The Handicrafts of Gujarat

Applique work and embroideries

gujarat-india-textilesKutch is famous for its bold and gorgeous applique work and incredible range of embroidery. The most distinct is abhala (mirror inset embroidery), intrinsic to chic ethnic outfits. Pachhitpatis (embroidered friezes) adorn doorways of homes while bhitiyas make for excellent wall hangings. Ari and soof embroidery is sourced from Banaskantha while kathipa, mahajan, kanbi and rabari embroideries are done in Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Junagadh districts. Soof embroidery, set in geometric designs, features a neat stitch. It includes stylized motifs and the surface satin stich is worked from back of the fabric. The design does not have the benefit of being pre-drawn and is dependent mainly on the creativity of the craftswoman and her sense of geometric symmetry. Pakko (meaning solid) embroidery is the contribution of the Sodha and Rajput communities. Here, the outline of the squares is done in chain stich and filled in with a dense button-hole style stich which appears raised. Mirrors are also set into it to further enhance its beauty.

Namda and Mashru

While the namda is a floor covering, mashru is a silk look-alike used to adorn the body as a garment. Namda is cre­ated from an unwoven cloth com­pletely handcrafted with the process of matting, condensing and pressing a range of differently coloured woolen fibres. No adhesive is deployed. The craft is confined to a few families in Mundra and Nakhatrana. Fibres of wool sourced from shepherds are then dyed and processed by pressing the finished material to create a yarn. It can take up to five days to get the mat ready. Mash­ru, which is a warp-faced satin weave fabric, is an inexpensive alternative to silk with a similar sheen; its reverse is made of cotton. The tradition originates from Arabia.

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