Art history/ Historiography, Crafts, Handlooms, Art

Embroidery: The Vanishing Heritage of the Nomadic Rabaris

Edwards, Eiluned

Issue 1, Summer 2019                                                                        ISSN: 2581 - 9410

The nomadic Rabaris of Kutch have produced some of the most spectacular embroidery of the Indian sub-continent. Inspection reveals a distinctive and coherent visual vocabulary expressed with great skill. It is a marker of their identity and plays such an important role in their traditional way of life that it has now seen as a barrier to change and is subject to a ban, which is rigorously enforced.

A glimpse of the dramatic attire of the Rabari, predominantly black wool for the women and white cotton for the men, impacts on the eye in sharp contrast to the dun-coloured landscape of the village or the kaleidoscopic hues of the bazaar. Closer inspection reveals a distinctive and coherent visual vocabulary expressed in supremely skilful embroidery.

However, in the last year, a radical piece of self-legislation has been introduced by the samaj, or community council of two of the three sub-groups in Kutch. A wholesale ban on the use of embroide...

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