Discover The Crafts
Discover The Craft Forms
We currently work with four communities of women artisans belonging to the Jewel State of India - Gujarat.
Suf is a time consuming embroidery based on the triangle shape called a "suf." The embroidery is counted on the warp and the stitch is worked from the back. Motifs can never be drawn. Each design is created through imagination and counts in several patterns. Every artisan displays amazing dexterity, imagination, skill and patience.
It is a counted thread style, where the warp and the weft of the fabric in counted and then the embroidery is done the stich itself is called Soof which means clean and neat, the designs are geometric with a predominance of a chevron design called “leher or waves”. Any representational motifs are highly stylized. The surface satin stich is worked from the back of the fabric by counting the weave of the fabric and inserting the needle of regular and designated intervals. The designs for Suf embroidery cannot be pre drawn and are left to the discretion of the individual craftswomen, who need a good grasp of geometry to work out their designs.
Tiny cross stitches and counted thread work create the geometric patterns of Jat embroidery. Mirrors are added to further enhance the beauty of designs. Jat women embroider their own outfits and their work is considered sacrosanct.
The Jats are descendants from ancient pastoral tribes of the Indus Delta, region of Sindh, where some members of the tribe still reside. Some that were assimilated from the later waves of migration and who remain in Sindh are referred to as the Balochi Jats. From there, they moved into the Bani region in search of pasturage. With the partition of India, the Jat of Kutch has lost all contact with their kinsmen in Sindh. They appear to be distinct from the Jat community of North India and Punjab, Pakistan.
The Jats are Maldhari cattle herding group, and are mainly distributed in Kutch and Saurashtra. They have 3 territorial divisions- the Halai Jat( found in Jamnagar and porbandar), Verai Jat (BAnaskantha district) and the kutchi jat(found in kutch district). The kutchi are further divided into the Dhanteh, Girasala and Fakirani and the latter consider themselves superior to the other two, and are strictly endogamous. They are further divided into clans like Badaganj, Podani, Aamar, Vangayi, while the Sirasala are divided into the Mudrag, Bhallad and Hallayi. All these clans except the Fakirani enjoy equal status. The Saurahstra Jat known as Malaks, maintain a system of gotra exogamy.
In addition to cattle rearing, the community is also involved in camel, especially the Fakirani. A good many of Saurashtra community are small-scale peasant farmers. A few are landless and work as agricultural laborers, the Kutch Jat are also known for embroidery work. Jat women create beautiful and manual embroidery, the power of Jat embroidery approaches mostly from the closely stitched pattern that completely plasters the cloth. Jat women are busy in house work, preparing fodder for the cattle in addition preparing food for their men, today they are famous for the microscopic mirror work that has found a niche in the fashion market.
With its flowing style, this embroidery is practiced by Ahir tribes in several villages of Kutch. They have been practicing this craft form since centuries. One can see several patterns inspired by the environment in their designs.
Known for its predominant color combinations such as white, yellow, green, red, blue patterned and weaved on a white yellow and orange background. The designs are first sketched on the fabric with “geru” and then the embroidery is done on the fabrics. Peacocks, parrots, scorpions, elephants, flower and tear drop shapes are signatures forms of Ahir embroidery, the circular shape is knows as “dhungo”. as they inspired by the flora and fauna around them. The details found on the outermost layers is called “Kanta” as it resembles the ‘Babool tree’ thorn, “dana” is the stitch to fill in gaps while “bakhiya” is what the detailing stitch is called, the chain stitches or “sankali” serve as the outline for the “herringbone stich or vana”. They use untwisted silk thread for the embroidery and twisted silk for the “saankdi” stich.
Ahir embroidery can be seen on bags, dresses bed-sheets , wall hangings etc., they make embroidered straps so one can buy them and make something else if they like. Ahir is mostly seen on silks, cottons, Rayon and wool fabrics.
It is considered that the Ahir tribe are descendants of lord Krishna and it is supposed that centuries ago the community migrated with him from Mathura. More than a tradition Ahir is a way of life the tribe, its their way of living and earning. The Ahir tribe children changing their clothing and colors of the embroidery according to their age, till the age of 15 they wear bright colors and then they simpler colors and old women only wear 2 to three colors to show that they have grown old and grey and are satisfied with the life they have lived. Colors represent ones subgroup depending on the head shawl and skirt.
Rabari embroidery uses several shapes of mirrors in several patterns of stitches. Its chain stitch style makes it unique and stunning. Practice by the Rabari communities since ages, it is colourful and exquisite.
Prominent patterns adopted from mythology are made in several shapes embroidered with square chain interlaced with buttonhole stitches fixed with mirrors, it is unlike any other embroidery of Kutch. Khadi material in maroon color is used as the fabric to make door hangings, canopies, wall decorations, etc. it is also said that the Rabaris migrated from the Sindh region in the 14th century and brought their traditional style with them and developed a regional style which was a complete composite style unlike other types then in vogue in Kutch. The “mochi” embroidery style with chain stitch and parrot circle pattern’s influenced their styles.
There are is a vast range of Rabari tribes that range from Kutch to Rajasthan, the Rabari embroidery is mainly consisting of mirror work of different sizes and colors. Rabari’s are mostly nomadic and still they haven’t shared their embroidery secrets with the people around them, their hands have a skill no other tribe does, and no matter where they settle their work still is Kutchi in nature. The Rabari embroidery is world known and has a become a major source of income for the tribes in Kutch and they create contemporary style embroideries for their customers, they are open to new ideas and designs to explore their art and learn more from the world outside their villages and surroundings.