The heat, thorny shrubs, and the salty marshland make Kutch in Gujarat one of the most arid landscapes in India. It is also one of the most colourful, thanks to the vibrant and colourful craft traditions of the communities who call this arid region home. Here’s what to bring back when you visit Kutch next.
Gujarat’s khavda pottery is made exclusively from a kind of clay called ‘Rann ki mitti’ found in Ludia village in Bhuj. It’s a tradition that’s carried on from the Indus valley civilisation? Incredibly, the khavda pottery style is identical to excavated pottery found in Harappa and Mohenjo Daro from almost 5,000 years ago. Somehow having travelled to the Kutch region, the style sees men shape the ‘rann ki mitti’ into utensils and decorative wares. After they are fired, the pottery is coated in a thin wash of geru, a local soil, which lends a subtle warm colour. Women then decorate the wares with dots of clay-based paint (red, white, and black) using bamboo twigs. The designs are usually inspired by nature.
Clothes And Accessories
Kutch embroidery is arguably the most popular attraction in the district. People from different states and even countries visit the dry lands to take back the classic chaniya choli with mirror work and colourful handwork. The combination of stitches, patterns and colours are inspired by the cultural roots of each tribe. Some 45 tribes reside in Kutch, and each of them have their own style of dress and embroidery. You can pick up colourful embroidered patches, distinctive woven and embroidred shawls, stoles, scarves, and even kurtas and dresses. One of the best places to pick up shawls ia at Bhujodi – one of the most prominent and popular craft centers in the area, located at a distance of 15 minutes from Bhuj. With the presence of the Hiralaxmi Craft Park that houses items from almost all the nearby villages, displayed in traditionally designed shops, Bhujodi is the perfect place to indulge in some souvenir shopping.
No store you walk into, will sport anything but bright and intricately worked items, a heavily inviting contrast to the surrounding landscape. While shopping for embroidered clothing is what people understandably most often pursue, there are various other charming knicks-knacks wrapped in the traditional embroidery style that are irresistible. You could find umbrellas, wallets, book covers and even shoes tailored to fit the flamboyant personality of the West.
Copper Bell Art And Lacquer Prints
Located about 40 kms from Bhuj, this village in known for three art forms – Copper Bell Art, Lacquer Print and Rogan Art. You can meet the talented craftsmen in their homes, and watch them hard at work, creating one masterpiece after another. The locals are warm and friendly, so it will be great if you could strike up a conversation and learn about the history of the art form and some technical details of its creation. There are items available for sale at prices lower than that in the market with room for negotiation.
The distinctive silver jewellery of Kutch worn acts as an identity marker to distinguish the numerous tribes in the area. The pieces are passed down through generations as heirloom property. You can pick up bracelets and anklets or gorgeous necklaces, nose rings, earrings, and finger rings.
The best time to visit the region is between November and March. Or drop in during the Rann Utsav when you may join the colourful revelry; don your adventurer’s hat and go on a trip to explore the villages in the area.