The Artist has to be the guardian of culture
Kutch is known for its remarkable mud architecture, a wide array of craft traditions and exquisite apparel designs. Whereas each community in the region has distinct traditions, dance, craft and dress, the common feature is a vibrancy and elegance in all Kutchi creations. Clay craft is also known as a contemporary Mud Work in which attractive wall pieces with small mirrors are made in Kutch. The different tribal groups that now live in Kutch have migrated from countries as diverse as present day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Turkey, Iran and other areas in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Traditional silver tribal jewellery remains an integral part of village dress. Jewellery is not just a means for embellishment, but is a mark of identity, a display of wealth and therefore, a symbol of pride. Many visitors come to Kutch because of these communities who have chosen to preserve their traditional culture and lifestyles. Most of these tribes are cattle breeders or farmers and stay close to nature. A well-known Hindu community in the Kutch – Ahirs, believed to be descended from Lord Krishna, are farmers, wearing white shirts and white turbans. Ahir women are famous for wearing motifs such as parrots, elephants, peacocks and big mirrors.
Rogan painting is a unique craft and practiced by very few families. Rogan painting involves the use of a thick paste, which is prepared by boiling the oil of safflower, castor or linseed and pouring it into water. This paste is mixed with chalk colour pigment and a binding agent to form a thick dye. The painting on the cloth is done using a stick rod or a metal block. Geometric and floral designs are the norm. Red, blue and yellow are the usual colours that are employed. Rogan printing is used for decorating wall hangings, table-cloth, curtains, sarees and skirt borders.
Pottery is the oldest craft known to man. The potters source mud from the surroundings and create various types of earthernware. A thin wash of geru (an earthy red colour) is applied and then the pottery is decorated with geometric or figurative patterns. Gundayali, Khadva, Bhuj and Lodiya are the places renowned for their pottery art.
The natural resources required for Kharad Craft are wool and vegetable colors. Originally Kharad carpets were made from goat and camel hair wool. The Kharad artisans produce Kharad carpet – Khurjani, which is used to keep on the back of a camel to carry heavy items and Rasa – a thick cloth used to cover grains.
Kutch fosters seventeen explicit styles of embroidery, mastered among nine communities. Ahir, Soof, Kharek, Pakko, Jat, Dheberia Rabari, Marwada embroidery and Mutwa are some of the names of embroidery of the region.
- Ahir: The artistic Ahir embroidery incorporates flowers, parrots, peacocks, milkmaids and mirror work. Outlined with the chain stitch, the designs are then filled with herringbone stitch.
- Kharek: Originated in Sindh, Kharek is a geometric motifs that resembles a bird’s eye view of date (Kharek) palms. The intricate design is configured with the black running stitch and filled up with colour in density with the satin stitch.
- Soof: Soof is an exclusive embroidery style, in which the women count the thread of the fabric and then stitch from the reverse side. Soof produces the geometrical masterpiece constituted entirely of chevrons. The finishing of Soof embroidery is so precise that it appears like machine-made.
- Paako: Paako means permanent. The name is a tribute to the sturdiness of the stitch. Women first outline the fabric with the square chain stitch and embellish it with buttonhole and mirrors. The central theme is floral. And the result is an embossed texture.
- Jat: Among the three Jat embroidery types that belong to three sub-groups of Jat community, Garasia Jat Embroidery is very famous and scrupulous. This type of embroidery covers the entire fabric with the tough enough stitches. The fabric is first outlined with white stitches and completed with an arrangement of tiny mirror work and cross-stitch.
- Mutwa: Mutwas are versed in five different embroidery styles, consisting of geometry and floral patterns. The signature trait is a confluence of tiny mirrors and minute stitches.
- Mirror Work: Merchants and travellers from the Middle East introduced mirror work (locally known as Abhla-kam) to Guajrat in the 13th century. Mirror work is developed into a sophisticated skill and an integral part of embroidery and patchwork.
Clay craft is ingrained deeply into Kutch’s ancient tradition. Kutch is known for its Terracotta, mud and mirror work, which has both sacred as well as aesthetic appeal. The wet clay, molded into different shapes and sizes, is an artistic expression of the vision and correlation of the society.
Leather craft is infinitesimal in shape, composition, pattern and decor. The traditional pieces are more original, individualistic and colorful and largely embroidered. Fascinating articles are made out of leather like, cushion covers, bags, fans, to name a few.
Wood carving is a famous and traditional craft of Kutch. Temples and old houses provide the best example of the richness of this craft with projecting balconies and floors of the mansions deeply carved. Inlay work using coloured wood, horns and even commercially viable options like plastic are used in artifacts and wooden plaques.
Kutch presents a simple yet delicious cuisine that is appetizing. The staple food of the region is Khichdi (a sumptuous mix of rice cooked with pulses), Kadhi (a lightly-flavoured, yellow curry made with yogurt), Rotla (a nutritious Indian bread made from black millet flour) and green chilli pickle, accompanied by buttermilk. Local fast food of the region is Kutchi Dabeli. Besides, Kharibhat and Chakrada Pakwan are famous dishes of the region. Guests at Rann Utsav may like to round it off on a sweet note with jalebis (Indian sweetmeat) or go for dudhpak (a spiced milk with rice) and many more choices.
Kutchi folk music has existed since ancient period. Musical instruments like Sharnai, Tabla, Murli, Manjira, Nagara, Ghaghar, Duff, Damaru, Dholak, Nagfani, Bhorrindo, Jhanjhra and Daklu are linked with a number of aspects of Kutchi people and their religion. Shorrindo, Jodia Pawa are very antique folk music instruments of Kutch.
Folk dance is an inseparable feature of the region. Most celebrations in the region are accompanied by the folk dance forms like Dholi Nritya, Manjira Nritya, Garba and Garbi, Tippani Nritya, Ghoriya Raas, Dandiya Raas, Titdo, Hinch, Luvar, Ashwa Nritya, and Jag Nritya, Adivasi dance, Mashira Nritya of Siddis, Sword Raas of Gadhvis and many more.