Cupped by Gulf of Kutch on the south and Pakistan on the north, Kutch region almost looks like a leaf on the map. Most of us know Kutch for white desert and Rann festival. When you go there you realise that Kutch is a treasure of handicrafts and a land of warm and welcoming people. Once almost destroyed by the earthquake in 2000, Kutch of today stands tall. Needless to say, their craft helped them in coping up with the destruction.
There are 12 castes in Kutch and all of them have their own style unique style of embroidery. Rabari, Mutva, Bharat, Paako, Suf and Jat are some of popular and more widely used styles. Shrujan, an organisation that has been working with women of Kutch since decades has identified as many as 42 different varieties of embroidery. I was surprised to learn that these women continue to do embroidery even after the age of sixty without spectacles.
While the women work on embroidery men work with leather. One of the workshops that I visited was run by family of two brothers. They work using simple tools to make marks and cut the leather. Many times, the bag is stitched with hands and not sewing machine. It gives a different look to the bag, adding to its beauty.
HAND BLOCK PRINTED LINING
Like embroidery, hand block printed is a long process and it takes fourteen days to make a single piece of cloth. The first step is softening of fabric and treating it for protection from insects. Then comes making designs and patterns using wooden blocks. The blocks used for printing come from Pithapur or Rajkot. Artisans may use two or three blocks for different colours. The cloth is then dyed and dried several times to ensure the colour is ingrained.