Gujarat, often called the Manchester of the East, has been involved in the textile trade for centuries. Almost all parts of the State specialize in some form of exotic textile weaving.


The stark monotony of the desert landscape of Kutch is relieved by the bright shades of the embroidery created in the region. The embroidered fabrics that come from Banni in Kutch are embellished with mirrors and beads. The Jats are known for their refined embroidery skills. The specialty of the embroidery here is the execution of architectural designs known as the heer bharat. The stitch derives its name from the floss-silk (heer). The stitch, almost three inches long runs parallel to the warp in one part of the motif and to the weft in the other giving it a natural texture. In the center is a mirror secured with chain-stitch.


The Mochi community, who it is believed, learnt the craft from Muslim craftsmen, has almost perfected the fine art of

embroidering chain-stitch on leather. Motifs derived from Mughal and Persian art as well as designs using animal forms are used extensively in their work.

The Ahir and Rabari community, on the other hand decorate the dark background of the fabrics they wear with strikingly vivid embroidery and mirror work. The mirrors are brought into relief by the use of dark colored thread in herringbone or button-hole stitch.

Immigrants from Saurashtra, the Kanbis, prefer the use of white, yellow or saffron base cloth for their garments. While working with chain-stitch in colorful motifs, their workmanship is not nearly as fine as that of the Mochis.


In Saurashtra, the most ancient and noteworthy embroidery was done by the Kathi community. The women of this community showed preference for black cloth embroidered in crimson, violet, golden, yellow and white with greens and blues sparingly used to balance the colors. The main stitch was an elongated darn and chain-cum-interlacing.


Bead work was introduced into this region at a much later stage. Imported from East Africa around 1850, the Mochi craftsmen were the first to use it. By the turn of the century, women of other castes replaced their thread-work by beads. Though the craft has attained a degree of commercialization, even today the finest pieces are those, which formed a part of the bride’s dowry almost 30 or 40 years ago.

The best place to see the more exquisite works of Gujarati embroidery, bead work and other similar crafts is at the religious ceremonies, weddings and festivals. It is on these occasions that each caste proudly establishes its identity by wearing its own highly distinctive and original garments. And as long as there will be the hot afternoon sun shining down on them, the womenfolk from Gujarat will spend the long, hot afternoons spinning more of their colorful and aesthetically pleasing wonders.