Book Review

Craft, Handloom, Art, Review

Book Review: Textiles & Dress of Gujarat by Eiluned Edwards

Tyabji, Laila

Gujarat and its craftspeople have been an integral part of my life since I chugged into Bhuj station 35 years ago on the metre gauge train from Kandla and - excitedly, nervously - took a tonga to my new assignment at the GURJARI. A barren, dust brown landscape burnt by the blazing, cloudless sun - duned and rippled with the restless movement of the wind. Against the horizon, dwarfed by its scale, a line of men and women led camels: swaying, pouting and sullen, padding deliberate hooves in the shifting sands. The women shrouded in faded black wool; the men in pleated and gathered peacock ruffles of crumpled, once-white homespun cotton. Beneath the dusty layers, the glint of colourful mirrored embroidery, and heavy silver and ivory ornaments. The arrogant, straight-backed stride sent out a message that the poverty and rootlessness of a nomadic people did not destroy their sense of self. I was a young designer who had only lived and worked in the metro cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Tokyo. For me, Kutch was an extraordinary, eye-opening experience. I had never realized that beautiful craft and creativity could spring from such austere beginnings, and that women who toiled from morning to night in the fields could still labour for months embroidering an exquisite mirror-work blouse for their daughter. It was moving to see how important aesthetic was for even the poorest villager - every utensil, textile and surface covered with motif and colour in every medium - from ...
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