Friday, June 28, 2013

Kutch embroidery

Kutch, in the northwest of the state of Gujarat, is famous for mirror worked embroideries.  These textiles are a study in the skill and design mastery of generations of women.  Varying by region, their intricate patterns tell the story of the maker's lineage, caste, and prosperity.  As an important part of a girl's dowry, these embroideries are worked on for years by the women of each family.  In addition to the usual gifts of jewelry and cooking utensils, a dowry almost always includes embroidered wedding outfits, wall hangings for the bride's new home, and decorations for domesticated animals.  
The bright colors of Kutch embroidery stand out in the dusty desert, and celebrate youth in particular.  Unmarried girls and young children are often the most kaleidoscopic in any village.  Religious festivals are also important places to show off one's embroidery skill - from camels and horses, to the carts they pull, trappings for all to see are often brilliantly ablaze with shocking color and detailed stitches. 

 Walking through Tierra since our textile shipment came in, I find it difficult to keep from lingering all day on the piles of textiles we just received from India.  Anyone who has ever been to my house can surely attest that I do not, under any circumstances, need any more pillows - but yet there are a few that are seriously calling my name.
I will have to remember to post a photo of the pillow forts my kids come up with - you have never seen a more confusing riot of color and cross-cultures.  (And expense come to think of it - the things I let them do - ha!)

Toran, like the four below, are hung over doorways or on celebratory tents during weddings or festivals.  The pennants that hang down represent mango leaves that welcome all comers, be they man or god, and serve as good luck symbols.    
For a great article on Toran take a peek at the Cloth and Kind, a fabulous blog about the joy of textiles and the world of design.  Krista Nye Schwartz is the curator and created a regular column called Provenance that details the origins and uses of textiles the world over.  Jacqueline Wein from the blog Tokyo Jinja researches and writes each column.  Take a peek at 

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