Beads are among India’s oldest items for ornamentation as well as export. Beadwork finds its origins in Gujarat’s Saurashtra region – in the districts of Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Junagadh. Particularly skilled in this art form are the women of Surendranagar’s Bharwad community whose beautiful workmanship can be found in traditional costumes, ornaments, wall hangings and other decorative forms. The Rannof Kutch festivities are a good time to find these items on sale. The villages, too, are a good source of supply and they ensure that the artisans benefit from sales directly. The kathis (tribals) are the finest craftspeople in the realm of beads.
Dating back to Mughal times, Surat has been a distinguished centre for zari (brocade) work best seen in the celebrated Gharchola and Panetar saris, worn on weddings by Gujarati women. The city also has a distinctive appeal for its excellent range of sadeli (marquetry) woodcraft. The craft was brought here by the Parsi community, which settled here when they fled persecution back home in Iran. Surat’s sadeli craft is akin to Kashmir’s khatamkari work – the Persian legacy of using precisely cut geometric pieces of wood to decorate wooden artifacts. You can go for a splendid sadeli doorway for your home or pick up sundry decorative items as souvenirs. Each of these items will bear the inimitable beauty and consummate artistry of a dedicated craftsman.