Posted by Mishra Jaina on 02-05-2007 06:23 AM:

textiles from the 'kutch' region (india)

a peek at tribal textiles from 'kutch'

this area in gujarat, a state in western india borders pakistan and is home to over a dozen different gypsy/nomad tribes of varying origins (including one that has migrated from baluchistan)

and they all produce beautiful textile work, as i have recently discovered. although in the beginning the work looks similar, a closer look reveals the distinctive signature of each tribe.

they weave, tie&dye and embroider to create their art.

i've had some pieces for awhile, but a recent event, made me go a bit crazy and now there are many more in my cupboard that i am trying to understand. and i have gone nuts enuff to book a trip to the region next week. am planning to live with the rabari gypsies and am hoping ambitiously, to come back with a complete understanding about the region's textile art, its history and its people !

a "starter pack" of pictures of some of the pieces :

several tribes use mirrors - and sometimes large mirrors set in metal. the embroidery used here is a good neat example of the work of this type. the hanging triangles are made of 'mashru' material which is unique to this region.

this is probably a head gear that helps support the earthen or metal pot on the head. the tail piece seems to have some purpose i hope to discover soon. the camel wool tassels have natural dyes.

this is a head scarf - with embroidery on a square piece that has been tied and dyed first. each corner has a different design, and small cowries are real.

this blanket uses undyed sheep wool. created in two longitudinal parts and then stitched together. the weaver explained that this is because their looms are small (? - will find out why). this is the only piece of the set that i have posted, which is new.

this is a bridal veil for one of the tribes. also made in two longitudinal parts. first tie-dyed separately - then stitched together and then embroidered. the mismatch between the tie-dyed parts is visible.sometimes there also is a deliberate attempt to sabotage perfection in the embroidery - to 'avert the evil eye' called the 'nazarbattu' seen in pic1 on the left bottom. a third dimension is seen in this ludi - with a stuffed square pyramid on each flower (pic 3 which is not of the same ludi as in pic 1 and 2).

there's lots more .... but am not sure if there is interest enuff on this forum- so i shall rest for now !

jaina mishra
mumbai, india

Posted by Steve Price on 02-05-2007 08:32 AM:

Hi All

The pictures are in Jaina's post now.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-05-2007 12:57 PM:

Hi Jaina.

Interesting stuff, thanks! My preferred piece is the blanket with undyed sheep wool.
Feel free to post more. And… also if you’re going to visit the region, I hope you’ll share wit us your travelogue.


Posted by jaina mishra on 02-06-2007 11:43 PM:

Thanks steve and filiberto
My internet connection is down but when its up again i will send in more pics of quaint articles - like embroidered leather earrings and a ceiling-suspended-indhoni-with-ropes.
Once I am back on the 16th, I will definitely share the 'lifetime within a lifetime' that I hope to live there.
Jaina mishra

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-07-2007 12:38 PM:

Hi Jaina and all,

First, let me say how nice it is to see some of these Indian textiles. We've been in India for several years, and over that time my wife has been the one who keeps an eye out for "Rajasthani" embroideries. As I am sure Jaina knows, you have to sift through quite a few "knock-offs" to find the few of higher quality and interest. I really like all of Jaina's pieces. Here are three of the little pieces that my wife has found, and she managed to dig out of her "cloth bins" (we are slowly starting to pack for home). Does anyone have any suggestions for the purpose, if any, of the piece with the squares hanging from the embroidered panels?

Jaina, I would also be very interested to hear of your experiences in the Kutch region.


Posted by Jaina Mishra on 02-08-2007 05:19 AM:

Your wife's pieces are nice as well !

the first one looks like a 'toran'which is a hanging at an entrance or at a window with the topmost panel just above the empty space of the door/window and the flaps hanging loose.

the third could be bagface, for bags people just carry around.

james, if this interests you, i have recently discovered two collectors who have been collecting indian textiles for over 3 decades and have seen some of their gorgeous stuff belonging to one of them in mumbai! this ranges from bagh to zari to block prints and parsi caps. the other collection 'tapi had a mention in a recent hali - and í hope to see theirs as well in surat soon. all this can be too mesmerising !

will post more soon


Posted by Jaina_Mishra on 02-09-2007 06:12 AM:

more pictures of quaint articles before i leave for bhuj this sunday.

the first is a pair of earrings emboridered on leather. i have not seen these worn on anyone yet so do not know how these are to be worn. but the person i got them from explained that the 'bridge' made of string that is seen on the back, clips on to the gold or silver earrring that clips on to the ear !! the diameter is about 3inches.

a pair of 'slippers' - called 'mojri'. this one is new but captures the original art well- i bought it about 10 years ago from a handicraft fair, from an american lady married to someone from the kutch, and she has settled there and was trying to revive the skill. her investment of effort into an alien cultural skill whose beauty had been neglected by its own people, left a deep impression upon me.

this clutch bag is probably old. one of the ways to judge age here, is the thread used in the embroidery. 'resham' or silk thread usage was introduced later. the dull thick cotton thread is characteristic of older pieces. the rope seen, is used to tie the bag. purpose is probably to store important things like jewelry. the 'rope' fastening method is still used to tie books of accounts that are bound in red cloth, by businessmen from that region, mainly in smaller towns.

will post more when i return from my adventure !

jaina mishra

Posted by Mishra Jaina on 02-18-2007 03:44 AM:

i've presented the kutch travelogue in the form of pictures in this yahoo album

the first half of the album is about textile art and the rest is about the soul of the kutch.

the titles provide a brief background ....

have fun


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-19-2007 04:54 AM:

Nice photos, thank you Jaina!


Posted by Mishra Jaina on 02-20-2007 08:37 PM:

glad you liked them !

there's so much waiting to be discovered and understood - and i've just managed to cover only one of the four regions and distinctive embroideries of kutch ! a bit frustrating to know that u will never quite know it all !