Traditionally, Gota ribbons were woven with a wrap of flattened gold and silver wire and a weft of silk/cotton thread and used as functional and decorative trims for a variety of garments and textiles used by the royalty, members of the court, temple idols and priests, as well as for altar cloths at shrines and prayer offerings. With the subsequent substitution of pure gold and silver with gilt or lurex and the mass production of gota on electrically powered swivel looms at Surat and Ajmer, Gota came to be used by all communities and castes of Rajasthan. Considered to be shagan, a symbol of good omen and good will, gota may be used as kinari, edging, or cut and manipulated into motifs that are sewn onto garments and turbans worn during weddings and festivals such as Eid, Diwali, Dussehra, Sharad Purnima, Holi, Teej and Gangaur. Married women can be especially seen wearing them.
With changing times, gota patti is also done on clothing items like odhni, turban, printed or embroidered Ghaghra, Saree, kurti and even on jootis. A number of designers have also used this embroidery as interplay in various of their designs. Even today, in Rajasthan, Gota Patti is worn on auspicious occasions by women of all households.
In addition to this, gota patti is also prominently used in making jewelry pieces like necklace, earrings, bangles and mang tika. These are especially worn by bride during her pre wedding functions. As, ribbons of gold or silver colours are used in making these, they give a luxurious look and are cheaper compared the gold and silver jewelry. It is also used on decorative panels, cushion covers, clutches, hand fans, puppets and several other items.
Gota is also used as a motif or kinari (edging) that are attached as emblems onto baskets, platter covers, hookahs etc.
Since Gota patti signifies good omen and is used on special occasions, it has also found its place in the packaging of products especially gifts. It can be found on the clothes or the boxes used to cover the packets of sweetmeats and nuts.
The work is carried out by artisans as household activity or within groups in guidance of senior craft mans. Generally, a piece rate system is used which depends on design patterns, time required in each applique garments. The learning of skill is survived with families.
For the royalty, along with gota patti, the bluish-green metallic colored wings of a particular variety of beetle known as Jewel Beetle, were used as ornamentation among the gold and silver of the embroidery. These can be seen on the ‘Jama’, an authentic 19th century Indian coat, adorned with beautiful Gota Patti and jewel beetle elytron sequins. (exhibited in the V&A Museum, London).
On religious, social occasions and festivals it is a custom among the people of Rajasthan to get decked up in their beautiful clothes with Gota Patti work, as it is auspicious and indispensable during ceremonial occasions. They also symbolize good omen and good-will. Sometimes lehengas and sarees having the Gota Patti embroidery are also used as a part of the wedding trousseau for the bride, as these pieces are timeless and can be passed down to generations.
The colours gold and silver, used in the gota have their own significance. As it is believed that human beings emerged from a gold and silver womb.
During the marriage and other functions related to it, Gota was put on the groom’s garland and also used on the gift artifacts, offered and exchanged as a tradition of the customs followed in it.
It is said and widely believed that there lived a princess who was very fond of glitter and when she was to be married, she wanted her wedding dress to be extravagant and adorned with gold. The king appointed the best embroiders in the kingdom to stitch her wedding dress and hence, the origination of the embroidery in terms of a wedding attire began. Even today, traditional gota patti is done on colours like red, pink, magenta and green- all the colours associated with Indian weddings.
The wife of the great Mughal emperor, Jodhabai, is said to have been wearing Gota Patti embroidery on her garments.
The Rajputs after collaborating with the Mughals to develop the craft of Gota Patti, patronized it and invited royals from various parts of the country to contribute in the art of Gota Patti that was developed by them. The Gota Patti is believed to have originated as a result of the competition between these royal households.
Gota Patti was a very prominent form of embellishment during Mughal period. It was traditionally done on temple idols, cloths on offering prayer, on royal outfits. Emperor Humayun was the one who brought it with him when he was coming back to India from his visit to Persia around the 16th century. He brought some Persian craftsmen with him, as he wanted them to recreate the artwork on fabric that he had seen during his visit. When these artisans created the artwork on fabric and showed it to the Rajput Royals they were captivated by it. They decided to form an alliance with the Mughals, so that they can keep this art in India. Mughal and Persian cultures then united to create the fascinating Gota Patti embroidery, which still fascinates us. Later when the Rajputs came to know about this craft, they came together with the Mughals on the basis of their healthy and diplomatic relationship. This turned out to be a remarkable transformation for the art and craft of that period.
Though during that time Mughal and Rajput Royals used to wear the clothes in which Silk and Satin were used as base fabric, while Gota Patti work was used to create motifs on royal garments, pure gold and silver metallic wires used for Gota ribbon, it was only afforded by the royals and was not meant for the ordinary folks. The Gota Patti was cut according to natural motifs like birds, human figures, animals and attached to cloth decorated by gold and silver wire. It resembled with the Kundan and Meenakari jewellery of Rajasthan. These outfits especially worn on auspicious days, weddings. This technique was also used in the paintings of the royal houses. This technique could also be seen in the paintings of the royals in their houses.
During these times, the Gota Patti was a male-dominated craft which was performed in the court workshops or the ‘karkhanas’ or royal karkhanas. Especially the reign of Shah Jahan was supposed to be the golden period for a lot of crafts including Gota Patti. Though with the decline of the Mughal empire the patronage of arts and crafts also reduced and the artisans migrated to other parts of the country. Despite of this, the rich patrons continued to commission the artisans for this craft.
‘Lurex’ was a yarn with a metallic appearance, which became available in the 20th century. This turned out to be an amazing phase for the Gota Patti embroidery, as now the pure gold and silver used in it were replaced by lurex. This made it cheaper in price, so now it was affordable by ordinary folks and was available for the masses. So, now this craft went under a positive shift. This became a family-based household enterprise from merely a male-dominated practice in the royal karkhanas. Since at some point post-independence, the artisans began to work from their homes. This proximity of workplace to the family, made it possible for all the family members to contribute to the making of this craft. It also increased the family income.
It is also believed that Gota Patti might have been developed as a cheaper version of the Danka work of the Udaipur region, also known as ‘Korpatti ka kaam’. Since Dankas used sheets of pure gold and silver, and so they were very expensive. Also comparatively Gota were easier to work with as one can get the same luxurious feel of gold and also its pliable and there was a greater scope of manipulation.
The design and motifs are inspire by nature like birds (peacock, parrot, sparrow), human figure( Bani thani), animals (elephant, horse). The contemporary design like paisley, geometrical, palanquin, checkerboard are also in fashion. These motifs are structured into buta, butties and cut into various shapes likes flower pot (Gamla), Keri (Mango) and champak flower, and stitched with the base fabrics by chain stitch or by hemming.
The variations in the carft are inevitable in system. The two major types of variations are common which is inherent in a system and other which is caused by environment, thus creating a variety of textured patterns in the design over the time.
– Pure gold and silver wires have been substituted by the multi coloured polyester ribbon done cost competitiveness has good resistance to moisture and does not tarnish as compared to metal-based Gota.
– In the technique of gota tukdi,gota is cut into shapes such as the gamla (flower pot),kairi(mango) and champak flower, and appliqued onto a base fabric embellished with embroidery techniques such as zardozid and ari.Gota patti involves the folding of tapes into basic rhomboid units,referred to as patti or leaves and combining them to create elaborate motifs and patterns that are sewn onto turbans,garments,baskets,thalposh or platter covers, and hookah.
The crafts also used for products like salwar kurta, lehenga, short kurta, topper, skirts, cholis, ghagras, odhnis, saris, turbans, torans, cushion cover, mobile cover and jooties. Mainly The work of gota doing on pure Georgette, Chiffon, Velvet & Silk whereas as in recent years synthetic fabrics are used for the production. The colors commonly used were Red, Orange, Pink, magenta, Maroon & Yellow which are nowadays available in all possible shades as per the customer demand.
The golden or silver work that you see on the fabric is what Gota is. In the olden days, real gold and silver was used, but since it is not reasonable now, polyester is used in place of metal. The polyester is metalized and coated according to the design that has to be interlaced with the cloth. The shiny bands are then interwoven with the looms that are going to be sewn down to the material. Decorative patterns which appear to be like Zari are patched on the textile to give the complete impression.
The making of Gota Patti has been kept alive and reached the local opulence, as it went from being a male-dominant craft done in the royal karkhanas to being done in the households and becoming a house-hold enterprise. Artisans traditionally used pure gold and silver for making the Gota as well as pure silk and cotton fabric. This gave it that royal and luxurious feel. Though this is now replaced with copper wires (coated with silver) or the plastic gota, and synthetic yarns, the Gota Patti work still remains symbolic to luxury and tradition. The artisans work for a long time in their work place called ‘Adda’ to create the Gota Patti embroidery as the process is arduous. But it becomes all worthwhile as the outcome is mesmerizing. The beauty of the process lies in the way the Gota is formed, as the artisan can weave in many different ways.
The waste that is left after the process of Gota Patti embroidery are shreds of the ribbon and threads, which are collected and disposed.
The old Gota borders, motifs and patches from the garment that is no longer in use, can be reused and are also sold in the shops. Also the artisan can remove the design made using raw materials on the old textile surface and it can be reused, upcycled or recycled. So, there won’t be a lot of waste.
Earlier when real gold and silver, also known as ‘zari’, were used in the making of Gota Patti embroidery, once the garment was worn out, the garment were sold by the weight of the zari. After that the fabric used to be burnt and the metal would be extracted to be reused.
As the work of Gota Patti is timeless and lasts for a really long time, it can be passed down to generations and can be restored and reused.
Wooden frame: The Gota Patti work is done on Wooden or metallic Frame also known as ‘Khaat’, over which base fabric is drag tightly to provide uniform tension and that prevents pattern distortion.
Needle: Awe or ari needle used for the process. it is type of crochet needle. Most commonly used needle is called Crewel, also known as embroidery needle.
Scissors: Used to cut the threads and loose ends. Their blades should be slender and about 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches long, tapering to narrow and sharp ends.
Wooden Hammer, Iron tool known as Pitan Kutan
The artisans make this craft of Gota Patti the whole year. Though during the months of April, May and June they do it less, as during these months, neither weddings or any major festivals take place. Since, Gota Patti works are mostly worn during the weddings or festivals.
The artisans start their day by doing a puja and then start their work.
A very intricate form of metal embroidery, this technique is also known as Gota Kinari or ‘Lappe ka Kaam’. The gold and silver metals have now been replaced with silver coated copper or plastic gota, however the majestic royal look of the Gota remains the same.
Chapaayi: means ‘Process of Tracing’.
Takaayi: means ‘Process of Stitching’ or ‘Appliqueing’.
Silaayi: means ‘Process of tailoring’.
List of craftsmen.