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)