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Quilting in Gujarat

Colouricious-Quilting-300x178 Quilting in GujaratWith an abundance of fine needle-women, Gujarat also produces its own variety of patchwork quilting. Like quilts from all around the world, theirs are made using applique work and the use of small scraps sewn together. In India the traditions of make do and mend are still rife in the tribal and village communities, where they like to use up scraps of torn old fabrics and turn them into an expression of personal creativity.

The techniques may be the same but the overall look of the Indian quilt is very different. The colour palette is much richer and the themes quite different here in Gujarat.

This area of India had a fine tradition of ornamental household goods. From ancient times its people have delighted in being surrounded by the most beautiful and ornamental home accents. The torans (doorway hangings) and quilts showcase the best in ornamentation techniques. Far from the stark patchwork quilts of the Amish, their quilts are covered in embroidery and applique worked in rich red cotton against a white background. These become family heirlooms and can be found stacked and covered with a gorgeous elaborate dharaniya throw full of mirrors.

Around India quilt making varies enormously and in the Odisha region and West Bengal the Kantha quilt has become a worldwide must have item.

Kantha is the name of a running stitch and here the quilts do not take their beauty from fancy embroidery or applique but the simple joining together of layers with a single long stitch. They are primarily recycled saris made of cotton and vary in size from a blanket to a throw. The entire cloth is covered with the running stitches giving the finished item a wrinkled wavy effect.

Textiles Crafts of Gujarat

There are many different textile crafts that are carried out in Gujarat and here are some of the more popular.

Shisha/Shisheh/Abhia Bharat mirror work

Colouricious-Shisha-Mirror-Work-300x180 Textiles Crafts of GujaratThe wrapping of small round pieces of mirror in embroidery and intertwined into patterns, is known as Mutua embroidery, Shisheh or Abhia Bharat.  Shisheh is the Persian word for glass and Abhia Bharat is the Hindi name.

When first this style of mirror work emerged in 17thC India various things were used as the reflective element, like Mica, Beetle wings, Tin and Silver coins.  This was replaced by very thin glass, made by blowing glass into large thin bubbles and snipped into shape by the women using special scissors. You can see this application used in virtually all their work, for wall hangings and torana (doorway hangings) and the small glints of tiny mirrors has another significance to the Rabari who believe it wards off the evil eye.  In clothing it is mostly used on traditional folk clothes and creates a beautiful sparkly appearance, adding yet another layer of texture and vibrancy to the heavily embellished embroidery.

Abhia Bharat/Shisha mirror work is traditionally the embroidery of Kathiawar and Kutch regions of Gujarat but has become so popular it can be found all over India.  The mirror circles are attached with stitches and often with chain stitch, with the work around it completed in stem and herringbone stitch in traditional colours of blue, red, green and pink.  Floral motifs of various shapes and foliage, creepers, climbers, tendrils are the most common.

The greatest contribution to Indian embroidery is from this area of Gujarat state, precisely from Kutch and Kathiawar, however the beauty lies in the rich designs and the skill of the village women who do this work during their leisure time.  After harvesting they engage in needle-crafts, making costumes for their family each year and also dowry items.  This embroidery was introduced by ‘Kathi’ the cattle breeders, who were nomads brought by Karna the famous warrior of Mahabharat.

There are subtly different styles practiced by different tribes, the various clans of Ahirs, Manbis, Mochis and Rabaris. The complex caste stystem in India dictates the type of work practiced, with the Mochi being traditional shoe makers who live in multi-caste villages but occupy their own distinct quarters.  In other areas of India the Mochi are involved with working tanned leather, making other items from leather as required.  They do not do the tanning as this is the occupation of another clan.

The Ahirs were expert cobblers and their embroidery was purely for home use and not to the same standard as the Rabari.  The Kanbi were cultivators, migrants from Saurashtra whose designs are influenced by Persian art (particularly sunflower and cactus flower). Mochi are also artisan cobbers and shoemakers but although their work is similar to the Ahirs it is worked differently.  The Rabari however, have styles and techniques of embroidery that are entirely different from that of the other communities, they follow a different set of rules and a different lifestyle.

The Rabari work is impressive and attractive, usually done on a material of a maroon colour, it is heavy in weight and rich in complexity. The colours used are subtle and accentuate the stitchery, they also combine a type of applique work.  Mostly it is seen on canopies, door curtains, wall decorations and other household articles, not so much on the main dresses and costumes because it lacks delicacy.  When used on clothing it is most likely as a border design. As the small round mirrors are now also made by machine, it is possible to buy these in many places.

Lippan Kaam – mud relief work.

Colouricious-Lippam-Kaam-Work-300x225 Textiles Crafts of GujaratThe application of small round mirrors also extends to the walls of homes. The buildings are traditionally round mud huts with thatched roofs, very plain simple and suitable for the climate, however the decorations inside and out can be stunning.

In the remains of the ancient settlements of the Indus Valley at the site of Dholavira were pieces of earthenware which had survived in its original form for five thousand years, this showed mud relief work.   The circular mud houses are known as Bhungas and the village dwellers in Kutch decorate the walls of their houses with clay, dung, and mirrors.  The clay mixture is manipulated into string like strands and then applied in patterns to form relief designs.

Clay is abundant in Kutch and the great Rann desert. It is pounded and sifted through a sieve to get a smooth powder.  Ingredients are added to give it anti-cracking properties and the most common being dung from either camels or donkeys. The addition of mirrors makes the inside of the houses twinkle with the light from one lamp being thrown around the room to add brightness and decoration.  On the outside of the homes the mirrors are used to ward off the evil eye, common themes being undertaken are Elephant, Camel, Peacock, Parrot, Scorpion, women with water pots on their heads or churning butter milk.  Trees, flowering vines, hill and temples can all be seen as themes.

This technique has been perfected by a few individuals as a form of up-market interior design and can be seen in some five star hotels and in films.

The Kachchhi Rabari, (a sub-tribe of the Rabari) are excellent in this art form but it may be on the verge of extinction as the younger generation are not so interested in this work. The hamlets of Banni are full of this art and on every house you can see walls that are embellished with mud relief work.  The designs used are influenced by their own embroidery; geometrical forms, pheasants and women with water pots are the most auspicious signs for this community.

The Mutwa are Islamic by religion so Mutwa mud work is slightly different here, being taken on by the men only and the designs contain no living forms but ornament of geometric and pattern. A lot of the old mud and mirror work was lost during the great earthquake of 2001, some places remain in this style.  One of the villages called Hodka is considered the best of all the Kutch villages and known for good food, great hospitality and showcasing perfect examples of design and local skills.  Close to the Rann desert (which it is worth visiting at sunset) Dhordo is another excellent village to visit for this type of expertise.

Some students of this craft have adapted the idea and now work it on wooden panels, substituting the rather pungent dung with something less smelly and thus broadening the appeal for this art.

Mata Ni Pacheadi
Colouricious-Mata-Ni-Pacheadi-300x225 Textiles Crafts of Gujarat

The Cloth of Goddess Mother, or Mata ni Pachedi, as the term is popularly called, is a very popular narrative scroll from Gujarat. These were made by the Vaghris, the wandering caste. The Vaghris were once a wandering caste, some of whom have now settled in Ahemdabad, the great industrialized city of Gujarat  First they take a block and it is printed and then later they fill in the colours using a stick like the same way kalamkari work is done.

 

 

Patola of Patan (Double Ikkat Weaving)

Colouricious-Patola-of-Patan-300x226 Textiles Crafts of GujaratThe art of weaving double Ikat sari locally known as Patola is still surviving in Patan.  It is the use of tie and dye technique which is used to make the double ikat.  The warp and weft are both tied and dyed and then put on to the loom for weaving.  There are only 2 or 3 family in patan doing this type of weaving.  During the 15th 16 century the patola from patan was exported to Malaysia and Indonesia.

 

 

Mushroo Weaving

Colouricious-Mushroo-Weaving-300x225 Textiles Crafts of GujaratMushroo is actually an Arabic word meaning permitted.  In Islam it was prohibited to wear pure silk directly on to the body, and that is how this craft came into existence.  The Mushroo fabric is made of Silk/Rayon warp and cotton weft. They are woven together and the end result is you get the silk/rayon threads on the outside and the cotton remains in the inside.

 

 

 

 

Ahir Embroidery

Colouricious-Ahir-Embroidery-300x169 Textiles Crafts of GujaratAhir community consider themselves to be the down line of Lord Krishna and they migrated to Gujarat along with lord Krishna when he migrated from Mathura to Dwarka, the Ahir embroidery is one of the best in the region.

 

 

 

Rabhari Embroidery

Colouricious-Rabhari-Embroidery-300x225 Textiles Crafts of GujaratRabhari which means wonderers and this community they say are the down line of Lord Shiva, and they are divided into various clans and the embroidery of each clan is different, and very beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

Muthwa Embroidery

Colouricious-Muthwa-Embroidery-300x158 Textiles Crafts of GujaratMuthwa community has migrated from Arabia or from sindh some 500 years ago, their embroidery is one the best in the region, they use very small mirror and also the use of gold thread is done by them.  They are Muslims and among the 16 different Muslims clan in the kutch region.

 

 

Meghwal Embroidery

Colouricious-Meghwal-Embroidery-300x157 Textiles Crafts of GujaratMeghwals they consider them to be down line of Megh reshi and Mahatma Gandhi named them harijan, Gods owns People.  Their house and embroidery is very beautiful, they also use mirrors in the embroidery and the house have beautiful mud and mirror work inside.

 

History of Gujarat Textiles

From Farm to Fiber from Fiber to Factory from Factory to Fabric and from Fabric to Fashion, this is the story of five Fs of Fabric and Fashion.  Indians mainly have been wearing clothing’s made of locally grown cotton.  As far as our knowledge goes India was one of the first places where the cultivation of cotton existed and cotton was used and it is during the period as early as 2500 BC ie during the Indus valley civilization or what we call the Harappan era.   The presence of fabric worn by the people can be seen as a proof in the rock cut sculptures.  These sculptures show the figures of human wearing the clothes or fabrics which can be wrapped around the body, for eg the Sari or Turban and the Dhoti these are traditionally Indian wears which are tied around the body to cover oneself but done in various ways in different part of India and in different cast or communities around India.

Colouricious-Gujarat-Textiles1-300x200 History of Gujarat TextilesTextiles can be felt or spun fibers made into yarn and then netted, looped, knit or woven to make fabrics, these appeared in the Middle East during the late Stone Age.  It is seen that from the ancient times to the present day, there were various methods of textile production which were continually evolved and this led to choices of textiles available and it influenced how people carried their possessions, clothed themselves and also decorated their houses and surroundings. The rich and stylized worn by the aristocrats and ordinary and simple garments worn by the common people.

Textiles are connected to communities and no other region in India is as rich in folk costumes even now. Kutch in Gujarat which is the western most state of India you will find not one or two or three but more than 25 different types of embroideries or patch work or weaving patterns in Gujarat, each belonging to different ethnic groups and each ethnic group have their own unique style of embroidery, different motifs, patterns that gives them their visual identity.  To name a few ethnic groups like jat Muthwa, Rabari, Ahir, Sodha Rajputs, Haliputra, Meghwals etc have different style of embroidery namely, Suf, Kharek, Ari etc,   Not only is the embroidery of Gujarat Famous but is famous for its weaving also like the Double Ikkat Patola, or Mushroo weaving or the Tangaliya weaving, also Single ikkat weaving etc or let it be the shawls for the Rabari community also known as Dhabada in the local language. You can also see  felt making in kutch region.  Ajrak printing work of the Khatri community people who have been doing this for the past 9 generations can be seen here, Kharad weaving is another unique art that can be seen here and the most beautiful art is  Rogan Painting an art been done by only a hand full of people of the same family and probably the only family doing this work in India and may be even in the world. Gujarat is the place to visit if you are on a textile tour to India.

Colouricious-Gujarat-Textiles-2 History of Gujarat TextilesGujarat Textiles and Handicrafts reflect the splendid work of colours played in different forms of design. The major factor behind the success of the textile industry in Gujarat is the fact that it has managed to preserve its old tradition and rich cultural heritage. The state excels in both quality and designs of textiles, both customary and recent. Gujarat produce the widest range of woven fabrics like the patola, double ikat, bandhej tie and dye, the woven mushroo and the resist printing on cotton and silk.

Gujarat’s rich tribal folk contribute to the different variety of embroidery work from hundreds of years as per the tradition of each tribe or communities, this can be identified from the various stitches they do on motifs, patterns which are in use for hundreds of years Popularly termed as the textile state of India, Gujarat has one of the most flourishing textile industries in the country. And it was very truly said and called the Manchester of the East during the British era, and the Denim Capital of India.

Block Printing Styles of Gujarat

It is important to try and understand something about the Caste system in India when looking at art and craft, as it is the reason why a person practices their specific area of expertise.  Caste remains an influential social structure in this sector, determining to a great extent the transmission of knowledge and skill.  The area of block printing is no exception and is dominated by two castes – the Chhipas and Khatris, the name Chhipa or Chhipi is derived from the Hindi word meaning ‘to print’.  People tend to marry within their caste and first cousin marriage is common in the Khatris clan, often securing the alliance of two dynasties.

Despite the bonds of caste there were no formal guild or collective organization formed for many years and it was down to the individual clan to be entrepreneurs, this was particularly the case under British rule which secured the free exercise of individual energy and initiative, but marked a relaxation of any type of organisational protection.

After independence new government agencies were set up to aid the growth in the craft area and the revival of block printing gathered momentum from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Organisations such as the Gujarat State Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation (GSHHDC) and Rajasthli (Government of Rajastan Handicrafts Emporium) helped to aid the fruitful collaborations between hereditary block printers and professional designers, several from the National Institute of Design.  What blossomed from this was the transition of block printed textiles from caste dress to cat-walk, and saw it being developed to suit the needs of city dwellers.

Ajrakh

Ajrakh Block Printing Styles of GujaratAjrakh block printing is one of the most complex styles of block printing in India, undergoing over 14/16 stages of work to create the finished product.  The cloth contains many meanings, the most popular story is that Ajrakh means ‘keep it today’.  It is also linked to the Arabic word for indigo –Azrakh.  Indigo dyed products are produced world over, with variations from continent to continent and it has mostly grown around the places where climates have the ability to produce the natural plant of indigo.  Whether it is in Japan or India, the dyeing of cloth with indigo is very laborious, with many vats of dye and water required.   The decreasing water table in Gujarat is proving to become a problem for those needing water for this work, so all efforts are being made to recharge and stabilize the area since it was affected by the earthquake.

The block printing style of Ajrakh is another skilled craft coming from the area of Kutch/Katchchh, practiced mostly by men in communities like the Rabaris, Maldharis and Ahirs where they wear the printed cloth as turbans, lungis and stoles.  The many stages of dyeing and printing are required to keep the dye fast and even, prepared in lengths the finished product is, like the embroideries of these people, identifiable to the worker and area.  Each Ajrakh artisan uses his own process and they can recognise each others work quite easily. When worn it is also a symbol of identity about their caste, gender, age, religious affiliation, marital status and economic standing.

This highly skilled craft of ajrakh block printing came to Kutch from Sind with the Khatris (artisans who ‘apply colour to cloth’).  After the devastation of the earthquake a new village was formed aptly named Ajrakhpur (place of Ajrakh) and today there are Khatris living and working here.  Almost the whole village is involved in the practice, now stimulated by government initiatives it looks like the younger generation of block printers are able to sustain their parents trade.  They are full of new ideas for designs while also being sensitive to their own families’ traditions.

So the process itself goes roughly as follows; first the cloth is washed in water to remove any finish or starch that may be present.  It is important to remove any trace for the dye to fix to the cloth.  The cloth is soaked in castor oil, soda ash and camel dung overnight, left to dry in the sun and when partly dried the process is repeated 7 to 9 times until the cloth foams when rubbed.  It is then rinsed in plain water.

The cloth is then dyed in a cold solution of myrobalan (powdered nut of the harde tree).  This stage is known as kasanu.  The Myrobalan turns the cloth a yellow colour and works as a mordant, helping to fix the dyes.

After drying in the sun, a ‘resist’ stage is then applied.  A mixture of lime and gum arabic is printed on the cloth to define the outline of the design, if the cloth is to be double sided it is repeated on the other side as well.

Next a paste is made by fermenting scrap iron, raw cane sugar and gram flour.  The fermenting takes about a week or two depending on the weather and when a yellow scum appears it is ready. The liquid is drained off and added to tamarind seed powder, then boiled.  The resulting paste ‘iron paste’ is printed on the cloth and gives the black part of the design. Similarly a red colour is produced when tamarind seed powder is mixed with alum (aluminium sulphate).  The next stage is a combined one where a paste of alum, flour, clay and gum is printed where there are to be large areas of red and at the same time a resist of lime and gum Arabic.  This stage is known as gach.  Sawdust is sprinkled on the printed areas to protect the design from smudging.

The seventh stage is that of indigo.  The preparing of an indigo vat is a skill in itself, it has to become established over a period of time.  Here the dye bath contains natural indigo, sagikhar salt, lime, casiatora seed and water, this is mixed in a clay vessel, plastic barrel or concrete vat.  Sometimes jaggery is added to aid fermentation.

The cloth is dyed in the indigo vat and after is washed in running water and laid flat to dry.

The next part of the journey for this cloth is the ninth one of either madder or al dyeing, depending on the availability of the dye stuffs it is boiled in a solution of tamarix and either madder or al root powder.  Then washed and sun dried. By this stage the red and black areas of the design develop and the resist areas are revealed as white.

Alum printing is now repeated and then left for several days. After this another round of indigo dyeing and then sun drying.  Then it is washed in running water and dried again. Stages 13 and onwards are repeats of earlier processes, more dyeing, variations for colours like green and resist printing for white areas of design. By around the eleventh process the cloth is dried in the sun and sprayed with a liquid made from pomegranate skins, this is repeated and then done with a turmeric and lime spray. Finally the cloth is washed again.

The Ajrakh block printed fabric is a valued fabric and worn by Muslim and Dalit cattle herders in the villages of northern Kutch.  It is also worn at weddings with designs similar to those on Persian carpets – a central motif surrounded by several borders.

It is not surprising then that chemical dyes are used by some producers to speed up the process.  Vegetable dye is susceptible to climatic changes but some find that the distinctive look is all part of its charm, and of course it is less harmful to the environment.

Bandhani

Bandhani-Indian-Tie-and-Dye Block Printing Styles of GujaratAnother type of decorated cotton cloth is that of Bandhani, a tie-dye craft.  Bandhna gave its name to the old bandana pocket handkerchiefs and the word originates from the Sanskrit word for ‘to tie’.

Bandhani relies on indigo dyeing with the pattern being formed by the ‘resist’ part of the design.  The white ‘resisted’ areas are created by binding parts of the cloth with cotton thread and making small stitches.  To knot the undyed silk or cotton, the cloth is sent to a draughtsman, or chitarnar, who divides the whole surface into one-inch squares.  Then it goes to the knotter, or handnari, generally a woman or girl who picks up a little cloth at each corner of the squares and ties it into a knot with pack thread.  This would be for a quite basic design and for something more intricate there will be more ties and stitches made in the places were the dye should not touch. Thus forming a resist for the dye.

After being knotted all over, the cloth is sent to the dyer, who dips it into the colour required for the ground of the pattern; after which the knots are all untied.  For the simplest of patterns only one dye will be undertaken, but if more than one colour is desired it will continue to be knotted and dipped.  Different colour combinations are popular in the north and south of Gujarat.

A wide variety of Bandhani has evolved over the centuries because of its close links with the religious and social customs of different people. The main colours used are yellow, red, green and black. After the process of stitching and dyeing is complete a variety of patterns emerge, including, dots, squares, waves and stripes.

Rajasthan is one of the most important centers of the tie and dye textile. Each area, each caste and each tribe has its special designs as we have seen with the other crafts of Kutch.  The simple pattern bandhani textiles are inexpensive and allow the women of poorer communities to dress colourfully.  Generally speaking the more dots on the work the more expensive it is.

Usually men do the dyeing while women do the tying and stitching, with each dot being as tiny as a pin-head. The cloth is first washed and bleached to prepare it for absorbing the dyes. After this, it is then sent to the women who do the tying, who lift small portions of the fabric and tightly tie a thread around it. The more minuscule the raised stitch the finer the bandhana. The tied textile is then dipped in a light colour first while the tied areas retain the original ground colour. If a second dye is required, the areas to be retained in the first dye are tied for resist and the cloth dipped in a darker dye. This process is repeated, if several colours are to be combined.

The areas of Gujarat that have become the main centres for tie and dye fabrics are Jamnagar (where the water brings out a bright red), and Ahmedabad.  It can also be found in Patola and Morvi, which have a unique history of fine fabric production.

Roghan Gold Printing

Roghan-Gold-Print Block Printing Styles of GujaratEvidence of Roghan or Khadi gold printing dates back to 1411 and some fabrics from the medieval period still exist.  Now it is worked in Nakhatrana Taluka of Kutch where cloth decorated using this method is used as skirt lengths and for wall hangings

To apply the gold design to the cloth a paste is made from boiling castor oil, titanium dioxide and turpentine. This is printed onto the fabric with the use of a printing implement called a sancha, a brass stencil into which a wooden plunger is inserted pushing the paste through the holes and onto the fabric.  After this the gold or silver leaf or glitter is applied giving the appearance of brocade.

Roghan printing is not indigenous to India, it is a craft from Persia and came to India during the Mughal domination of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is a quick and simple method for gold printing and can be applied to many different fabrics, including velvet.

There are two types of printing called Rogan/Roghan, the other being the printing of colour patterns by hand with a thick oil based paint. The colour work and gold work share a lot in common, including the use of the Sancha brass stencil.

In the Nirona village of Kutch there are three families practicing this craft but producing it in two very different ways.  In one method the Rogan paste is made from castor oil and natural dyes (like mud, leaves and plants), pounded and heated on a slow fire then the coloured paste is kept in pots until required.  The printer dips a thin rod into the pot of paste and the fine ribbon of sticky slow oil paint is skillfully painted onto the cloth.  The cloth is folded over to blot the paint and thus a mirror image is produced.

Another variation is the same as for the gold printing. A thick residue called Khadi is made from hot safflower, (castor or linseed oil and cold water, it is then mixed with chalk powder and colour pigment and added to a binder agent to form a thick dye.  Here again the metal stencil block (with plunger) is used to push the thick dye through the holes and pressed onto the fabric.  Design motifs generally are of floral, paisley, geometric, birds and animals. This type of work can be more intricate and fine looking than the hand work as the stencil gives more control over the finished pattern.

Kalamkari

kalamkari Block Printing Styles of GujaratKalamkari is the name for pen work in printing onto fabric and like Rogan work, can be produced in two ways, one by hand-drawing the other with a block. It uses more subtle colours in its process than other printing as it only uses natural dyes.  The word Ghalam means pen and Ghalamkar is drawing with a pen.

In ancient times groups of singers, musicians and painters, called chitrakattis moved from village to village to tell the great stories of Hindu mythology.  They illustrated the historical stories onto large bolts of canvas, painting on the spot with dyes extracted from plants.  This was the start for the Kalamkari artisan (or Qualamkars as they were called then) who notated the stories into picture form and illustrations onto cloth.

The more intricate version of Kalamkari work is the Srikalahasti style – using pen alone to paint designs freehand and to fill in the colour also.  Using only natural dyes and colours the entire process requires 17 steps to complete.

In this craft the colours follow themes, women figures are yellow, gods in blue, and demons in red and green.  The backgrounds are generally red with motifs of lotus.  Generally the tradition of telling religious stories continues as the most common theme, Kalamkari designs are of sun chariots, famous deities and scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabarata.

The Ramayana and Mahabrata are both Sanskrit epics of ancient India, both discussing the Gods and morals to live life by, the later being the longest poem every written.  These works are compared in importance to that of the Bible, Shakespeare, Homer, Greek drama or Qur’an.

Kalamkari work can be said to be truly unique as no two pieces are the same, it is also incredibly eco-friendly and as people all over the world now understand the harmful effects of chemicals in the water, the taste for natural dyed fabrics is growing. Some of the items used to make the colours are mango bark, madder root, pomegranate seed and the myrobalam fruit.

The People of Gujarat

Textile-Tour-of-Gujarat The People of GujaratIf you are interested in the different crafts of India, and Gujarat in particular, then it is important to know about the people who make it, who take it very seriously and see their craft as important, like a precious emblem which must be protected.  Styles identify their users, and those making it can identify the work of others by their stitches, and skill level. Embroidery can also serve as a source of information that tells of the embroiderers history.

In the area of Kutch (Kachchh) you can find the Rabari people, distinctive in their dress, these nomadic herders are scattered through the state.  They are identifiable by their traditional dress, women in black wool with masses of silver and gold jewellery, and the men in white jackets and dohti like wrapped lower garments.  There are subtle differences in their dress from one community to another and it can also denote their stature within their village.

The Rabari  (also known as Rewari) have a passion for decoration, embellishing their homes with mud work and mirror patterns and their costumes for special occasions, yet in everyday life they stand out from the crowd with a definite identity.  In India people like to follow their heritage back to the Gods and the Ribari elders believe they are descended from the Hindu God Shiva. The third God of the three major deities of Hinduism, Shiva is formidable the name meaning “The Auspicious One”.

For almost 1,000 years, the Rabari have roamed the deserts and plains of western India, it is thought they originate from the Iranian plateau.  The women dedicate long hours to embroidery, with one part of their style being distinctive, that of Shisha mirror work.  They pride themselves as being the best of the best, with each individual using it as an expression of their dynasty, a folk style evolved over generations.  The pictorial elements in their work depict their history as Camel traders and the harsh times of living in the desert. This tribe have their genealogy kept by a professional and it is also learnt in songs which they find important when it comes to marriage as they do not marry within their own clans.