Dotted with a thousand tiny specks, possessing a fine crinkled texture and dyed in rich vibrant colours, ‘Bandhani’ or ‘tie and dye’ of Gujarat draws immense admiration and attention alike. This stunning piece of art is a legacy of the Gujarat Textiles industry and showcases their brilliant craftsmanship through intricate designs. The craft takes its name from ‘Bandhan’, the Sanskrit word for ‘tying’ and refers to both the technique as well as the end product. It is created by a tedious process of pinching, tying and resist dying the fabric.

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Introduction:

Usage:

Bandhani craft is still widely used in traditional attires like ‘Dupattas’ (5) or ‘Odhanis’ (1), ‘Saris’ (drapes of different length) and ‘ghagras’ (long skirts) by ladies and ‘turbans’ by the men folk in India. This rich craft holds an eminent role in Gujarati Hindu weddings and is used as part of the bride’s wedding attire. The bride wears a ‘Panetar Sari’ ; a special traditional attire of Gujarati women with just the border decorated by Bandhani dots during the ceremony and is given a ceremonial Bandhani garment known as ‘Gharcholu’ as a gift by the groom. Apart from its religious and traditional significance, Bandhani has also transcended into urban fashion with contemporary usage as dress material, stoles, bags, skirts and in home decor as cushion covers, bed sheets, curtains etc.


Significance:

Adored by womenfolk, Bandhani enjoys a huge popularity amongst traditional communities like the ‘Kumhars’, ‘Jats’, ‘Harijans’, ‘Memans’ and ‘Rabaris’. 

‘Bandhani’, the art of tie and dye assumes a different expression in each house. The ‘Rabaris’ (2) cerate black stoles with red dots dyed on wool, while the ‘Muslim Khatris’ use it as ‘Chandrokhani’ (like the moon), a beloved traditional wedding attire worn by the bride and groom on different occasions to mark their wedding or ‘Nikah’. The ‘Khatris’, ‘Parsis’, ‘Memans’ and ‘Sonaars’ have a particular proclivity for Bandhanis done on silk.

The womenfolk of the village mainly do the tedious and intricate task of making the motifs tying tiny knots. These women multi-task as talented textile artists creating beautiful motifs, as well as deftly manage to accomplish their household chores. A typical single stole can have 4000 to 5000 knots (1) and interestingly these women can tie up to 700 knots in a single day. It is comparatively easier to tie knots in finer fabrics like silk or cotton than in wool. Two to three layers of the fabric, depending upon the thickness of the fabric can be tied together to reduce the labor. The latter requires a careful touch, as the knots are fastened by pulling with the teeth.

Special care is taken in the choice of threads for this process; for an improper choice can prove disastrous, as dye penetration leads to distorted motifs. The fine-ness of dots depends on two key elements, the material on which Bandhani is to be done and the number of layers folded-in for tying.

To preserve the rich texture of Bandhani, it is always stored crumpled inside a muslin cloth and this extends its life. Another measure to increase its life is that every two-three months it is taken out and laid in mild sunlight. It is believed that the life of Bandhini extends with body heat and exposure to the sun. The threads that remain after untying of the fabric are made into balls and used again for tying knots on the fabric.


Myths & Legends:


History:

The origins of Bandhini are believed to lie in an ancient era, the exact time of which could not be traced. The earliest known examples of the textile have been excavated from a tomb at ‘Astana’ in Chinese Turkistan, dating 4th century AD. 

In India, the earliest use of this craft has been evidenced in wall paintings of the Ajanta caves (1), dating back to the 6th – 7th century AD. Women wearing dotted tie-dye bodice similar to present day Bandhani are depicted in these paintings. The ornamentation, the postures and the musical instruments in the painting suggest that it’s a group of women musicians and dancers from the Golden Era of Indian history.

The earliest written reference to Bandhini is in Bana’s ‘Harshacharita’ or the ‘Life of King Harsha‘ (606-648 AD), in which the Royal poet Bana narrates the wedding of King’s sister. In this, he describes with beautiful detail, the tie and dye work done on her special ‘Odhani’ (head cover). King Harsha is known for his taste and works to promote arts and crafts in his reign.

In the Jain manuscripts (2) of 12th century, the craft is documented through various illustrations depicting dot-patterned garments. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the ‘tie-dyed silk handkerchiefs of Kasim-bazar’ were majorly exported to London and other places, where they were auctioned. The earliest surviving pieces of Bandhani in Gujarat are the small fragments of silk used by Jain monks in interleaving manuscript pages. These were done to protect paintings within. These vestigial remnants of fine silk Bandhini were found in the ‘Kalpasutra’ manuscript dating back to early 15th century.

Some oral histories and traditions also imply the advent of this technique in Gujarat by craftsmen migrating from Sindh in the 16th century. It is seen that nowhere else has Bandhini reached such heights of technique and design innovation as it has in Gujarat. A wide range of materials like varieties of silk and wool are used in addition to cottons.

The use of wool however is limited to making ‘skirts’, ‘shawls’ and ‘Odhanis’ for the ‘Rabaris’ and ‘Bharwads’, the Hindu herding communities of Kutch. The satin weave known as ‘Gajji’, an expensive Bandhini textile of early 20th century is an appropriate example of finely worked designs that are characteristic to the Gujarati tie-dyed silks.

The Khatri community has been a prominent innovator and promoter of the craft since medieval times. They have largely been engaged in weaving, block printing as well and tie-dye. This community is divided broadly into the Hindu Khatris and Muslim Khatris, though the former have adopted the name of ‘Brahma-kshatriya’ and they both practice the craft. Their folk history maintains that they came to Gujarat from Punjab in the 15th century. Organizations like ‘The Central Cottage Industries Corporation’, which have a wide network of state handicraft shops are consistently working towards the sustainability and promotion of the craft by taking it door to door.


Design:

The ‘Bandhini’ technique with its highly elaborate motifs is used on different types of traditional saris to achieve different effects. These motifs include flowers, creeper plants, bells and jalas (web).

Knots with a different name are placed in clusters, for example: a single dot is called ‘Ekdali’, three knots is called ‘Trikunti’ and four knots is called ‘Chaubundi. Such clusters are worked intricately into patterns such as the ‘Shikargah’ (mountain-like), ‘Jaaldar’ (web-like), ‘Beldaar’ (vine-like) and many others.

In Bandhani, different colors are used to convey different meanings. Red signifies that a woman is a newly wedded; a yellow background suggests that a lady has recently given birth. Some of the more common designs are, ‘Dungar-Shahi’ or the ‘Mountain-Pattern’, ‘Boond’ or ‘a small dot’ that has a dark center, tear-shaped ‘Kodi’, and the ‘Laddu-Jalebi’ or ‘Swirl pattern’. In ‘Tikunthi’, circles and squares appear in groups of three; in ‘Chaubasi’ it appears in groups of four and in ‘Satbandi’ it appears in groups of seven. The difference between ‘Boond’ and ‘Ekdali’ lies in the fact that the former is a dot with a dark center while ‘Ekdali’ is just a single dot.

The following are a few traditional fabrics made using the Bandhini technique.

Gharchola
This is the most highly valued Bandhini worn as ‘Odhani’ or veil in the traditional weddings of Rajput clan and other affluent groups of Gujarat. The bride who wears a ‘Panetar Sari’ during the ceremony, is given the ceremonial ‘Gharcholu’ as a traditional wedding gift from the groom.

As a rule, the ‘Gharchola’ has a red background and the red field is divided into square compartments by woven strips of golden brocade. The prominent ‘Gharchola’ designs are either twelve sectioned / ‘Bar-Bhag’ or fifty sectioned / ‘Bavan Bhag’. Sometimes, the checks are tie-dyed to the cloth instead of the woven brocade work to save cost.

Traditionally, Bandhini work is done in white, yellow or green and the common motifs used are ‘Haathi’ (elephant), ‘Putali’ (doll), ‘Pachek’ or ‘Kharek’ (geometric motifs). All these are enclosed in a ‘Zari’ square.

Kalghar
‘Kalghar’, that is also red in color but with simpler patterns is worn by brides during the ‘Saat Phere’ or ‘Seven Vows’, a central part of the elaborate Hindu wedding ceremony. It is characterized by a diamond grid pattern in the central field with intricately done borders and ‘Pallav’. Apart from the traditional red, ‘Kalghar’ is also made in various colours like purple, green and blue.

Panetar 
‘Panetar’, a traditional wedding sari worn along with the ‘Gharchola’ is traditionally white in color with red colored borders and Pallav. The Bandhini patterns or motifs are created in white along with yellow borders. Occasionally a circular patch of red (called Gul) with a medallion worked in white or yellow dots is made on a white back ground. The motifs commonly used here are ‘Haathi’ (elephant) and ‘Pachek’ (geometric motifs). The motifs in ‘Gul’ can be ‘Raas-mandal’ (dancing maidens) or the ‘Cairy’ (paisley).

Chandrakhoni
The bridal apparel of the Khatri community includes ‘Chandrakhoni’ (odhani), ‘Abha’ or ‘Abho’ (kurta) and ‘Ejar’ (trousers). ‘Chandrakhoni’ meaning ‘like the moon’ is a square shaped fabric comprising two identical halves that join at the center. This is sometimes embellished with a strip of gold lace along the central seam. The basic design consists of a central medallion or ‘Gul’ with four smaller ‘Guls’ around it. Sometimes a ‘Sarpvel’ meaning ‘snake border, a type of scrolling pattern is made around the central ‘Gul’ and is believed to ward off evil.

Mata ni chundadi
This is a special kind of Bandhini, which is used by Hindus as an offering to mother Goddess. ‘Mata-Ni-Chundadi’ literally meaning ‘The Sari of Mother Goddess’ is characterized by a red background with specific geometric motifs formed by white dots and lined with ‘zari’ or gold embroidered borders.

Phulwadi
This is the name given to the sari where more than two colours are used. The name means a flower garden as the sari with the colours and dotted patterns looks like a garden in aerial view.

Phool chowk
This actually means the placement of flower motifs in a square pattern. This is an overall pattern with each unit formed by a cross consisting of ‘Kodivel’ (border formed by Kodi pattern). The ‘Pasa’ (a diamond shaped pattern) is filled in the four gaps formed in between the cross of the ‘Kodivel’.

Rumal
The ‘Rumal’ is a head covering or scarf made by the Khatri Muslim dyers, to be used by Khatri women. It is dyed in the traditional red and black colors, which are also associated with their bridal costumes. There is a central medallion placed in a black background called the ‘Chandrakhoni’. Absence of any human or animal motifs in the design indicates that the prominent usage is by the Muslim community.


Challenges:

The traditional patterns used in Bandhini involve a time consuming and tedious process, creating a large gap between the production and demand. This has triggered the cheaper screen-printed imitations of the craft in the market. The patterns have become bolder and the individual motifs are more spaced out, largely reducing its production costs.

Bandhini was earlier done exclusively by the Khatri community whose expertise was honed over years but presently many others are adopting this craft as a means of supplementing family income. This focus on financial output at the expense of creative quality has led to a gradual deterioration in quality. However, it also enables freedom to explore more creativity, creating healthy competition for everyone in the industry.


Introduction Process:

The technique of ‘Bandhani’ or ‘tie and dye’ is one of the oldest form of creating patterns on a piece of cloth. The apparently simple looking process actually requires a high level of mastery as well as time to tie these enumerable tiny knots at well-meditated distances and then dye the fabric. More complex designs require the steps to be repeated several times. It needs much care and forethought in ‘Resist-Dyeing’ the fabric not just in several colors but also for single time dyeing. The craftsmen engaged in the process are known as ‘Bandhej’. These complete patterns are only revealed once the knots are unraveled, which in most cases is preferred to be done by the end customer. This instant element of surprise leaves everyone awestruck.


Raw Materials:

Fabric 
Fabrics like cotton, silk, wool, georgette and chiffon are used for the process. These are obtained from the towns/cities of ‘Surat’, ‘Khambhat’, ‘Mumbai’ and ‘Ahmedabad’. Fabric materials are obtained in yard lengths, while Saris are brought from Bangalore, Madurai, Kanchipuram and Benares.

Thread 
Only cotton threads are used for tying knots. The count of yarn used to tie cotton and silk is 120s while for wool it is 2x20s or 2x10s counts.

Dyes and chemicals 
These are purchased from the local markets as well as brought from Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Surat. Different dyes are used for different materials like cotton, silk and wool for preferred results.


Waste:

Water is an element, which is used extensively in this craft from dyeing, washing to cleaning; making water availability is a crucial factor. However, water once used in any of these steps cannot be re-used and a fresh stock is necessary each time. This leads to large amounts of water wastage. Steps are required to save this precious resource.


Tools & Tech:

Wooden boards
The fabric is spread out on a large wooden boards or table for printing the blue print of the design. These are raised wooden boards and are about 5ft by 3ft in dimension. Bricks or wooden blocks are used to uniformly raise this platform by 9 inches.

Wooden blocks (1)
The patterns are printed on fabric using wooden blocks and nowadays, perforated polythene sheets are also being used. Patterns made with tiny holes on these sheets get transferred onto the fabric when dabbed with dye.

Thread
Thread or ‘Dori’ is generally used to mark straight lines, borders and ‘Pallavs’ by dipping the thread in ‘Geru’, an earthy red color or ‘Robin blue’ (Neel) and then placed on the fabric.

Nakh
An artificial nail made of plastic or metal called ‘Nakh’ is worn on the ring finger while tying the knots.

Bhungri
A small, thin funnel-like pipe is used to provide a better grip while tying the knots on the fabric and is generally made of plastic.

Needles
Needles are used to make stitch resist patterns like the ‘Kodi’.

Vessels (3)
For each and every process like measuring, paste-mixing and fabric dying; a different type of vessel is used. These vessels come in various shapes, sizes and are made of copper, steel, and plastic.

Stirring sticks (5)
Circular wooden sticks are used for turning the fabric in the dye bath to achieve an even dyeing.

Gloves (6)
A precautionary measure, worn to protect the hands from catching stains during dyeing process.

Stove (7)
It is used for heating large amounts of water for the dyeing process.

Rubber-Elastic
Thick strips of rubber cut from tyre tubes are used to fasten the polythene sheets to prevent the dye penetration in the resisted area.

Roll press
This is used to press and finish the tie-dyed fabrics. A domestic iron is also sometimes used.


Rituals:

The silk sarees and odhanis ornamented with bandhani peacocks, flowers, dancers or a Rasamandala design are used as dresses for festivals. Gharcholu, a cotton house dress is the most crucial type of Bandhani of Gujarat, it is a major constituent to traditional wedding attire for Gujarati hindu brides, the custom is now also adopted by Jain ladies. 

The Gharcholu is given as a present to girl by her fiancé during their wedding. The bride drapes it over her head and throughout the ceremony she is covered by it. The bride also wears a white silk panetar wedding saree with a red border. As the couple starts walking around the sacred fire, the Gharcholu is tied to the groom’s shoulder cloth, symbolically linking them for life.

The Gharcholu fabric is always dyed in auspicious red color associated with wedding and martial happiness. It has bandhani dots in white and yellow along with localized dye painted green in some areas. The fabric is also called as Kasumbo (Kasum meaning red). The motifs usually contain elephants, peacocks, grometrical forms, dancing ladies or ladies playing musical instruments.

Gajji silk sarees and odhanis having motifs of elephants, dancers, lotus flowers and leafy patterns are usually worn in ceremonies and hold a ceremonial importance.

A silk Bandhani pichwai is made as a hanging for Krishna temple.


process:

The technique of ‘Bandhani’ or ‘tie and dye’ is one of the oldest form of creating patterns on a piece of cloth. The apparently simple looking process actually requires a high level of mastery as well as time to tie these enumerable tiny knots at well-meditated distances and then dye the fabric. More complex designs require the steps to be repeated several times. It needs much care and forethought in ‘Resist-Dyeing’ the fabric not just in several colors but also for single time dyeing. The craftsmen engaged in the process are known as ‘Bandhej’. These complete patterns are only revealed once the knots are unraveled, which in most cases is preferred to be done by the end customer. This instant element of surprise leaves everyone awestruck.

Cutting
The fabric in its unbleached grey form is procured directly from the mill. It is examined thoroughly before putting it through the process and cut according to end product specifications. These pieces are then treated with a solution of ‘Neel’ and water. ‘Neel’ is a fabric whitener and is used to bleach the fabric white.

Marking the designs
Firstly, the fabric is folded in half lengthwise and then folded again breadthwise forming four layers. The top layer is printed according to the layout and this pattern is created using blocks, perforated sheets or stencils, dabbing ‘Geru’ or ‘Robin blue’ dyes on it.

Perforated plastic sheets
Patterns are drawn over polythene sheets with a ballpoint pen. With the help of a sewing machine, tiny holes are made along the lines of the pattern. These sheets are placed on the top layer of the fabric kept on the wooden table. A brush or piece of cloth dipped in a solution of ‘Geru’ and water is smudged over the sheet, thereby imprinting the pattern on the fabric through holes. In this manner, the field of the sari is printed. The border and ‘Pallav’ are marked using a string dipped in ‘Geru’.

Tying process
The tying process is called ‘Bhindhi Bandhavu’ and is mostly done by Khatri women. With the pattern marked on the topmost layer, dots are tied simultaneously pinching all four layers together. The process requires all fingers to be used in a certain manner and in a certain order.

– The ‘Nakh’ or nail of the ring finger on the left hand is used to raise a tiny portion of fabric for tying.

-This tiny portion is held for a short while between the forefinger and thumb of the right hand.

– The thumb or forefinger of the left hand is then used to hold the raised area. This is called ‘Chapti’

– Then the forefinger and thumb of the right hand are used to tie the raised area of the fabric with a thread. A small pipe called ‘Bhungri’ through which the thread is passed is used for a better grip and to ensure a firm tie. This entire process is called ‘Adheeko’.

Washing of printed fabric
After the fabric is tied, it is presoaked in water before the dyeing process begins, so that the ‘Geru’ or ‘Robin blue’ marks are completely washed away.

For yellow dots (any light colored) on a white fabric, the fabric is first dyed yellow completely. Then it is treated with Sodium Hydrosulphite also known as ‘Hydros’ after tying knots on it; this will bleach off the yellow color from the rest of the fabric. The fabric becomes white except the resisted areas when boiled for a few minutes in ‘Hydros’ and water. A reverse process (dye in dark color first, tie knots over it and then boil in Hydos solution and then dye again in the color you want in the background) is adopted for dark colored dots on a light background.

Dyeing of tied fabric
Dyeing is generally done from the lightest to the darkest shades of color. The original tied cloth is first soaked in cold water for better absorption. It is then dipped in the required dye bath for about 10 to 15minutes.The dye bath with the fabric are stirred well for even color absorption. It is later taken out and rinsed in cold water to remove excess dye. The fabric is then wrapped in a piece of cotton cloth to secure the knots and excess water is squeezed out.

Dyeing of border and pallav
This process is called the ‘Sevo Bandhavo’ where the entire sari is pleated and wrapped in polythene sheet, then fastened with a rubber strip leaving only the ‘Border’ portion. This portion is then dipped in the desired color dye and the same is done for the ‘Pallav’ (the end that falls loosely on the back).

Washing of tied fabric
After dyeing, the fabric is thoroughly washed in clear water and rinsed to remove any excess dye.

Drying and untying
‘Sukhenu’ is a drying process where the tie-dyed fabric is allowed to dry in natural sunlight. The knots are kept intact till the Bandhini piece is sold to the customer. This is done to acknowledge the authenticity of a handcrafted Bandhini. The fabric is pulled diagonally by two people in order to open up the tied areas showing different colored patterns. This process is called ‘Chode Vajo’ and brings a sure shot expression of delight on the viewer’s face.


Cluster Name: Bhuj

Introduction:


district Bhuj
state Gujarat
population 2.14 lakhs
langs Hindi, Gujarati, Kutchi, English
best-time Aug to March
stay-at Many guest house and good hotels are available
reach Almost all the large cities of India are connected to Bhuj by rail networks. Flights connect Bhuj with Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
local Auto, Taxi
food Gujarati thali, Dabeli

History:

Bhuj is mentioned in writings of two millennia ago; the writer Strabo (66 BC-24 AD) writes of Tejarashtra, whose principal city Tej is the modern-day Bhuj in all likelihood. From the 8th to 16th centuries, Kutch was ruled by the Samma Rajputs from Sindh, during what is considered to be Sindh's Golden Age. As the power center in Sindh declined, there was a series of complicated successions and intra-familial murders, leading eventually to the installment of Lakho Jadeja, descended from the Samma Rajputs, as king. From then on the monarchy was known as the Jadeja Rajputs, who ruled directly from Kutch, not from Sindh. In 1549 Khengarji-I moved the capital from Anjar to Bhuj, given its strategic location in the center of Kutch. The name of the city was derived from Bhujiyo Dungar, the 160m hill that overlooks the city and is said to be the residence of the Great Serpent Bhujang, to whom a temple stands at the top of the hill. In the late 16th century, the area came under Mughal dominance, though the Rajput kings still held local administrative powers. King Bharmal-I gained favor with the Mughal Emperor by sending many extravagant gifts, and when the Kutchi rulers granted free passage and hospitality to pilgrims bound for Mecca, the Mughals exempted them from paying tribute to the Emperor and even allowed them to mint a local currency, the kori (displayed at the Kutch Museum). At the beginning of the 18th century, Rao Godiji saw the need for Kutch to protect itself in the more volatile vacuum left behind by the decline of the Mughal Empire. He commissioned the building of immense fortifications for Bhuj, including 11m walls and 51 guns around the edge of the city. In 1741, Lakhpatji-I ascended the throne. An extravagant monarch, he commissioned the world-famous Aina Mahal palace built by master artisan Ramsinh Malam, who trained in Holland and brought back European style and techniques for his designs. Lakhpatji was also a poet. His legacy of encouraging cultural development is still felt today and having led the kingdom to flourish, he was well loved. His successor, Raydhan-II, however was a brutal, iron-fisted ruler. He converted to Islam and tried to forcibly convert his subjects. His rule wreaked havoc for a long time until I t declined and communal harmony. In 1815, the British arrived and seized Bhujiyo Dungar hill. The state became a British protectorate, as the king acknowledged British sovereignty in exchange for local autonomy. Like the Mughals before them, the British began administrative authority over Kutch, but not direct rule. Building projects abounded in the 19th century, with Pragmalji II on the throne. He had the Prag Mahal palace built, as well as the Ranjit Vilas palace, the Vijay Vilas palace in Mandvi, and many hospitals, schools, irrigation projects and roads. Later considered a princely state, Kutch would continue thus until joining with a newly independent India. Upon independence, Kutch became a state in India, while neighboring Sindh joined Pakistan. This cost Kutch the nearby major port of Karachi, leading to the development of Kandla as an important port for the region.  

Geography:

Bhuj has an average elevation of 110 meters (360 feet) above sea level. Located on the eastern side of the town, there is a hill named ‘Bhujiyo Dungar’. ‘Bhuj Fort’ was built on top of the hill to separate Bhuj city from Madhapar town. The city also has a big lake named ‘Hamirsar’ along with several other small lakes, often found flooded with flocks of migratory flamingoes. By Rail Almost all the large cities of India are connected to Bhuj by rail networks. ‘Palanpur’ or ‘Gandhidham’ railway stations connect Bhuj to all parts of Gujarat. Direct trains ply between Bhuj and Ahmedabad on the meter gauge line, whilst Mumbai is connected to Gandhidham through broad gauge line. By Road National highway No.8A connects Bhuj to Ahmedabad. There are regular buses that connect Bhuj to the neighboring cities. Sate Transport buses and private buses that operate between all major towns and cities of Gujarat make reaching Bhuj easier. The roads are made for all-weather conditions and are good for driving. State Transport buses connect to destinations around the district and private jeeps are available for hire. Some smaller places can only be reached by ‘Chhakdas’ a type of auto-rickshaw. By Air Flights connect Bhuj with Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Jet Airways and Indian Airlines operate daily flights between Mumbai and Bhuj.

Environment:



Infrastructure:

Bhuj is the administrative headquarters of Kutch and is at the geographical center of the district. Other main towns are Gandhidham, Rapar, Nakhatrana, Anjar, Mandvi, Madhapar and Mundra. Kandla and Mundra are the two major ports. Infrastructure has been re-built since the 2001 earthquake caused major destruction the area. The city has basic facilities like uninterrupted power supple, water, major banks and ATMs, educational institutions and movie halls. Tax relief provided by the government helped in rebuilding the facilities. Several steps were taken by government to uplift economic and infrastructural condition of the city. Under new schemes, several industries were set-up in the region such as sale, steel, timber and power plants. Tourism has boosted the development of roads and modes of transport. Kutch has large mineral reserves and the ‘Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC)’ operates two of its mines in ‘Panandhro’ and ‘Mata-No-Madh’. The other major industries are salt, steel, clocks, timber and power plants. The water is supplied by three major sources - the ‘Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board’, the ‘Sardar Sarovar dam’ and other irrigation canals. Bhuj airport is an important passenger airport in India and provides flight connectivity to many destinations. The airport was previously made up of two bunkers near the ‘Bhuj Rudra Mata Air Force Base’, with which it shares the runway. On one side of the airport road there was an Indian Airlines bunker and on the other side a Jet Airways bunker. From there an airport coach would shuttle across the Indian Air Force grounds to reach the small departure terminals. Over the last few years, a suitable airport terminal has been built, with parking facilities and a drop-off/collect point. Its opening ceremony took place on the 3rd of September 2003, in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. The airport apron can accommodate a maximum of two aircrafts at one time. The Airport has recently been named ‘Shyamji Krishna Verma Bhuj’ Airport.

Architecture:

The city of Bhuj was an ancient walled city and it still has major parts of original fortification and other historical buildings in its city core. As is the case with all the ancient cities of India, the oldest parts are most densely populated with new constructions amid old ones. The city is lined with old buildings; even the new constructions have some of the elements from old houses such as pillars, wooden door and windows. Urban homes and commercial buildings with traditional construction and vernacular architecture can be seen throughout the city. As one moves towards the newer sections of the city, multi storey apartment buildings and flat roof residences come into sight. In 2001, Bhuj was devastated by an earthquake with magnitude 7.7 on richer scale. It had a vast impact on architectural heritage of Bhuj. The form of masonry bearing wall construction prevalent in Kutch proved to be quite vulnerable to the earth-quake. The buildings were a testimony to the long history of the region; all the magnificent structures including city walls, forts, temples, palaces and villas were severely affected. The city comes under the region of high local seismic risk. The region had faced many earth quakes in the past, with a major one in 1819.

Culture:

The ‘Kutchi’ language is spoken predominantly other than ‘Gujarati’ and ‘Hindi’. Majority of the population is vegetarian as they follow Jainism and Hinduism. Milk is considered to be sacred and when offered to a guest, is considered to be a gesture of friendship and sign of welcome. Settlement of disputes is followed by offering milk to each other as sign of peace. In the Kutchi engagement ceremony, the bride's family offers milk to the groom's relatives as a symbol of accepting their relationship. Tea without milk is offered to visitors when they attend a mourning ceremony. The Kutchi culture brims with influences of the desert, sea, farming and cattle rearing. The culture is a rich blend of various influences that have evolved over many centuries of migration from neighboring regions of ‘Marwar’ (Western Rajasthan), Sindh, Afghanistan and further. Even today, one can find various nomadic, semi nomadic and artisan groups living in Kutch. Religion is deeply embedded in their culture and customs. ‘Navratri’ is celebrated with much fervor and many religious fairs like ‘Jakkha’, ‘Ravadi’ on ‘Janmastami’, ‘Bhujya’ on ‘Nagpanchami’ and ‘Haji-Pir’s’ fair are celebrated by the Muslims. The ‘Dhangadra’ fair attracts many visitors with its camel safaris.

People:

Hinduism, Jainism and Islam are the major religions followed by the people of Kutch. Their attires vary according to the different communities and tribes they hail from. Women mostly wear beautifully embroidered ‘Cholis’ and skirts. ‘Rabari’ women wear 'Comdi' and ‘Charan’ women wear 'Dhibdo', a type of ladies blouse which is completely backless. Muslim women wear artistic anklets called 'Ghunla'. ‘Ahir’ women's main jewel is 'Akota' which they wear in their nose which is supported by a lock of hair as it is heavy. Men also wear 'Kadku' in their ears. Most men in Kutch wear ‘Dhoti’ (a loose unstitched trouser worn by draping in a very special style) with a ‘kurta’ or ‘Kedio’. A large Ajrakh or silk (replaced by polyester these days) scarf, which comes handy for a lot of things like covering head in hot sun, tying folded legs with the back to support a comfortable sitting posture. Normally men prefer white clothes except the Muslims who prefer colored clothes like ‘Pathani’ suits. In olden times they used to wear a cap called ‘Paagh’ which was considered to be very dignified. Tattoos are a striking feature of the ‘Kutchis’. ‘Kutchi’ women of ‘Banni’, ‘Harijan’, ‘Aahir’, ‘Rabari’ and ‘Bhunashli’ casts have elaborate tattoos done on their bodies. A few of the many Kutchi tribes are as follows: Mochis – Traditionally, the ‘Mochis’ are a shoemaker community and are the main craftsmen of the ‘Aari’ embroidery. It is believed that they learnt their craft from the Muslim craftsmen who in turn had learnt it from the craftsmen of Mughal era. Aahirs - They are pastoral tribes of cowherds, milkmen and cattle breeders mostly settled in the ‘Kotai’ and ‘Lodai’ areas. They consider themselves to be the descendants of Lord Krishna and are believed to have lived as shepherds in the ‘Gokul’ region of Mathura about a thousand years ago. Later they spread throughout the northern and northwestern regions of India. There are four types of ‘Ahir Tribals’ namely ‘Prantharia’, ‘Machhoya’, ‘Boureecha’, & ‘Sorathia’. The ‘Ahir’ are believed to have been one of the first immigrant tribes from central Asia that entered India during the early Christian era. For many centuries the ‘Ahirs’ have been a purely occupational caste, mainly recruited from the indigenous tribes. Rabari – The ‘Rabari’ clan migrated to Kutch regions from Afghanistan via Baluchistan. But some people are of the belief that they came from the Sindh province, presently in Pakistan. ‘Rabaris’, primarily a shepherd community are known for their expertise in camel breeding and cattle herding. Mostly belonging to the Hindu faith, a Rabari man dresses in their traditional white attire along with the characteristic white turban on his head. The entire dress comprises of a handkerchief made of ‘Kathi Ajrakh’, a full white ‘Abho’, ‘Chorni’ like ‘Charsa’, with the Ajrakh handkerchief placed on the shoulders, wearing golden ear-rings and holding a big stick in one hand. The Rabari women normally wear backless blouses, black ‘Lehengas’ and ‘Odhanis’ draping their heads. Their reason for choosing complete black attire is that they are still mourning the death of Lord Krishna. Jats - The ‘Jats’ of Kutch are a nomadic Muslim community who are cattle breeders by profession. They are one of a number of communities of the ‘Maldhari’ pastoral nomads found in the ‘Banni Grasslands Reserve’ region of Kutch.They worship a holy saint named ‘Savlo Pir’. The men rear livestock whilst the women stay in camps caring for the families. Lohanas - The ‘Lohanas’ consider themselves to be the descendants of ‘Luva’ (Son of Lord Rama). Largely an Indian merchant community, ‘Lohanas’ originated from the Sindh and Punjab province, before migrating to Kutch and Gujarat. Kanbi - The ‘Kanbis’ of Kutch are immigrants from the ‘Saurashtra’ region and their main occupation is agriculture. ‘Kanbis’ of Gujarat follow a non-vegetarian diet and drink homemade alcoholic liquors like ‘Mahua’. Oswal Banias - Although most Oswals follow ‘Jainism’, some are more influenced by ‘Hinduism’. Most of them belong to the ‘Svetambara Jain’ sect, but a few of them are ‘Digambaras’, and while others follow ‘Hindu Vaishnavism’.

Famous For:

The Aina-Mahal- ‘Aina Mahal’ or the ‘Palace of Mirrors’ is a beautiful structure built in the 18th century during the reign of ‘Lakhpatji’. ‘Ramsinh Malam’, a master craftsman who had previously trained as an artisan for 17 years in Europe, felt unappreciated by the lesser rulers of the area. He visited the royal courts of Bhuj and there he met the king. He appealed to the king to ask him to provide him with suitable work. The king commissioned him to work on the ‘Aina Mahal’ and the palace was later built with an interesting blend of European, Dutch and Indian styles. The Kutch Museum- This museum was built in 1877 AD and was initially named ‘The Fergusson Museum’. The museum is built with Italian architecture and houses a wide collection of ‘Kshatrapa’ inscriptions, archaeological objects, collections of Mughal arms and ammunitions and other ancient objects. Flamingo Colony- Khavda located 66 kms away from bhuj is a famous nature park. From here one can visit the world's largest flamingo colony at a lake in the desert, where about half million migrating flamingos stop over each year. This stunning attraction draws bird enthusiasts and avid photographers from all over the world who flock to witness this amazing sight. The flamingo colony can only be reached by camel and is best visited in the winter months from October to March. Bhuj Handicrafts- Bhuj is a base for artisans families and their handicrafts are renowned the world over. From elaborately embroidered clothing, luxurious quilts to block-printing, Bandhani (tie and dye), heavy silver jewelry and woodcarving, Bhuj is an important center of Indian handicrafts.

Craftsmen

List of craftsmen.

Documentation by:

Team Gaatha

Process Reference:

Interview: Jabbar khatri, Bhuj (07/05/2013)
Interview: Sajid khatri, Bhuj (08/05/2013)
Interview: Abdul Razak khatri, Bhuj (08/05/2013)
BANDHINI OF SAURASHTRA AND KACHCHH – 1995-96 Craft doc. NID – Himabindu.K, Janaki Jayanty, Rashna Manchanda
http://www.touristlink.com/india/bhuj-airport/overview.html
http://www.gujarattourism.com/

Cluster Reference:

http://www.gujarattourism.com/showpage.aspx?contentid=26 http://www.craftofgujarat.com/showpage.aspx?contentid=1093 http://www.touristlink.com/india/bhuj-airport/overview.html

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