Textiles of India: Part I
Come summer and I will be going to India to learn printing with master craftsmen in Kutch, a craft rich region of Gujarat, India. Growing up in India, everything that could be adorned, was. Table covers, place mats, the clothes we wore, occasionally our pens and pencils, maybe shoes. Though those objects were from all over India, I will show you some things that this region of India is known for:
The lady pictured above belongs to the Rabari tribe. Traditionally cattle hoarders, Rabari women embroider during the afternoon and use their work to make clothes for prospective brides, themselves, and everyday objects.
Bandhani, another technique practiced widely in Gujarat and Rajasthan (one state above Gujarat), is a traditional tie-dye method! The word originates from the Sanskrit word ‘Banda’ which means, to tie.
Block printing is also an extremely popular craft in the Gandhinagar region of Gujarat. Blocks are carved out of wood and natural dyes are used to leave an imprint onto fabric. Prints can vary from being very simple for everyday occasions to complex and time-consuming.
Mirror work from the Kutch area of Gujarat is especially lovely. It’s not always with mirrors and any reflective surface seems to do well. This form of embroidery is used on clothes and other household items like the Toran, a rectangular wall hanging that usually goes above the main door of a house.
And this is slightly off-topic, but my parents recently visited the area and this same aesthetic is also used to decorate the walls of the homes in this region. Mirrors are embedded in patterns made of mud and applied to the walls.
If you would like to learn more about Indian handicrafts, Handmade in India is the most comprehensive survey of Indian crafts and is fabulously illustrated.