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The People of Gujarat

The People of Gujarat

Textile-Tour-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.


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