Gujarat Craft Traditions



Gujarat the state in the western part of India has a rich tradition of arts and crafts, which can be traced to the ancient times. Due to its convenient location on the Arabian Sea coast the state has been the gateway for trade and commerce over the centuries. Merchandisers and traders from various countries of the world came to Gujrat to make business. This resulted into a mix of culture and religion that had its marked effects on its arts and handicrafts. A tour to Gujrat is a remarkable journey not only to its various places of visit but also to its colorful medley of crafts that brings into limelight the glorious artistic heritage and craft culture of India.

One of the major handicrafts of Gujarat is, its textiles. Fabrics of multiple colors are woven into variety of designs and embroideries with unique styles and techniques. The cotton prints of Gujarat, which were prepared applying resist dyeing is the most traditional among all Gujarat textiles. ‘Dhamadka’ and ‘Ajrakh’ prints are typical block prints of bright hues and designs. Dhamadka print is characterized by tiny dot generating into a striking array of patterns. The ‘Deesa Prints’ have a tribal flair with beautiful geometric designs and black outlines in an earthen hued background. The ‘Pachedi Prints’ of the Vaghari communities have images of goddess Durga imprinted on them.

The tie and dye fabrics known as ‘bandhej’ are the most popular textile products of Gujarat.

Superfine fabrics with intricate inlays are used for the purpose of wedding. They make for gorgeous veils or ‘odhni’ and ‘saree’ for the wedding. Golden motifs are embroidered on muslin linens and tied n dyed. The textile patterns have traditional themes like images of goods and goddesses, animals, birds and beautiful floral motifs. The vibrant ‘Bandhni fabrics’ have their origin in the Kutch region of Gujarat. Jamnagar, Mandvi, Bhuj and Saurashtra are the other major manufacturing centers of ‘bandhni’ textiles. A fabric is first knotted into tiny points with the help of threads. Then it is dipped in bright color or dye. The knotted portion remains uncolored, which later turns into a beautiful pattern. The process of retying and dyeing is done multiple times to bring in several shades of color in the fabric. The ‘bandhni’ fabrics can also be embellished with mirrors, glasses, zaris and bells.

The ‘Patola’ silk textiles of Patan awe strike with their identical designs on dual sides of the fabric. The textile designs are distinct reflecting styles of the various weaving communities of Gujarat. The patterns comprise of flowers, birds, dancing females and animal images like elephants and horses. The patola silks crafted by the Muslim Vora sects had intricate floral and geometric designs finely crafted on them. A dark background with female and bird figures on the fringes resembles the typical ‘Nari Kunj’ motifs. Tangail fabrics from Surendranagar have beautiful thread embroideries portraying beautiful peacock motifs and geometric designs. ‘Mashru’ is another very well famed textile tradition of Gujarat. Patan is the main center of Mashru weaving in Gujarat. The technique is imbibed from the Muslim craftsmen. The Gujrati Mashrus come in attractive shades and patterns in multitudes of silk and cotton fabrics. Apart from the textiles, colored fabrics embroidered with elaborate mirror works or ‘Sheeshedar’ and other heavy ornamented decorations are used as household linens, door and wall hangings.