A woman walks on the "White Desert," part of the Rann of Kutch, a marsh which dries between monsoon seasons, leaving a thick blanket of salt. The Rann separates Kutch from much of the rest of India.
Childern in a Kutch Village
The precise embroidery of the Garasia Jat community is made up of tiny counted cross stitches and usually incorporates minute mirrors.
Garasia Jats are an Islamic farming and cattle herding tribe in Kutch. Their ancestors are believed to have been nomadic herders who originated in Central Eurasia and over centuries migrated to Kutch.
The style of embroidery called paako, which means solid or tight, consists of double buttonhole stitch , chain stitch, and mirrors. Usually symmetrical and often floral, the designs are first outlined in mud with a needle and then stitched.
Paako is a regional style of embroidery and is practiced by several communities.
The Hindu Rabaris are known for their expertise in camel breeding and for their traditionally nomadic way of life. As grazing land for their animals has decreased, Rabari families have taken to raising more sheep and goats than camels and to migrating as nuclear families rather than in extended family groups. Many Rabaris have given up their nomadic ways and settled in villages, grazing their herds locally and working in agriculture.
Square chain stitches and mirrors in multiple shapes are characteristics of Rabari embroidery.
In recent years, the outside world has taken an interest in Kutch embroidery; and this product—originally made for home use—is in commercial demand. In order to make the embroidery more widely available, while maintaining the dignity of the artisans, several women's cooperatives have developed in Kutch. The best of these are non-profit organizations in which women create their own embroidery designs and set the prices for their products.