Embroidery of Kutch: Gujarat, the state situated in the western part of India, is famous for the embroidery of Kutch and Kathaiwar. The peasant, tribal and ladies of other community residing in the villages have maintained their tradition, culture and rich heritage through various styles of embroideries, i.e. , it can be said here that greatest contribution to the Indian embroidery is from Gujarat state, precisely from Kutch and Kathaiwar. However, the beauty lies in the rich designs, variety of motifs and stitches.
This embroidery was introduced by “Kathi” the cattle breeders, who were basically wonderers and brought about by Karna, the famous warrior of Mahabharat. These wanderers collected and gathered themselves in a place, and contributed variety, unique elements, patterns, themes, moods and techniques of needle work, which became later an integral part of the embroidery of Gujarat. These wonderers worshipped Shiva and Ganesh and used to embroider the idols in the small squares called “Sthapanas”.
The embroidery articles from Gujarat were world famous and exported to European countries during 16th and 17th century. However there exists difference in the embroidery of Kutch and Kathaiwar as a whole.
It is believed that the Kutch embroidery was taught to “Mochis”, the shoe makers around 300 years ago by a Muslim Phakeer of Sindh. However, Kutch embroidery has the foundation of various clans viz Ahris, Kanbis, Mochis, Rabaris.
Arhi bharat: The primitive peasants of Saurashtra are known regionally as Arhis, experts in mochi (cobbler) bharat, usually prepared decorative articles and surface enrichment of their attires. It was totally a home craft, never attempted as a commercial trade. The ladies of ahir families embroidered their traditional costumes during their off seasons. Ahir is the hooked needle, with the help of which the embroidery was executed, appeared exactly like chain stitch. The embroidery is not only skillful in stitching but talented in developing designs, preparing pattern, drawing and tracing the same on the fabric.
The base material used was hand spun and hand woven coarse Khaddar on which a series of loops leading to chain stitch using Arhi along with abundant application of mirrors were observed. At present the embroidery is done on silk, or the locally manufactured satin fabric or a silky satin fabric.
The hand work was done with colourful cotton thread on dark coloured Khaddar in olden days but now use the silky untwisted floss (heer) or the twisted silken thread, on choli, pajamas, jackets, bonnets, caps and other children’s garments. The craftsman later introduced various colour schemes in the basic chain stitch to denote the stem, veins and other subtler parts of the motifs, a chief characteristic of the embroidery. Birds, flowers, creepers, foliages are some of the motifs, of them parrots, peacock, bulbul, human figure, dancing doll, karanphool, the flower shaped ear-ring, are the main.
Kanbi Bharat: Kanbis are basically the cultivators, migrated from Saurashtra; the women communities engage themselves in the beautiful art of bharat and are known for their patient work. It was cent percent home scale art where the kanbi women got together in small groups and continue their work on household articles. The embroidery thread is cotton of yellow, orange, green, white and purple colours. The basic stitches employed are darning for out lining and herring bone for filling. The designs in Kanbi Bharat are distinct and have the influence of Persian art. They use the similar motifs as others but the specific ones are the sunflower, and kevada, the cactus flower. Kanbi folk are religious, orthodox and believe in worshipping the domestic animals like bullocks, the second lung of the cultivators. As a token of love and affection, kanbi women prepare many beautiful articles for their domestic animals to decorate them during the festivals and while taking the procession. The articles more frequently prepared are the rectangular cover spread on the back of the bullock, conical covers, attractively tasseled to cover the horns, gorgeously embroidered veils to cover the forehead, face and muzzle. The other household articles like covers for wooden boxes, pataras, blankets and quilts, on which elaborate embroidery of parrots, peacocks, various shapes of foliages, climbers, creepers, tender twigs of mango are commonly observed.
Mochi Bharat: Mochi is the community belonged to the artisan, cobbler or shoe maker, who used a unique technique of preparing chappales and shoes, whose basic stitch has entered as a popular Kutchi Bharat. It is similar Arhi bharat, where the thread is pulled from the bottom to the top with the help of arhi, creating loops and the successive repetition leads to a continuous line of chain stitch. On larger surface areas like household textiles, many highly stylized flowers bushes, dancing doll, peacock, human figures are seen. Mochi bharat though appears simple, needs thorough, continuous practice to achieve efficiency. It is elaborate embroidery usually incorporated for filling work, thus time consuming. The ground fabric in satin and articles embroidered are choli, ghagra, toran (door decoration), chaklas (square wall hangings), and borders and so on.
Rabari Work: Rabari belong to a Giri region, usually migrating from place to place. Their embroidery is relatively effective, impressive and attractive, usually done on a hand –spun, hand woven khaddar or khadi material of maroon colour. Rabaris used small piece of cloth of various size, shape, to produce bold effect against a plain back ground .this craft has no definite design, and it appears some what like appliqué work. Canopies, door curtains, wall decorations and other household articles were prepared. The motifs comprised of beautiful birds, floura, human figures and so on.