Rajasthan is very colourful and vibrant. It has always pulled me towards it. Such has been its impact. But I feel even within Rajasthan there are different colours of different regions. One such colour is Bhuj. I visited Bhuj last year and it had a great impact upon me, especially the handicrafts of this region. All of us know that Bhuj is well known of its havelis and its rich heritage. The designs of Bhuj are very unique to this land. You will find the worlds most enchanting creations in print, textile and leather work here.
I first visited Parakar Vilas. This is a small village in Bhuj district. Tribes that migrated from Sindh settled here. The villagers here are all artisans. They are experts in creating the most beautiful embroidery designs. The traditional embroidery is classified in four styles – soof, khaarek, rabari and paako. Soof also called sur it means triangle in the local language. It is one of the most difficult types of embroidery. In this style patterns are not traced beforehand on to the fabric. The women, who too are expert artisans, imagine the designs in their heads. They count the threads of warp and weft to ensure symmetry. Once they have counted it they stitch it.
Kharrek embroidery is largely comprising of geometrical appearances. These appearances are colourful squares of threads which are stained in colours. Stitches of these colourful threads fill the entire fabric. The rabari style of embroidery which again in indigenous to this region is unique too. It uses the chain stitch to outline the pattern. Patterns in this style are liberally embellished with mirrors.
Now coming to the paako style of embroidery. It literally means mean ripe or ready. In this style the patterns are first drawn on to the fabric. Now these drawings are not made with pencil, but with the help of a special kind of mud. They are then filled with tight chain stitches and satin stitches. The style is called ripe or ready because the cloth may fade away, thin out and fall away. But the embroidery will remain intact.
In all these types of embroidery the motifs are flowers especially the lotus and animals. Amongst the animals in Rajasthan’s art elephant, horse and camels are the most popular. The aforesaid embroidery styles are no exception to this rule.
These embroidery styles had a deep impact upon me. I could not believe that those rustic hands could weave so beautiful patterns. I felt that there was magic in the hands of these weavers.
What made me even happier was the fact that some non-governmental organizations are helping these indigenous artisans. They are providing them a market place for their work. While doing so they are preserving our rich heritage and culture.
Such was the impact of these artisans and the patronage they receive that once I returned home, I too started a small organization to promote the local artisans. This is a small attempt on my part to preserve the local culture. All this is the result of impact of Bhuj and its artisans.