Handicraft items of Gujarat

Poojan Jani
11 min readApr 25, 2021

Hello Artists!! Hope you all are doing good. As this is the period of self-lock down, and I thought of writing about some of the famous handicraft items of Gujarat. No doubt, We have talked about India’s Handicrafts, but its State Gujarat is also a Hub of Handicrafts. Gujarat is an artistic state in India. So, on behalf of Littings, I ( Hencey Thacker) present a collection of the most famous handicrafts from Gujarat that are reflecting its aesthetics.

Handicrafts are an integral part of the lives of Gujarati people. One can see the reflection of Gujarat’s diversity through its art and crafts collection. Each and every district of Gujarat specializes in a different art form. Handicrafts of Gujarat are a beautiful amalgamation of stitches, colors, patterns, and embroidery. From colorful tie-dye to sophisticated wooden antiques, there is no dearth of opulent handicrafts options in Gujarat. People who are having a keen interest in Handicrafts should take a tour of Gujarat.

Embroideries amongst the art and craft section of Gujarat stand apart. Embroidery types like ‘Patola’, ‘Rabari’, ‘Mutwa’ and ‘soof’ are the pride of Gujarat. Each and every item is made to perfection by the renowned artisans and craftsmen of Gujarat. Traditional artisans in tribal areas dye, weave, embroider and print some of Gujarat’s finest textiles. Warli Painting, Rabari Embroidery, Pithora Paintings, and Rogan Painting are exquisite works made by the tribes of Gujarat.

Gujarat is famous for its classy thread work. ‘Zari’ industry based in Surat and ‘Kathi’ embroidery of Kutch is the best example of thread works. Bandhani or Bandhej is another famous specialty of Gujarat. This basic tie-dye work is available in various textiles like cotton, georgette, and chiffon. Bandhani have found maximum application in sarees, salwar, kurtas, and other forms of dress materials.

Nothing can beat the quality of leather that one can find in Gujarat. Items made of leather that are famous in Gujarat are footwear, purses, the bat was, mirror frames, and many other articles. The designs carved meticulously on various handcrafted items bear a powerful imprint of the old tradition.

There’s something special about the handicrafts of Gujarat, they are expressive, unique, and beautiful. Listed below are some beautiful art and crafts forms of Gujarat that have flourished far and wide up to the western quarters.

Tie-dye — Bandhani:

Bandhej or Bandhani or tie-dye products are best produced in Jamnagar and Kutch region of Gujarat. One can see glimpses of Gujarat culture in the dress materials made of tie-dye technique. The Bandhej garments are available in many patterns and each one of them has different. See below for patterns details:

Chokidar: Primary pattern of the square, elephants, and other animals

Kambaliya: Pattern in the center and different designs on the border

Bandhan is ofJamnagar, Mandvi, and Bhuj are very much famous.

From a traditional perspective, women belonging to the state will also dress in Bandhani attire, with men wearing a Bandhani turban. Bandhani saree and dupatta are most in-demand and become famous handicraft all over the world.

Megha Tak expressed her feelings while watching the dyeing process of Bandhani in her blog story: “It was amazing to see that the uncovered waste lines on both sides of the road were flowing with colored water.”

Beadwork, an art or craft form of Gujarat is created by joining 2–3 beads together. Gujarat specializes in the art of beadwork on clothes as it enhances its appeal. Gujarat is at the core of bead craft.It is known as ‘Moti Bharat,’ in other words ‘Bead India.’ Beads are used to create hanging chaklas, Indhonis, Mangal Kalash, nariyal, artifacts, necklaces, bangles, earrings, ornaments, motifs, patterns, and torans. Nylon thread is significantly used to make the bead craft. The nylon thread is strong enough to hold the beads properly. Most native beadwork is created by the tribal community of Dahod, Vadodara, and Panchmahals regions.

These are famous for their work:- Khambhat, Saurashtra, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Junagadh.

“Chella ji re … Mare hatu Patan thi Patola Monga Lavjo”

Patola, a double ikat (dyeing technique used to pattern textiles) woven saree made of silk, is one of the finest hand-woven sarees produced in Gujarat. These handmade sarees are very expensive and used to be worn by royal families. In this unique tie-dye technique, one can see identical patterns on both sides of the fabric. It approximately takes six months to one year for creating one saree. The reason behind its demand is the dyeing process, which takes a long time. There are primarily four patterns of Patola saree and all are created in Gujarat by the Salvi community. Mostly Patolas of Patan is very much famous. Whilst showing a 200-years-old saree during a colloquium in Dubai, Patola weaver Rahul Vinayak Salvi said”

“A Patan Patola may tear over time, but it will never lose its color.”

From small handicrafts to furniture, in Gujarat, one can see some of the best specimens of traditional woodwork. Woodwork craft is a classic combination of opulency and perfection. Woodwork and furniture from Surat, Kutchh, and Saurashtra; Minakari furniture from Rajkot and Sankheda furniture are simply the best. In Gujarat, one can find hand-carved exotic wood furniture of every style. Even inlay work using colored wood, horns, and even commercially viable options like plastic is used in artifacts, wooden plaques. Most noteworthy, the ‘Sandlin (sandalwood) woodcraft of Surat, Gujarat has its own place in the hearts of people. It takes years of experience to carpet delicate ‘sandli’ articles with state-of-the-art designs. Handcrafted wooden stuff of Gujarat is loved nationally and internationally.

Using a thread to do embroidery, Zari is a decorative element of textiles. Zari work plays an important part in Indian bridal dresses. The thread work is from Surat, Gujarat. These shimmery threads are used to make intricate yet fine designs.

The thread comes in three colors such as golden, silver and copper, which all look elegant when used in embroidery.

According to historians, the fashion of Zari began in the Mughal era. It was also the preferred fabric for the Mughal dressmakers to create royal outfits.

The most well known Zari embroideries are ‘Salama,’ ‘Katori,’ ‘Tiki,’ ‘Chalak’ and ‘Kangari’.Zari embroidery is famously used for both men’s and women’s clothing. Surat in Gujarat is the largest producer of Zari sarees & Zari made-ups like cantile, laces, ribbons, borders, trims, fringes, edges, and cords. Listed below are different kinds of zari work:

Kataoki Bel

Tilla or Maori Work

Kinari work

Hence, the work is practicing across India.

Clay and Terracotta Work

Figures and toys made of clay and terracotta are an essential part of Indian pottery. Gujarati Dangi tribes pray and worship their own clay god. Clay figures and toys like horses, cows, bulls, and buffaloes are like the watermark of Gujarati art style. Contemporary Mud work is the other name given to the clay craft of Gujarat. One can model wet clay into any shape and size according to the planned design.

The techniques of clay craft are inspired by familiar embroidery patterns and designs. Once the craft is done, it takes three to five days to dry off.

The art produces decorative and traditional items such as plates, bowls, handis, lanterns, wall pieces, and sculptures.

Clay: Kutch district

Terracotta: Chotta Udaipur

Leather Handicraft

The Leather Handicraft of Gujarat is a striking skill in India. Kutch regions are the origin of leathercraft. The leather items in Gujarat is mostly produced by the Meghwal community. Bhujodi village is famous for leather handicrafts.

This wonderful craft, which goes back in time continues to survive during the modern era with its strong impact. Subject to the demand for an era, leathercraft is primarily used to produce saddles, armors, shields, and swords. In contemporary times, wonderful items made with leather include footwear, bags, cushion covers, and artifacts. One can see the leather handmade items in beautiful colors and embroideries. Narsi Bhai Bijlani who was the master of this craft moved from Pakistan to Gujarat after partition. Tourists who are on a shopping spree to Gujarat shouldn’t forget to purchase vulnerable leather products.

Gujarat, the oldest block printing center in the world, is still the major producer of block prints. Each design of the blocks has a traditional approach. Flowers, leaves, stems, and trees are the most common designs of this art. Twinkling stars in the clear sky, Egyptian tombs, patterns of abstracts, and dense forest with the beautiful color combination are amongst the known block printing patterns.

The following types of hand block prints are famous in Gujarat:

Ajarakh printing of Dhamadka and Ajarakhpur in Kutch

Matani-Pachedi or Kalamkari of Gujarat

Vegetable ‘prints from Dessa, Ahmedabad and Kutch

‘Batik’ prints from Bhujpur, Mundra, and Mandvi villages of Kutch ‘Saudagiri’ Prints from Ahmedabad

One of its finest art is seen in Kutch, Ahmedabad, and Jamnagar.

The products made with Hand Block Printing include ladies’ suits, men’s kurta, bed sheets, pillow covers, and wall decorative pieces.

Dr. Eiluned Edwards, of Nottingham Trent University’s School of Art & Design, talked about ‘Block Printing’ during an exhibition saying.

“Until recently block prints were key components of caste dress, reflecting regional affiliation, occupational and religious identity, social and even economic status.”

Patchwork and Applique

Patchwork and Applique are stitching techniques for creating an embroidered piece of cloth.

Banaskantha district Gujarat is famous for this craft. Kutch is the origin of Patchwork and Applique art.

The art of making embroidered pieces and assembling them on a cloth might sound easy but it takes an artistic sense to create each piece. Multiple patterns together create a jigsaw that makes the fabric look more attractive and vibrant.

Dark-colored threads, beads, mirrors, and other adornments are important aspects of Patchwork and Applique. Door and wall hangings are the most in-demand items of this craft. Above all, an artistic fact about this artwork is that once the patches are assembled on the fabric, they tend not to sag or get wrinkled. Patchwork in vivid colors, using scrap and waste material is done by Bharwad women to make items such as quilts, awnings, and camel saddle cover.

Embroidery work and Rabari Embroidery

The embroidery work of Gujarat turns out to be the top on the shopping list of every tourist who is visiting the state. Embroidery designs in Gujarat are as diverse as the religions followed and languages are spoken in the state. The unique combination of pattern, stitches, thread, shapes, and color makes one embroidery looks apart from the other. The most used stitching pattern is herringbone. This Gujarati handwork includes handbags, clutches, clothes, wall pieces, table mats, footwear, and cushion covers.

Following types of embroidery work are famous in Gujarat:

‘Ari’ and ‘soof’ embroideries from Banaskantha

‘Kathipa’, Mahajan’, Kanbi’, ‘Rabari’ embroideries from Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Junagadh regions of Saurashtra and kutch

‘Banni or Her Bharat’, ‘Ahir’, ‘Mutwa’, ‘So, ‘Neran’ , ‘Kharek’, ‘Kutch or Aribharat’ embroideries from Kutch.

Rabari Embroidery has deep roots in the Kutch regions of Gujarat. Women from the Rabari community started this art and named it after their community. As women from the tribe used to love being vibrant, they created their own Rabari Embroidery clothes. Dhebar and Kachchi are the most common types of Rabari Embroidery.

Rabari Embroidery has been evolving around for centuries, extending as a modern-day craft because of its distinctive designs.

This handiwork has its place almost in and every part of the world.

Ami Shroff, daughter to the grand old lady of Kutch, Chandaben Shroff, mentions what embroidery means to the Kutch region.

“Embroidery is not just a fashion trend in Kutch, it is the very fabric of this place.”

Khavda Pottery Craft is from North Kutch, Gujarat. Earlier people used to make domestic items such as cooking pots, plates, castles, and so forth.

It is said men bring mud from the lakeside and give it a shape. Then, ladies do all the decorations on it. Since then the art of earthenware is living in the lives of people, especially in India. The craft also has held a remarkable position from the times of the Indus Valley Civilization. In India, people still use pottery products significantly. Diya, pots, vases, and other showpieces are popular pottery handicrafts.

Most noteworthy, people say that a pot keeps the water cold normally and is good for health.

Home Decor Art of Gujarat is adored in the world. Foreigners who visit India love buying handmade decorative items. As Gujarat is also a hub of arts and artisans, this handcraft is a vital part of the state. Home Decor Art includes a wall hanging, door hanging, wall piece, table cloths, cushion covers, and much more. Ostentatious Gujarati handmade items are part of almost every house in India. These home decor handicrafts are cheap yet give a refined look both to the interior and exterior.

Crafted by the Khatris of the Kutch region, Rogan Painting captures the essence of India. Rogan, a specialty of Nirona village, near Bhuj is a unique technique by which cloth is decorated with an intricate, embossed, and lacquer-work pattern. Rogan Painting has its origin in Iran, they are made of naturally colored stones. The painting is made by boiling the color in castor for two days till it turns into a thick gooey paste. The artists take the colored paste in lumps on the palm and then use a steel pencil like a brush to paint on cloth. The art form is available in the form of wall hangings, tablecloths, curtains, sarees, and skirt borders.

Made on textile, it is a painting, which uses a special brush to get the right perfection. Therefore, the paintings take a level of mastery to come up with such brilliant work.

The paint is made with castor oil and natural colors from vegetables or flowers. It takes a couple of days for the paint to turn into a paste to make the crafts.

Rogan painting artist Abdul Gaffoor Khatri, states his experience working on a piece:

“Every piece requires long hours, patience, and effort to make that beautiful product.”

Tangaliya or Daana Weaving, Dangassia is the native community of Gujarat who began this craft 700 years handwoven textile craft found only in the Surendranagar region of Gujarat. The pattern is used for preparing shawls, dupatta, dress material, and products of Home décor & accessories. Tangaliya shawls are one of the most famous crafts of Gujarat. The complex process of extra twisting to create gematrical patterns makes it more special.

Colorful dots, which are simultaneously made on both ends of a shawl is the soul of Tangaliya Work. The handwoven technique is used to make a fabric or shawl, by using different colored threads. This handicraft speaks volumes about its perfection across the world.

Warli Painting is a tribal art done by the tribes nestled in the border area of Gujarat. Through these paintings, tribes express their beliefs, traditions, and customs. The whims and moods of tribal life make for interesting themes, which is why Warli Paintings are much more than designs on walls they are authentic depictions of a way of life.

The simple pictorial language of Warli painting is matched by a rudimentary technique. The ritual paintings are usually created on the inside walls of village huts. The walls are made of a mixture of branches, earth, and red brick that make a red ochre background for the paintings. The War only paints with a white pigment made from a mixture of rice flour and water, with gum as a binder. A bamboo stick is chewed at the end to give it the texture of a paintbrush. Walls are painted only to mark special occasions such as weddings, festivals, or harvests.

Coca-Cola India launched a campaign featuring Warli painting to highlight the ancient culture and represent a sense of togetherness. The campaign was called “Come Home on Deepawali” and specifically targeted the modern youth. The campaign included advertising on traditional mass media, combined with radio, the Internet, and out-of-home media.

Native, tribal, and other communities are the reason behind Gujarati famous handicrafts. From designing items to clothing, the handiwork of Gujarat has played a key role in folk lives. With no medium of interior designing and cloth decoration, people implemented their own style. Those styles have made their presence felt. Gujarat is a treasure trove of art and craft. The state is a paradise for those who are keen on shopping for traditional products like clothes, kitchen utensils, silverware, purses, wooden frames, etc. With so many handicraft options up for grabs for tourists, Gujarat is soon going to be a shopper’s paradise. AndFamous handicrafts of Gujarat are standing young, despite existing for a long time.

Originally published at https://www.thelitthings.com.