Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Women of Kutch and their craftsmanship...

Wishing all the lovely readers of Rang Decor a very Happy New Year 2013!
Thanks for being so patient with my sporadic posts.
My Macbook Pro, my companion of 5 years decided to blank out, taking with it all my image editing softwares and also my enthusiasm.
Got myself a new Mac but had to wait for my softwares, I wanted to give the photographs it's due respect before posting it on Rang Decor.

Before I begin, I want to share with you all a little story (which I had shared earlier on Rang: The Colours of Life) as to what was the motivation behind our trip to the magical land of Kutch in Gujarat last winter.

Weeks before our scheduled trip to Kutch, travel books were devoured, online friends contacted, gave maximum number of daily hits, spoke on the phone for hours.....

....and then suddenly we stopped.

People travel for different reasons, different interests, different purposes.

What was our purpose?
We wanted to experience the land; the dry, harsh, unyielding land of Kutch.
The people; the strong people who looked at natural disasters in the eye, who boldly faced the fury of nature and yet remain warm; hospitable.
The craftsmanship; the needle & thread combination creating magic along with twinkling mirrors.
The history; the past.

So we re-drew our plan. Re-plotted the destinations on the map.

Last week of December, 2011:
Fueling ourselves with hi-octane enthusiasm, a heavy Lowepro bag and a tube of sunscreen we set out with Akil our driver from Bhuj into the villages.

The Mutwas, a Muslim Community who hail from Sindh in Pakistan, inhabit the Banni area in Kutch. They are known for their extremely intricate embroidery using tiny mirrors. We decided to visit one such community in Dhordo village.

We reached the doorsteps of the very hospitable Miyabhai Hussein Mutwa. The Mutwa embroidery is done by the women of the community and according to their customs outside men aren't allowed inside.
So while Mr. Husband spoke to the men in the outer room, I & the daughter were led into a open courtyard of a traditional Bhunga complex.
Within a matter of few minutes I had shook hands with a dozen smiling women and children, made to sit on a soft quilt covered charpouy and examined by twelve pairs of inquisitive eyes.
They asked me about my life in the city. I inquired about their work, their life there in the village.

Suddenly Shabnam, one of the Mutwa women came to me with her needle & thread, pulled the edge of my mirrorwork shawl and started working on it. Within a minute she had made an intricate eyelet around one of the mirrors.


I didn't need to see any of their work after that.

So what you will see in the post will be an ode to the women of Kutch weaving their magic using colourful threads, beads, mirrors and paints...

Their creativity and skill is used in every aspect of their living. Making intricate jewellery using tiny beads.

Doll-making by young and old depicting their traditional attire.
A Meghwal community woman sits with her needle and threads in the sun after finishing her daily chores.

A pretty little girl with a star tattoo on her cheek, joins her mother in making some intricate bead jewellery.

The one piece that I picked up to remind me of this beautiful art and land.

Each village in Kutch is home to a unique art form. The intricate designs painted on terracotta pottery in Khavda Village, Kutch.

Kutchi Embroidery is a very broad umbrella under which comes very different styles                                            belonging to various community and region. 

It is heartening to know that many big NGOs have taken different communities in Kutch under their care and have been working closely with them to provide them livelihood and a platform to showcase their  superlative work to the world.

NGOs like Shrujan, Kala Raksha, Qasab Craft, KhamirKutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan- Maiwa and many others work with these crafts women in the Kutch region.

Below are few humble attempts at capturing some of their stunning handiwork. 

Mutwa Embroidery with the use of very minute mirrors.

Rabari Embroidery one of the well-known styles of Kutchi embroidery. They are known to use mirror in different shapes for their work.

Jat Embroidery by Danetah Jats. Their style involves closely stitched patterns all over the cloth.

Debaria Rabari Embroidery

Aahir Embroidery which involves round mirrors arranged in circular patterns.

Neran Embroidery 

There is a universe of stunning intricate embroidery and styles in this land called Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.

The feminine power, the women of Kutch play the role of homemakers, toil in this harsh un-yeilding land, bring up children, their strong hands tell stories of the life in the desert but they also are the creators of the most beautiful, intricate art and craft weaving a spell on anyone who steps into their colourful world.

Kutch does that to you. I still wake up with the smell of firewood on my shawl and the image of beautiful smiles welcoming us into their humble Bhungas!

( Images by Arch, they are copyrighted. Please don't use it without permission)


Priti said...

Bravo! This is so beautiful...what a colorful and crafty trip you must have had. Embroidery designs are so neat and treat to the eyes...

WordStalker said...

Stunningly beautiful work! Loved your anecdote about Shabnam...such warmth and generosity.


Unknown said...

Wonderful post Archana.

Anupama Puneeth said...

Hi always enjoyed reading the post and all the wonderful captures. Thanks for the virtual tour :)

sangeeta said...

Wonderful. These women empower themselves quietly and so creatively.

Bindu Rachna said...

Wow! this was worth the wait! Nice post! India is so rich in heritage! Nicely captured

Preeta said...

Hi Archana, I have been following your blog since long, and was actually wondering why you were not to be seen ( in blogland) I love your posts about interiors and different crafts. We are Kerelites but settled in Kutch, since last 35 years, and have always been awed by the artistic hands of these ladies. My childhood was spent seeing our bayis (maids)creating lovely stuff, in between there housework. They are such lovely people, and now whenever I go back to my mother's house, I make it a point to go to the craft village in Bhuj which is called Bhujodi. It made me nostalgic to see your post about these Kutchis. Thank you.

Sudha said...

i really dint know there so many different forms of embroidery...super! thanks for sharing Arch...i travel to most exotic locations without moving an inch..thanks to ur blog :)

VIDYA said...

A lovely year to you and your family too Archana:)This post is not just informative and colourful,it has a soul-something that the eye misses often...loved the story!definitely worth the wait!!!

Reshma at said...

What a visually colorful post and so beautifully written!Thank you!

Swati Vaid (simply trying) said...

Wow! Didn't know there were so many different styles of embroidery under the vast umbrella of Kutchi embroidery! Very informative and as always beautiful pics :)

Anonymous said...

Really beautiful work. How colorful in what I assume is a stark landscape.


Anonymous said...

Yay!! Happy New Year. Beautiful post. Fav shot is the one with the little girl with an arm full og colouful bangles! Keep them coming......Pacchai

Simple Me- or rather Complex Me? said...

Soooo good to have you back! Truly missed you. Beautiful post, as always :-)

Deb said...

Wow, I agree with what someone else said, I didn't know there were so many styles of Kutch embroidery. Thank you for sharing it with us and explaining it.

plytki lazienkowe said...

Very beautiful ideas

Ruby said...

Hi Archana,

An extremely wonderful post,thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This is amazing. I am planning a trip to Kutch and this is a perfect primer. I'd love to get some details from you regarding logistics. I'm going to try to get in touch with you. Best wishes.

Rachana said...

nice post archana....

Marisa said...

What a beautiful post. It was definitely worth the wait and gives me such itchy feet to return to your beautiful country.

Sharon said...

great stuff archana, truly inspiring pictures!


Naomi said...

Looks like a lovely trip! We're going to a wedding in Ahmedabad in November... and we might just have to make a quick detour!

Be Ready Bravely

Sarika Periwal said...

That is some awesome artwork Archana. I had no idea you could get this kind of workmanship done in Gujarat. I always assumed Rajasthan was the one rich with these kind of skills.

Sampada said...

Thanks for showcasing the art of India. its just 1 part of great craft forms we have in our beautiful country.