Soof & Kharek Embroidery of Gujarat

Soof & Kharek Embroidery of Gujarat

Embroidery from the Saurashtra and Kutch regions in Gujarat is extremely versatile. One of the oldest embroidery forms is the kathi. The themes range from tales of romance and heroism to religious motifs. Ganesh is embroidered on small squares of fabric which are then worshipped. Heer is an embossed stitch which derives its name from the soft silk found locally. Light and shadow create clever illusions of variations in colour. The colours used include madder red, black, off-white, indigo, ivory, yellow, and green. Mirrors are also used for embellishment. Adiya fatiya is a stitch which automatically brightens up a fabric. Multicoloured fabric pieces are used to produce patchwork items that are widely coveted. The designs are mainly geometrical. Abhala is the mirror embroidery where small round pieces of mirror are fixed on to the fabric by buttonhole stitching; the embroidery is done in a stem or herringbone stitch with silken thread. The colour blends include rust and deep red, light green and pink, and purple and indigo blue. This embroidery is practised mainly by the kanbi community. This community also decorates homes with elaborate embroidery pieces. The other items embellished with this combination of mirror work and embroidery are head cloths, skirts, and richly embroidered kanjris or blouses. The embroidery from Kutch is known as aribharat or ari. This is made from silk threads using a hook. The stitch is also called mochibharat. The ari embroidery is usually done on locally available satin gajji cloth. The motifs found commonly are bootis, flowering bushes, dancing peacocks, and human figures in dancing poses. The kanbibharat is done with cotton thread with darning and herring-bone stitches. The colours used are saffron, yellow, white, purple, and green. Adornments for domestic animals, covers for wooden chests called pataras, and quilts are made commonly. The embroidery of the Rabari community is usually done on a maroon background and the motifs are enclosed in a circle with an arrangement of mirror bootis. Coloured threads and mirrors are used. Cotton and quality silks are used by jats and mutuwas to ornament women's garments (like the kurta or saba)The colours are red, white, gold, yellow, blue, and black, and the motifs are geometrical, birds, animals, and dolls. Several kinds of stitches, including the buttonhole, and chain and inverted chain, are used, with mirror work being used to enhance the ornamentation. The bead work on cloth in Saurashtra and Kutch use embroidery and bandhani patterns. The various communities in Gujarat --- bharwads, ahirs, rabaris, jats, sodhas, and harijans --- have their own styles of embroidery. The details of embroidery can often help identify the caste, community, and marital status of the craftsperson(s).

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