A display of superior craft skill, the silver jewelry of Kutch is more than just ornamentation. They serve as markers used to differentiate various tribes of the region. Their simplified forms and elaborate textures employ techniques of high precision. Each piece of jewelry has a definitive purpose and is worn as per the age, handed down by the ancestors as heirloom wealth.

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      Introduction:

      Usage:

      Bhuj’s silver work includes lifestyle products like dining sets, tea pots, cups, cutlery, bowls to ‘Jhulas’ (in-door swing set), candle stands, ‘Jhumars’ (chandeliers) and furniture apart from the traditional jewelry made for the numerous local tribal communities. The jewelry made is used differently by different tribes. These are worn by men and women in the form of ‘Kadas’ (broad and thin bracelets and anklets), ‘Payals’ (anklets for women), necklaces, nose rings, earrings, finger rings etc. The metal is also used in making utility items like toothpicks and ear cleaners that dangle around the neck in the form of lockets.


      Significance:

      Silver jewelry has an important place in the culture and traditions of ‘Kutchi’ tribes, where every tribe wears differently designed jewelry and their unique designs help in differentiating them from the other tribes.

      The total weight of the jewelry that is worn by a single tribe woman amounts to one to two kilos, making it unusual and often difficult to wear in the harsh climates of Kutch. Nevertheless, the functionalities of the jewelry are many. Being mostly of nomadic origins, people here have always had very minimal shelters like carts covered with thatch or mud ‘Bhungas’ (huts), which guaranteed little or no security. So, they used silver jewelry as a kind of investment, generally worn in the purest form and kept under vigilance by wearing them over themselves all the time. These were sold only in dire circumstances or in the event of a natural calamity.

      Amongst some other unique uses, protection against wild animals and eve teasers can be evidently seen in their jewelry. Women wear traditionally designed broad bracelets ‘Kada’ with sharp conical protrusions on their surface when they enter forests for cattle rearing and collecting firewood. Silver jewelry is a means for enhancing the beauty of Kutchi women by shining in contrast against their dark skin but their positioning on the body and their weight has a deeper science behind it. These are often placed on strategic pressure points on the body for health benefits. ‘Thoriyas’ are studs for the cartilaginous cavity of the ear and are said to provide acupressure for enhancing reproductive health.

      In India, the left side of the nose is generally regarded as the ideal position for nose rings. According to Ayurveda, the spot made by piercing of the nose is associated with the female reproductive organs. It is generally believed that women who have their nose pierced on the left side experience less pain while delivering the child and they also have less menstrual pain. It is a common belief that wearing nose rings makes the process of childbirth easier. Nose rings are also a symbol of marriage in India.

      Silver jewelry leaves green stains on the skin under the place of contact; this is due to silver getting absorbed in the body. It usually happens in warm days. Silver is highly important element for balancing other elements in our body. It keeps our blood vessels elastic. It is really important for bone formation and healing, skin formation and repair. Silver jewelry has a strong effect on people suffering from arthritis. Silver (especially magnetic jewelry) is known to increase blood circulation and reduce pain in muscles.

      Bangle ~ Constant friction of bangles improves the blood circulation and gives the needed friction to the pulse points in our hands. The electric charge passing through outer skin is returned back to body because of bangles, which has no end to pass the energy outside but to send it back to the body. This way a woman regains her strength, which is presumably wasted otherwise.

      Ring ~ It is commonly believed that nerve passing through ring finger is evenly spread across brain neuron cells and any frequent metallic friction caused in this finger is very good for one’s health. It is said to improve one’s general capacity in handling life situations with ease and confidence.

      Toe rings ~ The nerve in the second biggest finger of our toe connects to the uterus and passes through heart. Because of this, the constant friction caused while walking and doing all sorts of chores during a day revitalizes the reproductive organs. 
      Silver being a good conductor also absorbs polar energy from the earth and passes it to the body, thus refreshing the whole body system.


      Myths & Legends:


      History:

      The oldest origins of Asian Jewelry can be traced back to the Neolithic-age, Mehrgarh culture (7000-5500 BC) and Cemetery H Age. The period precedes the Iron Age, when major developments in metal-casting and metal working happened. It is believed that in late Harappa period craftsmen had started working with bronze, copper silver and also gold making head bands, bangles, necklaces and other jewelry items from metal casting and using other embellishments such as glazed faience, terracotta and shells. The mostly used patterns and forms comprised of anthropomorphic symbols including animals, trees and reproductive organs, owing to the prevalent Pagan faith and matriarchal spiritual beliefs. In those times, jewelry was mostly meant for women and the sets were passed on to new generations instead of being buried with the deceased.

      During the period of ‘Maha Jandapadas’ (Great kingdoms between 700-200 BC), Indian subcontinent with its growing opulence, revived jewelry designs and the region became a center for global trade. Trade between ancient Greeks and India was well established by 130 BC, the Indian spices and Indian gem stones were traded off for gold and other Mediterranean commodities such as copper, silver, olive oil and wine. Soon Romans too expanded their trade and the trade volume grew with Tamil Chola, Panyan and Chera dynasties. In exchange for spices, live peacocks, gemstones, Indians used to get lots of gold. Contrary to other parts of the world where gold was used as currency, Indians were using it for ornamental purposes, to make jewelry. Pliny the elder once criticized this trade saying “we must be made for bankrupting ourselves for India”. India’s obsession for gold and silver was because of the tradition of Solah Shringar ‘The sixteen adornments’. In ancient Hindu wedding customs of Medieval India, the bridal set included 16 adornments made from precious metals and gemstones.

      The sixteen adornments included ‘Borla’, a conical hair ornament worn near back, the head attached to hair. ‘Tika’ or ‘Mang tikka’, are single pendants attached to Borla, these dangle from the hair partition. ‘Gaajra’, which is a hair decoration of flowers and pearls. Earrings hung from ‘Karn phool’ or ear flowers, which is ear lobe piercing.  Other jewelry includes, ‘Sarpech’ or feather pin, ‘Arsi’ or Archer’s ring, a ‘Hansali’, which is a collar type choker. A black beaded necklace called ‘Mangal Sutra’, which is a symbol for marriage and worn by the women for her man’s wellbeing. The face is adorned with ‘Bindi’; a single dot wore on foreheads. Nose ring called ‘Nath’, black eye shadow called ‘Kaajal’. ‘Pajeb’ or Anklets, Armlets, Bangles, Bracelets, Earrings, Nose rings and toe rings complete the total set of mandatory adornments.
      In 1518 AD, an India officer and traveler of Portuguese origin named ‘Duarte Barbosa’ mentioned the attire of the people in the kingdom of ‘Guzerate’. It was written that they were clad in long cotton and silk shirts and wore metal jewelry with precious stones embedded. The women were described to have holes in their ears wide enough for an egg to pass through, caused by wearing heavy gold and silver earrings.
      The Kutch region was a strong center of trade with Arabian, Persian and European countries. This factor caused various influences on the designs of the jewelry such that it resulted in some thirty-five different kinds of the earrings alone for the men, women and children of various communities (like ‘Rabari’, ‘Ahir’, ‘Bharvad’, ‘Jat’, and ‘Satvaras’). This plethora of variety is only prevalent in Gujarat and is comparable only to the jewelry in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.
      A study of sculptural ornaments shows the flourishing conditions of the time and the common usage of ornaments. The Gupta period saw a lot of development in the craft using metal and precious stones. Heavy and elaborate ornaments increased in demand during the rule of the ‘Chalukyas’. The ‘Mughals’ are said to have taken the craft of ornamentation to great refinement and believed that the glory of a prince is made tangible by his buildings, his library and his jewels.
      Silver and Gold were made into lavish lifestyle articles like candle stands, furniture, chandeliers and tableware. The ‘Sarafa Bazaar’ in Bhuj is a famous silver market existing for almost 200 to 250 years (from the Mughal period). Islamabad and Karachi were also good markets for the Silversmiths of Kutch. Trades faded with the increasing tensions between the borders, leaving only 10-12 families in the city still making traditional jewelry and some smaller lifestyle products. The rest have switched to selling lighter articles, which have a contemporary outlook from the sales point of view. For eg. ‘Payals’, thin anklets worn by girls are a product evolved from traditional ‘Pajeb’ (heavy anklets) to suit modern requirements.


      Design:

      Territorial and cultural markings are still quite common among various tribes and communities as a way of marking their identity. This can be seen in the use of ornaments unique to each tribe that have not changed over the years. Silver is mostly preferred in its original color but in some cases ‘Meena’ (colored glass) work is done to impart vibrance. 

      The following are a few examples of the communities and their characteristic ornaments:


      Rabari 
      Nagali: The womenfolk wear distinctive heavy brass earrings called Nagali, which hang low, stretching the earlobes. These earrings are made from thin brass wires coiled around many times to create a sort of scale with conical shapes and rings at the base. They are gifted by the groom and are a symbol of marriage.

      Bungri or Phul: Worn in the helix of ear by ‘Rabari’ and ‘Bharvad’ men and boys, it sits on top of the ear like an umbrella and is a prime mark for the identity of tribal men of this region.

      Dhabo: Another flat circular earring with a name which means a ‘lid’. It is made with brass or gilded silver and worn by the boys of the tribal communities. It can be worn up till the age of thirty.

      Tungal: A metal wire earring, which is in a loop that goes through the ear. This loop is adorned with tiny beads which are coloured or filigreed. The ‘Bhopa’ and ‘Vaghadia’ Rabari women wear it in the middle part of the outer rim of the ear.

      Buttis: Studs with circular front plates that are commonly shaped like baroque blossoms. These are favored by the women who are above thirty and they also call it the ‘Chapva’.

      Tavit: Earrings that comprise of a woolen sling fastened using a button and are worn in the lobe. It is made of a thin molded gold sheet. Solid copper rings and gold lozenges decorate the woolen sling.

      Shibora Kada: Worn by Rabari women, this thick tubular bracelet is made by turning sliver sheet into five faced tubes (hollow from inside). This tube is then curved in the form of a bangle and at the two open ends decorated with textured animal faces.

      Dat Khotadi: A set of handmade toothpick and ear-picking tool in silver, tied together in a silver loop. It is awe inspiring to see how tools of daily personal utility are made and worn with so much thought and beauty by these tribal communities. To keep them within reach, the men wear them around their necks like pendants. Made by flattening and texturing thick silver rods and tapering them in a loop at one end, while the other end is tapered into a point for the toothpick and made into a small ladle for the ear pick. Three circular disks stuck on top in a row is a characteristic feature.


      Harijan
      The necklaces worn by the ‘Harijans’ are heavy silver chokers made by coiling thick silver wires like the ‘Nagali’ (spring earrings) and are a sign of marriage.

      Toti:  A type of earring that consists of a slightly convex gold sheet for front plates and is molded and backed by a wax core. A green glass stone is placed in the center, which is surrounded by little red glass beads. The back is covered by a silver plate with a plug and a screw.

      Thoriyas: Worn through the concha of the ear by a sharp permanently bent wire or a loop-peg, they have very fine granulated decorations and are sometimes embellished with red or green enamel, red glass stones and gold/silver plating. This ornament is commonly seen as a part of all the communities in Kutch.

      Kadli: Hollow tubular bracelets concealed by a flat silver plate on the inner side. Made with a unique hinge locking mechanism that enables perfect fitting. The semi cylindrical surface is etched and embossed with traditional flower motifs in perfect geometry.


      Ahir
      Akota: Are flat circular disks, worn on the ear lobe. They are fastened with the help of a horizontal part, which balances their weight and prevents slipping.

      Kareli: A special kind of earring gifted at the time of birth but worn from the age of five to seven only. It is a latticed sphere attached with a round hook on top, which goes through the ear lobe.

      Vedhla: Earrings which are made of metal sheets joined to form cubes or multi-faced 3D shapes and are kept hollow inside to keep them lightweight. The ‘Ahirs’ wear ‘Vedhlas’ ending in pyramidal shapes. Cubical ‘Vedhlas’ are 140mm in length and are worn from the age of six onwards only on festive occasions.

      Tungal: A metal wire earring, which is in a loop that goes through the ear. This loop is adorned with tiny beads, which are colored or filigreed. These are worn by the ‘Ahirs’ in the lobe or upper ear.

      Dat Khotadi: A set of handmade toothpick and ear-picking tool in silver, tied together in a silver loop. It is awe inspiring to see how tools of daily personal utility are made and worn with so much thought and beauty by these tribal communities. To keep them within reach, the men wear them around their necks like pendants. Made by flattening and texturing thick silver rods and tapering them in a loop at one end, while the other end is tapered into a point for the toothpick and made into a small ladle for the ear pick. Three circular disks stuck on top in a row is a characteristic feature.

      Haidi: An elaborate neckpiece worn by the women of ‘Jat’ and ‘Ahir’ communities, it is an assortment of a number of 3D and 2D forms put together in a pair of slings (snake chains) and embellished with lots of ‘Ghungroos’, that not only make it look good but sound delicious too. It is characterized by a big pendant (inspired by Islamic motifs) with ‘Meena'(colored glass) work and embossed textures (granular).


      Jat
      Allulakh: An ear ornament worn by the ‘Jats’, which is a latticed capsule with a stiff connection to the tops. The design is said to be a Sindhi influence and similar pieces were discovered from South Persia too.

      Dhan: A kind of headband which serves as a support for the heavy weight of the earring. It is sometimes accompanied with a finely crafted silver hook for the hair.

      Haidi: An elaborate neckpiece worn by the women of ‘Jat’ and ‘Ahir’ communities, it is an assortment of a number of 3D (capsules) and 2D forms put together in a pair of slings (snake chains) and embellished with lots of ‘Ghungroos’, that not only make it look good but sound delicious too. It is characterized by a big pendant (inspired by Islamic motifs) with ‘Meena'(colored glass) work and embossed textures (granular).


      Charan
      Loriya: A dangler on a circular fastening worn on the ear by married ‘Charan’ women. They are combined with three ‘Saralia’ in a helix.

      Mumna or Vari: A set of earrings worn by young girls in the helix of their ear before marriage. They are decorated loops with a chiseled dangler attached stiffly to the middle.

      Kadli: Hollow tubular bracelets concealed by a flat silver plate on the inner side. Made with a unique hinge locking mechanism that enables perfect fitting. The semi cylindrical surface is etched and embossed with traditional flower motifs in perfect geometry.


      Bharvad
      Kankari: An ear ornament that is a hollow loop fastened across ears with the help of a long screw. Women wear it in the lobe and the men wear it through the hole of the ‘Bhungri’ in their helix.

      Kokarvan: Flat filigreed circular ornaments worn through the concha of the ear. These are believed to ensure good health.

      Machkanian: Worn on the tragus of the ear and are given to a girl as a wedding gift by the in-laws.

      Bharvad Nagali: Unlike the ‘Rabari Nagali’, it is rather plain and has a very raw appeal to it. It is a simple upturned cone formed by looped wires and attached to the lobe with a loop.

      Chandan Haar: Worn by Bharvad men in weddings, it’s a piece of jewelry made differently from most of the ‘Kutchi’ jewelry. Seven (two heart shaped, two hexagons, two rectangular and one pentagonal) flat plate pieces, decorated with floral designs made with cut work, studded with semi precious/ precious stones and textured by etching and embossing techniques are linked together in the form of a necklace through silver chains. These silver chains are also special in the design of their units and the linkages. A bigger heart shaped piece with three little closed bells (Ghunghroos) dangle at the bottom of the pentagonal central piece, completing the elaborate set up.


      Mutwa Muslim
      Pupat: A characteristic earring of this community and is formed by a hook which is as long as the entire ornament itself. This hook is decorated with shapes, stones and enameling.

      Sonethekawara: A partly gilded ‘Vedhla’ (a loop ending in a stiffly attached dangler). The ones with small discs in the front are called ‘Ektak bonda'(one disc) and ‘Betak Bonda’ (two discs).
      Siri: A simple, punch-dye formed convex plate worn on the earlobe. They wear them combined with two or three ‘Chelakeri’ (Chela – pendant, Keri – hook) in the helix of the ear.


      Challenges:

      The increase in cost of silver has raised the price of the jewelry craft causing many buyers to leave and purchase much cheaper imitation jewelry. Also the detailed designs in the jewelry require a lot of time and effort causing slow production, which leads to poor sales. This has caused a lot of the younger generation of the craftsmen families to take up better paying jobs. Tribal families who are facing destitute conditions because of faulty economic policies are selling off their traditional wealth for meager money. These heirloom pieces are mostly melted and molded into newer designs, often machine made and of very little craftsmanship value.


      Introduction Process:

      The silver jewelry of Kutch is famous for its intricate designs and craftsmanship, achieved through combining numerous small units of silver on the main artwork, which adds richness to the piece. Marginal use of colorful beads and touch of enamel on embossed, etched and coiled surfaces often bring thin silver sheets to life.


      Raw Materials:

      Silver metal is mixed with zinc to make it more malleable and ductile, easier to work with for making jewelry. Though most of the tribes who are the main consumers of this craft prefer their jewelry to be made with silver in its purest form, some like a bit of decoration in their ornaments. Materials like enamel, stones, shells, beads, lac, woolen threads, buttons and foil backed glass are sometimes used to embellish the beautiful designs. For soldering various metal pieces, a mixture of ‘Surokahar’, ‘Takandkhar’ and ‘Navsar’ (soldering material) is used.


      Waste:

      There is no wastage as far as this craft is concerned. The leftover pieces or the pieces that go wrong are melted and reused for jewelry making.


      Tools & Tech:

      Workbench- It is the craftsman’s work table.

      Bench vise- it is used to clamp the materials to the bench and prevent slippage while working.

      Blowtorch- This is used to heat the silver wire pieces turning them into micro pellets.

      Coiling machine- Is used to create tightly wound coils and to curve various jewelry pieces.

      Light source- Used to light up the work-space due to the fine nature of the craft.

      Goldsmith’s Weights- The amount of silver to be used is precisely weighed with these weights.

      Ruler- A measuring tool used to draw and measure the designs.

      Ingot- Silver metal is bought in this form before being processed further.

      Tongs- Used in handling the hot silver materials.

      Furnace- Used to heat the silver ingots.

      Chisel- Used in etching, carving and creating relief work on the metal sheets.

      File- It is used to sharpen and create various shapes as well as define edges.

      Wooden mallet- This is used to hammer the metal designs where light pressure is needed.

      Hammer- This is used to hammer the metal designs where heavy pressure is needed.

      Round end punch- This is used to create rounded shapes like the ‘ghungru’ (a small bell).

      Samdni- A type of metal tweezers used to pick and place micro metal pieces in the design.

      Kapdi- A metal cutting tool used to cut wires and sheets.

      Aerund– This is a metal anvil with a hard surface on which another object is struck.

      Pachchla- A metal dye with several sized concave spaces which are used to create various spherical and circular shapes.

      Gudiyala- This is a pestle shaped metal tool used along with the pachchla. Sheets are pushed in the concave spaces of dye with the pestle.


      Rituals:


      process:

      The silver jewelry of Kutch is famous for its intricate designs and craftsmanship, achieved through combining numerous small units of silver on the main artwork, which adds richness to the piece. Marginal use of colorful beads and touch of enamel on embossed, etched and coiled surfaces often bring thin silver sheets to life.

      Silver jewelry of Kutch is crafted using various techniques such as embossing, cutting, spring winding thin and thick wires to get conical shapes, beating patterns on the lacquer filled forms and making concentric wire filigrees with granulation.

      Silver metal is bought in the form of ingots, which is melted and mixed with zinc into workable pieces. This metal is beaten into thin sheets which are cut into shapes with a metal cutter called ‘Kapdi’. These sheets are placed on a well-lit work table, where the craftsman works delicate designs on them using the above mentioned techniques. Small metal sheet pieces are embossed with designs using various shaping tools such as the ‘Pachchla’ and ‘Gudiyala’. For intricate designs requiring small micro pellets, small pieces of wire are torched with a flame as they curve into balls. These micro pieces are dipped in a solution made with ‘Surokahar’, ‘Takandkhar’ and ‘Navsar’. These dipped pieces are then soldered on the design with a blow torch. In this way different details and parts of the design are created and painstakingly attaching them on the work pieces. Most designs are made using only silver but some pieces are studded with colourful materials such as glass beads, shells, lac, stones, enamel, coins etc. to create vibrant designs. Some tribal craftsmen also use organic materials such as cowries, dried grass, seeds, and berries creating unique designs. After the final designs are complete they are polished with emery paper and acid washes, giving it a brilliant shine. For earrings and necklaces, thinly wound coils are made with a coiling machine, while spheres are made using a round ended punch or a ‘Pachchla’.

      The craftsman’s skills are visible in the amount of detailing and finish of the final product. This intricate craft is loved by the tribes of Kutch, who have adopted the jewelry as their identity with different designs unique to each tribe. These are treasured as family heirlooms and handed down the generations.


      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:

      EARRINGS – Ornamental identity and beauty in India by Walter and Ganguly 2007 (Pages 71 to 100)
      INDIAN COSTUMES – A. Biswas 1985(Date-21.11.2011) Interview: Shri Mukeshbhai Pomal, Bhuj
      THE SPLENDOUR OF ETHNIC JEWELLERY – France Borel and photographs by John Bigelow Taylor 1997

      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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