Kutch or Kachchi Embroidery is a unique and well patronised style of embroidery found in Kutch and Saurashtra, two of the most prolific regions in India in the area of textile art. This spectacular textile art is characterised by dense, intricate and extensive mirrored needlework displaying a plethora of patterns, moods and themes, as well as the inclusion of the most vibrant colours.
A Glimpse into the Woven heritage
- It is believed that the Kathi cattle breeders, who were nomads and associated with Karna of Mahabharata brought this unique art to this region when they settled down here.
- The community of Mochis, who were the shoemakers for the royal family adopted this art to work on royal textiles and decorative objects.
- This centuries old art was exported to the West as early as the 16 and 17th C.
- The art spread its wings as the different clans in the region, including Rabari, Ahir, Mochi and Mutwa, adopted the essential features and added on their own unique styles.
The Traditional Kutch Embroidery
Stitched by the womenfolk of villages, this art work was initially created for celebration of festivals and honouring deities. The art also communicated the social status of the individual using it, and has been a part of the dowry given during weddings.
Kutch embroidery usually embellishes cotton or silk fabric with elaborate patterns of romantic, architectural and human motifs, and Persian and Mughal arts, in the colours green, indigo, deep red, black, yellow and ivory. Mirrors and beads are also incorporated with great finesse in the patterns. Some of the well known motifs are the Heer Bharat, the romantic dancing human figurines and peacocks.
The Different Styles
The different clans in the region have incorporated their own distinctive style into the Kutch embroidery, and based on that the following are the styles of this textile art form:
- Suf: This style includes symmetrical patterns with tiny triangles called Suf.
- Khaarek: This style embellishes the entire fabric and includes geometric patterns with an outline of black squares.
- Paako: Floral patterns in perfect symmetry define this style.
- Rabari: This style includes mirrors of different shapes stitched into a sequence of embroidery in vibrant colours.
- Jat: This style includes geometric patterns with intricate mirror work, and is unique to Islamic pastoralists who originated outside of Kutch.
- Mutava: The Mutava is a minute rendition of local styles of the Muslim herders of the region.
- Patchwork and Appliqué: Most of the communities incorporate patchwork and appliqué into their work.
Heritage goes Global
Kutch embroidery has evolved over the years, and today, apart from garments, also encompasses varied artefacts including bags, jackets etc. The style indeed has a worldwide appeal and slowly it is finding its way on the ramp as models in modern wear sashay down.
Unique because of its handiwork, the textile art does stand tall when compared to textile art forms done by machines. Each work seems to whisper into the ears of the wearer the story of not only the design, but also the person who created it.