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Arts & Crafts

Ajrakh block printing - The highly skilled and patterned Ajrakh block-printing came to Kutch from Sind 400 years ago when the Muslim Khatri’s settled in the village of Dhamadka. In 2001 a devastating earthquake severely damaged Bhuj, Dhamadka and other villages and towns all over the Kutch region. In the wake of this tragedy, the Khatri’s were brought closer together and a new village was created to rebuild their lives and their craft production, aptly named Ajrakhpur (‘place of Ajrakh’). Today there are Khatris living and working in both villages. The artisans of Ajrakhpur specialise in Ajrakh – a Block Printed cotton cloth used traditionally by local herdsmen with natural dies. Its geometrical and nonfigurative motifs often mirror those appearing in Islamic – influenced Indian architecture.

Bandhani - Tie and dye is as integral a part of Gujarat as it is of Rajasthan. The fabric is tied in tiny knots and dip dyed, the knots are opened and new ones tied to dip die again. Beautiful patterns thus emerge on the chosen fabric which is mostly cotton and silk.

Rabari Shawls : Rabari is a tribe of herdsmen in Gujarat. Their shawls are quite unique in terms of their patterns and colours. These shawls are embellished with intricate embroidery and mirror work. The fleece of sheep is given to the vankars or the weavers who weave it into beautiful warm shawls. The Rabari women then embroider these shawls. There are three major tribes involved in making of a Rabari shawl viz., the rabaris who provide the raw material and are also the end users, vankars or the weavers and Khatris or the dyers who colour the yarn or the completed shawls. Blankets also are woven in a similar fashion.

Embroideries : Gujarat has a very rich heritage of weaving and embroidery. These arts are visible everywhere in the day to day life of a Gujarati native. The embroidery patterns and styles vary throughout the state from tribe to tribe or community to community. Aahir embroidery, Soof embroidery, Chakan embroidery, Jat Fakira, Jat Garasiya Embroidery, Kambiro & Khudi Embroidery, Katri Embroidery, Kharek Embroidery, Mukko Embroidery, Neran Embroidery, Pakko Embroidery, Rabari Embroidery are just some of the many intricate thread work arts of Gujarat.

Leather craft : Many villages      in Gujarat specialise in leather crafts. These skilled craftsmen make many artefacts and utility items like slippers, key rings etc.

Banni Handicrafts : The “Banni grasslands” is inhabited by many tribes who now are world famous for their exquisite and intricate embroidery. Here the minutest of minute and exclusive embroideries and mud work are done. Their craftsmanship and artistic works are so much excellent that craftsmen/artists have been honoured by national awards. These people subsist and depend mainly on doing mud works, godadi works (very small quilts), patch – works, handmade embroideries as craftsmen and others on livestock as pastoralists (Maldharis).

Lippan Kam :  Lippan kam is done inside Bhungas / mud huts in villages of Kutch; sometimes you can find it on outer walls too. Generally, women make birds, trees, animals, and peacock, human figures etc in Lippan kam. It is done with a mixture of clay and camel dung. Then gum is used to stick mirrors. Originality of lippan kam lies in adding no colour or only whites. Small round, diamond-shaped or triangle mirror pieces are essential to lippan kam.

Rogan Art : The village of Nirona is the only place in the world where the tradition of Rogan art is still practiced (a method of producing dyes from natural resources and castor oil and creating intricate and long-lasting designs on silk and cotton). Rogan art is a rare craft that is not well known even in India. Because of its rare qualities, its practiced by only one family in India and they reside in Nirona village in Gujarat.

Copper Bells : Nirona also offers the chance to see artisans making copper bells. The Luhars in Nirona have been preserving the craft of making copper bells over seven generations. The art form originally comes from Sindh and some sister villages in Pakistan too make similar bells but with carvings on the surface. These are one of those unique collectibles that every visitor carries away as a souvenir.

Wood Lacquering : Another family in Nirona is practicing wood lacquering. Raw lacquer in various colours is passed with great skill on the wooden object of focus in beautiful waves. The work they do is mainly focused on household items like jewellery boxes and kitchen utensils and is known to last more than 30-35 years. If the lacquer work starts to lose its sheen, just apply some oil on it to bring it back to its original shine.

Silver Jewellery : Not specific to any one region but the entire state, silver jewellery is an everyday wear of the tribesmen and women here. All across Gujarat you can see craftsmen making chunky silver jewellery which can be bought off the craftsmen directly or through village marketplaces called “hatts”.

Patola - Patola is a double ikat woven sari, made in Patan. The fabric used is usually silk with a few variations in cotton as well. The word patola is the plural form; the singular is patolu. These saris are popular among those who can afford the high prices as they are very expensive, once worn only by those belonging to royal and aristocratic families. Patola-weaving is a closely guarded family tradition. There are three families in Patan that weave these highly prized double ikat saris. It is said that this technique is taught to no one in the family, but only to the sons. It can take six months to one year to make one sari due to the long process of dying each strand separately before weaving them together.

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