The needlework of Gujarat is famous
the world over for its finesse and precision. Embroidery is Gujarat's
quintessential handicraft and many of the artisans are wives of herdsmen,
nomads and agriculturists battling for a second income.
Embroidery is Gujarat's quintessential handicraft and many of the artisans are wives of herdsmen, nomads and agriculturists battling for a second income. The best known is 'aribharat', which is named after 'Ari', a hook, plied from the top but fed by silk thread from below with the material spread out on a frame. This movement creates loops, and repetitions of these movements lead to a line of chain stitches. It is also known as 'Mochibharat', as it used to be done by 'mochis' (cobblers).
Techniques vary with the community and region. One can look out for the simple needlework but exquisite effects of Bavalia embroidery to the fabulous bright yellow and red Banni embroidery; the embroidery of the Rabari cameleers, reminiscent of their pastoral life style, inlaid with triangular, square and almond shaped mirrors.
The geometric and floral motifs of the Ahir community with circular mirrors; the chain stitches and tiny mirrors used by the Jats; the delicate 'soof ' embroidery of the Sodha Rajputs around Lakhpat ; the tiny broken mirrors embroidered into fabrics by the Mutwa cameleers; and the exquisite Mukka embroidery of the Hali putras, Rasipotra and Node herds people are worth seeing.
Applique is an integral part of the decorative needlework of Gujarat. However, it is distinctive with a style of it's own. It is based on patchwork, in which pieces of coloured and patterned fabric is finely cut in different sizes and shapes and sewn together on a plain background to form a composite piece.
It is therefore done only on items of household use. They are in brilliant colours and highly ornamented with motifs. The whole charm of an applique lies in the contours of each individual inset piece.