this needle craft since their surroundings were relatively colourless
and barren. For women this craft was a medium of telling their stories, they embroidered their
lives and times onto fabrics and passed them down to their children explaining the relevance of
each motif used and what each motif signified. Over a period of time this craft gained
importance and it became imperative for a girl to know “kalai, bunai and silai” to find a groom.
The women embroidered the wedding dress and dowry articles for their daughters and by the end
of a decade the mother could ready the dowry for her daughters.
The mutwa embroidery is more intricate and delicate as compared to other forms of embroidery
produced in the “banni area”. It is inlayed with tiny round mirrors and adorned with minute
stitches. Mutwa embroidery is very expensive embroidery practiced by muslim herders who live
in only 11 villages of the banni district of Kutch. There are sub styles of mutwa: mukko, chikan,
chopat, katri, & gotanv. Often minute renderings of other local styles they use combinations of
chain, reverse chain, herringbone, satin, romanian knot, square chain double running, lazy daisy,
and hemming stitches. Mirrors are stitched with the help of interlace stitch. Mukko embroidery is
done with the help of metallic threads and is carried on, on richer fabrics like silk.
A small group of muslim herders are known as mutwa. According to the legend they moved
from saudi arabia to sindh almost 500 years back and moved to Kutch 150 years back. The
mutwas follow the bedouin fate as they belong to the arbaisthani community. The mutwas are
culturally very different from other communities belonging to the “thar parkar” origin. The
mutwa community engage in one of the most tedious firms of embroidery produced in the
district of Kutch.
2.26 Women making Mutva embroidery
Young girls from the age of 7-8 began learning and preparing this magnificent work of art which
they take along as a part of their dowry. Thus, the inherent quality of this craft was handed down
from generation to generation. Mutwa comes as a brethe of fresh air in the barren arid salts plains
The Jat community are very loyal and they are very rigid about any changes in their customs and
religion. The three sects are known for their embroidery styles which reflect their tradition and
the custom practiced in their native origin yet it distinguishes from each other. The design create
a unique identity as well as a statement of style and elegance
the distinctive style of embroidery which was practiced by the women for their personal use
which was the identity of the community along with giving away aspects like marital status and
age. The power of Jat embroidery approaches mostly from the closely stitched pattern that
completely plasters the cloth. Jat women even carryout microscopic mirror work embroidery that
has found its place in market.
2.29 Gharasiya Jat embroidery
Jats came to india 500 years ago. Jat of Kutch is nomadic muslim community engaged in cattle
breeding. They are considered to be one of the lowest communities in Kutch. Jats have
descended from an area called “halaf” situated in iran; they came to sindh and Kutch to search
for new grazing lands for their cattle. The Jats can be further divided as dhanetahs Jats, gharasiya
Jats and fakirani Jats by the occupation which they choose, like the Jats who choose agriculture
as their occupation came to be known as gharasiya Jats, those choose their ancestral occupation
were known as dhanetahs Jats and the one whose chose to study koran were known as fakirani.
2.30 Jat embroidery
The dhanetahs live in the banni regions of Kutch they usually are engaged in selling ghee and
they generally follow the custom of marrying their children in their own clan and if the person is
haji they prefer their children marrying a haji’s child.
The fakiranis are the smallest clan of the Jats, who are settled in the lakhapat and abdasa talukas.
2.31 Jat embroidery cushion covers
3.SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CRAFT
The heritage of embroidery in the region of Kutch goes back to many centuries; this embroidery
contributes to the contemporary needs of manifesting the culture, social as well as help to raise
funds for the various communities thus completing the contemporary economic need.
Embroidery essentially is a way in which the women communicate their wisdom and value.
3.1 Rabari embroidery bodice
The various communities residing in Kutch have come and settled in Kutch after travelling great
distances, while travelling such huge distances over the years their craft of embroidery was
affected and after they settled in India, they assimilated the Indian inspired motifs into their
3.2 Desi Rabari women
The women of various communities practised embroidery as a leisure activity, during their free
times or they would do embroidery between different tasks like washing clothes and utensils and
Slowly, the tradition started that the embroidered articles would become a part of the wedding
trousseau of the girl in the family. For this purpose the women would embroider articles of use
for the bride. The bride too would embroider her own clothes for the wedding day, thus in this
way the craft of embroidery was passed on and heirloom was created. The women in the
neighbourhood also contributed little parts to the trousseau as a blessing for the newly wedded
3.3 Rabari woman at her house
The stark landscape of Kutch is very dull and colourless. It is said that women were troubled by
this fact that their surroundings were very dull and thus they incorporate such bright colour
threads for their embroidery.
The embroidery of Kutch stands out among the other embroideries of India because it is one of
its kind and very unique in the way the bright colours are used and yet it does not look gaudy or
over the top at all.
3.4 A Harijan girl embroidering her wedding dress
When the earthquake hit Kutch on 26th January, in the middle of the horrendous destruction
suffered by the people and the craft culture of Kutch, these embroideries became the symbol of
people’s will to survive and triumph over this great adversity within days. Women said that
embroidery would help them retain and sustain sanity and dignity in the midst of this despair.
Embroidery more than anything else became the expression of relief and rehabilitation. It
became the symbol of hope and the weapon against despair.
Cloth, hooked needle, silk thread or zari thread or cotton thread, and bamboo frame.
Buttis, floral motifs, peacocks, paisleys, patli, bail, parrots, leaves, abstract designs, gate way
4.1 Contemporary Aari work
1. The pattern to be embroidered is drawn on the butter paper by a nakshanavez.
2. The paper is then perforated on the pattern lines and placed on the fabric.
3. Using a mixture of chalk and kerosene the design is then printed on the fabric.
4. The fabric is first fixed by stretching it over the framed made of bamboo called
5. This embroidery is carried out with the help of an “aar” – a hooked needle, where the
thread is introduced from below the fabric.
6. They use this needle for entangling the zari or cotton thread from the beneath of the
7. The needle is pushed through the fabric, the threads gets looped into the hook of the
needle below the surface of the fabric
8. When the needle is pulled to the surface of the fabric the thread loop appears onto the
surface of the fabric along with the needle.
9. The needle is pushed back into the fabric through the same loop it forms another loop
which is connected to the previous loop.
10. This subsequent loop forms chain stitch pattern throughout the design
11. All the design are outlined by a different colour and then filled with a different colour
of intricate Aari stitch.
12. After the embroidery part is over the stitches are beaten using a wooden mallet from
the top on a handheld wooden anvil placed under the fabric.
13. Both men women use do it in their leisure time.
Fabric, chalk, stencil, silk or cotton threads, needle and abhalas.
Peacocks, flowers, scorpions, elephants, milkmaids and parrots. Distinctive teardrop-shaped
pattern is also used as one of the design pattern.
4.4 Ahir woman in her bhunga
1. The grey cloth is first processed to eliminate all the impurities
2. They cloth is then dyed in the desired colour.
3. The designs are created using free hand drawing and designing and converted stencils.
4. This stencil is then used to trace out the designs very lightly using a stick dipped in
natural pigment on the fabric.
5. To begin with, the outlines are made for the entire design using very intricate chain
stitches locally known as sakli.
6. After the outline is done, the design is filled with the herringbone stitches which are
known as “vanna” locally.
7. After the sakli and vanna stitches are completed the abhalas are attached on the
embroidered piece using sedhphool or oriental stitch which is thick filler stitch use to
create rings around the abhalas.
8. There is an ample use of abhala in this embroidery though Ahirs use only round mirrors
for this embroidery.
9. Traditionally they did not use embroidery rings to hold the fabric taut. Even today they
continue the tradition; it is rarely that we see the Ahir using embroidery rings to support
10. They hold the fabric between forefinger, middle finger and thumb in a stretched
manner. With the other hand they embroider the design using needles.
11. For finishing of the embroidered fabric they cut off the extra thread which hangs after
the embroidery is done.
Cloth, cotton and wool threads, needle, mirrors.
4.6 Rabari children
Paniyari, mango leaves, scorpions, camels, elephants and the tree of life, temple motifs,
coconuts, parrots, abstract designs.
4.7 Rabari shawl
1. Rabari women weave the fabric from the locally found wool or sometimes they purchase
it from the market.
2. If the odhini has to be tie dyed then the cloth is tie and dipped in the dye bath to produce
the tie dye effect.
3. It is washed with cold water to remove the excessive dye.
4. They decide the design in their imagination and start to produce it onto the fabric without
any tracing or outlining.
5. They outline the pattern using very close intricate chain stitches or sakli. The stitches are
so intricate that one cannot see the fabric below.
6. After the outlining is done the abhalas are attached with the embroidery piece using
sedhphool or oriental stitch. The Rabaris make extensive use of abhalas and they give
different shape to the abhalas with their embroidery.
7. The stitches used for abhalas are square chain interlaced with buttonhole, other than the
previous stitch they use single chain, knot, romanian, blanket interlaced with
herringbone, running, and double running as filling stitches.
8. According to the subcaste the embroidery also differs for example: the dhebariya Rabaris
use more of “yellow threads or yellow colour” along with more mirrors in the design.
While the vagadia Rabari use more of “white” rather than yellow.
9. The embroidery is so fine that it gives illusion of a print on the fabric.
4.8 Rabari men
Waste and leftover cloth, needles, threads, abhlas, kerosene, chalk, charcoal, stencils, scissors or
Peacocks, parrots, scorpions, elephants, milkmaids, flowers, leaves and other geometric and
4.10 Bavalia embroidery
1. The cloth is first washed to remove any kind of impurities in the cloth
2. The designs are then drawn free hand on a piece of paper and the pattern is then
pierced along the pattern lines.
3. The stencil is then placed on the fabric and the design is traced using a mixture of
kerosene and chalk or charcoal.
4. If the design has an outline it is carried out before the filling is done
5. The design is then filled in using a variety if stitches including densely done
buttonhole stitch which raises the level of the fabric making it 3-d.
6. While the designs are being filled in the abhlas are attached with the buttonhole
7. The stitches in Kutchi bhaarat are densely and closely done so that the cloth is
hardly ever seen
8. Some designs are not as intricate and have cross stitches, in such designs the base
fabric is shown.
4.11 Pako bahrat
This name is given to the embroidery. The stitches are carried out in such a way that the base
cloth is not seen. The designs are sketched free hand and transferred onto stencils before they are
printed onto the fabric with the help of kerosene, chalk and charcoal. The outline of pako bharat
is done by using box chain stitches. The design is filled in using buttonhole stitches which gives
a raised level to the embroidery. There is ample use of abhlas in this embroidery.
4.12 Kutchi embroidery
4.13 Kharek and Khambira
4.15 Black Mutva border
1. This embroidery is carried on basic dark shades of fabric like basic black, dark mauve
colour, maroon, bottle green etc.
2. The fabric is laid flat and then the motif is traced by white powdered made up of chalk
3. Traditionally people made it by the imagination of design but now a days to make it more
easy people have started tracing the motifs.
4. The main colour used in this embroidery is white majorly this community of banni use
white for their motifs.
5. Then with the help of thread and needle the design by stitches such as chain stitch, box
chain stitch, reverse chain, romanian, knot, satin, double running, lazy daisy,
herringbone, and hemming stitches.
6. They use chain stitch and the buttonhole stitch, as filling stitch where its straight thread
crosses the design at right angles many times over.
7. This embroidery can be distinguished from other form of embroidery by its distinguish
style by its tiny mirrors, surrounded by minutely detailed medallions worked with
geometric motifs. They use various colours like bright yellow, orange, black and red, for
the pattern placing them in grid form.
8. It is very intricate and time consuming embroidery due to which the prices of mutwa
embroidery is higher than other embroidery.
9. For the finishing the extra threads are cut from the fabric.
4.16 Gotnav and Katri
Cotton, cotton-jute, cotton-silk fabric in which the warp and weft of the fabric is easily
countable. Embroidery threads of varied colors and silk floss thread ,abla or mirror,little tassels
4.17 Jat embroidery on the panel of a bag
4.18 Fakirani Jat girl
1. The Jat clan generally use red fabric for their embroidery; the red dyed cloth is first laid
on a flat surface.
2. The outline of the design is marked and traced with the help of chalk and kerosene or by
3. The warp and weft within the design are counted.
4. The designs are then modified to create the symmetry between the two sides of the design
if it’s a symmetrical design.
5. A vivid variety of colours is used which complements the red base fabric
6. The white colour is used to outline the motifs which not only adds the sense of contrast
but also gives dept to the embroidery.
7. The designs are then inlayed with small glittering mirrors stitched using buttonhole stitch.
8. Jat work is very intricate and elaborately done with the use of cross stitch and very time
9. The stitches are very closely stitched and are very firm where the base fabric can hardly
4.19 Fakirani Jat embroidery
5.RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
Our group stayed in the city of bhuj. We visited the embroidery centres around bhuj, like
bhujodi, sumeraser, bhirendiara, ludia, khavda, dhordo, hodka. We also visited mata-no-
madh, naliya, nakhatrana and ravapar.
In bhuj, we visited the local markets to understand the kind of products available in the
market and to get ideas about innovations that we could implement.
5.1 Our group with Mr. P. J. Jethi
We also visited the Shrujan centre in bhujodi where we interacted with smt. Chandaben
shroff who is the founder of Shrujan. Chandaben is fondly called as “kaki” all over Kutch.
She gave us details about how Shrujan employs the best artisans from different villages to
produce the diverse product line. She also told us how the institution takes great pains in
promoting this craft of embroidery which is one of the finest crafts of the country.
Chandaben also told us that Shrujan too started out small and has been growing since its
foundation in 1969. Shrujan was founded to provide aid to the women during the 1969
famine which had struck Kutch.
5.2 Our group with Smt. Chandaben Shroff
Chandaben’s aim was to rekindle a passion for the skill and the response she received was
tremendous. Old motifs were revived and new designs were created. It took a long time to create
the travelling exhibition, and it now has 1,082 panels, each three feet by four feet (0.9 metre by
1.2 m), embroidered by more than 600 master craftswomen belonging to nine communities of
Kutch. Chadnben also told us that, as a design bank it is possibly one of a kind in the world.
We also visited the institution of “Kalaraksha” situated in sumeraser. At Kalaraksha mr. Jain
helped us understand the older forms of embroidery practised all over Kutch. He also showed us
his collection of articles which the institution had preserved over the period of time. Mr. Jain told
us that the Kalaraksha trust was founded as a grassroot social enterprise which aimed at
preserving the traditional crafts and encouraging the creative capacity of the artisans.
Mr. Jain also informed us that artisan initiative and participation were the pillars of kala raksha's
work. Artisan design committees creates exquisite contemporary work based on their traditional
motifs . Artisan pricing committees establish fair wages in return for the artisans work. The trust
provides all materials to be used for the production of high quality embroidered merchandise, the
artisans use this material and produce the articles and return the finished products through a
common channel between the artisans and the trust. Finally, artisans participate in sale of their
work, linking them directly to their market though they do not directly go to the market to market
their product .
5.10 Pouch in which the artisans send their work (name of the artisan on the tag)
We next visited villages of ludia and khavda . The people in the villages were very hospitable
and invited us very warmly to their houses where they showed us their merchandise and also
showed us their workshop where the women of the entire village sat together to embroider
during the leisure hours. We also met Jyotsna who was just a fifteen year old girl who lived in
ludia with her parents. She had been embroidering since the age of five years and she was adept
at embroidering articles. She also taught is a few of her traditional stitches. The houses in the
village were not the original bhungas but they were cemented but the courtyard was still laid
with cowdung to keep the temperature from riding very high.
5.11 Girl drawing water from a well
5.14 Surbhi learning the embroidery
Moving on we visited dhordo which was a village situated jus next to the rann of Kutch. Here
too the people were warm and welcoming. They took us to their bhungas which were the actual
bhungas made up of mud and cowdung and not cement and mortar.
5.15 Artisan at Khavda
In dhordo the womenfolk generally carried out the Mutva embroidery which was very intricate
and fine. Their color combinations were bright and eye catching but some of the products were
in subdued colors due to the demand by the foreign buyers. In dhordo we met a young girl
Mamta who was a eight year old girl whose mother was involved in embroidery. Her mother
taught her embroidery and Mamta was embroidering her wedding trousseau.
The artisans and their families are not well versed with languages other than their mother
tongue or their dialect. Most people hardly speak gujarati or understand it, the people
generally speak only Kutchi and its various dialects which vary according to the
geographical location of a place
Unwilling to change
The artisans do not want to divert from the traditional motifs which they are used to
produce free hand onto the fabric. They face difficulty in trying to steer away from the
age old motifs and trying to adapt to new more contemporary designs. Also they do not
wish to change because it slows down their pace of production.
Artisans are underpaid except who are associated with the institutions
The artisans who supply their merchandise to some institutions or ngos receive a fair
amount of money in proportion to their hard work and intricate hand work. But those
artisans who supply to shopkeepers or other retailers do not generally receive enough
return to compensate for the amount of hard work they put in, into the production of their
merchandise, sometimes they receive so little that even their material cost is not
5.20 New and Old Rabari work
This craft of embroidery by the womenfolk of various communities was earlier carried
out for the sole reason of adding design value to items of personal use also they women
would manifest their personality through this craft. But the tables have turned the
communities are now forced to sell their heritage because they do not have any other
source of income. And the commercialisation has led to many people becoming aware
about the existence of the craft and now the artisans get bulk orders and to complete the
orders in time sometimes the quality of work take s a back seat.
Lack of lead time
Embroidery is a time consuming task and needs a fair amount of time to be completed
with the high quality. But since the craft is being commercialised on a large scale the
artisans do not get enough time after they have received the order. They thus have to rush
with the production and at times they are concerned with only the completion of the
articles rather than their quality of work.
Presence of middle men
A major reason why the artisans do not get adequately paid is that the middle men(
suppliers and transporters) take most of the money. Since the artisans are not very
educated they are generally cheated and not given a fair amount for their hard work.
Sometimes even if the retailer or the client pays a fair amount to their channel the money
seldom reaches the artisans
Artisans are too remotely settled
5.21 Remotely settled Rabari villages
The artisans reside in villages and their villages are too remotely settled. They are not
easily accessible and one needs to have a personal transport to reach them as and when
High quality of material not available locally to improve the quality of craft
The artisans who are associated with some institution are generally given material from
the institutions end, these materials are of a higher quality than that is available in the
local market because the quality of articles has to be higher and upto a certain standard to
be sold in the urban markets. But the artisans who produce articles from their own money
cannot afford to buy such high quality of materials which are more expensive and not
locally available in the village markets.
Communication gap between the artisan and the buyer or designer
In recent times more designers and buyers are putting an effort to save this craft from
extinction. But the artisans do not understand the new design and motifs which the
designers want to introduce and at times they do not produce the embroidery in the way
the designer wants them, so there exists a communication gap between the designers and
Uninterested youth do not want to continue the legacy
Since there is not much money and fame in this field the youth are looking at more
lucratively paying jobs, which pay more than this craft.
Unsuitable climatic conditions for business and craft to flourish
5.22 Kutch during summer season
Kutch is a district where the climate is hot and dry throughout the year and thus it becomes
difficult for the people to travel to the villages and artisans, also during winters it becomes
excessively cold and even during those times it becomes difficult to travel to the remote villages.
Our entire group spent about fifteen days in the north western district of Kutch. We all enjoyed
our stay and experience of exposure to the adventurous terrain of the district. We particularly
liked the vibrancy and colours the womenfolk filled in the dull background of this region. We
were mesmerized by the number of tribes and the different kinds of embroidery they all carried
We have tried to introduce a product line which is contemporary yet has a rustic old touch of the
traditional embroidery. We through this product line are trying to portray the new face of the
embroideries of Kutch which were known till date only for their usage on the clothes of the
particular tribes and on the typical products the tribes produced for sale.
We tried to convince the artisans to understand our designs and co-operate in making the
designing more artisan friendly and innovative. We faced problems in a lot of places and a few
places we got a positive response from the artisans who were willing to divert and steer away
from their designs which they had been creating with complete ease for a long time.
Though many efforts are being made to save this craft from extinction, this craft is still largely
under threat because most of the new generation artisans are uninterested and do not wish to
pursue embroidery as a career. They are looking towards many other lucratively paying jobs
which give them a faster return for their hard work.
Secondly, the quality of raw material available locally is not upto the standard to produce
products which can be marketed at the world level which will definitely earn these embroideries
a new market.
All in all we believe that this craft though dying has not been totally explored, this craft still has
roads less travelled which we need to find and exploit them to make this craft flourish again and
gain a renowned name across the globe.
7. PRODUCT LINE
7.1 Jat Work full bead neckpiece with earrings 7.2 Jat Work neckpiece with earrings
7.3 Jat Work neckpiece