Tribal Embroideries of Kutch

Posted on December 04, 2014 by Candace Whalen | 0 Comments

Rabari Embroidery on a Purse
Isolated by its geography of marshy salt flats and the Gulf of Kutch from most of the rest of India and by a political border from Pakistan, the region of Kutch in the western state of Gujarat has retained a unique cultural heritage.  Textile embroidery is one of the best known manifestations of this culture.

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.

Kutch hand embroidery, which is frequently embellished with mirrors, is created by village women from various tribes.  Traditionally made for herself and her family, a woman's embroidery communicates her artistic skills and her status, as well as her tribal affiliation.

Childern in a Kutch Village

Garasia Jat Embroidery

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.


Garasia Jat Embroidery
Paako Embroidery

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.

Paako Embroidery
Rabari Embroidery

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.

Rabari Embroidery
Nomadic camel herders in Kutch share the road with a truck carrying a giant blade for a modern wind turbine.
Kutch Embroidery Today


In recent years, the outside world has taken an interest in Kutch embroidery; and this product—originally made for home use—is in commercial demand.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.


Kutch embroidery from one of these cooperatives is available in our Ebay store.  You'll find trims in our Embroidered Trim Department and purses in our Handbags Department.


Veiled for modesty around visitors, a woman shows her embroidery in the courtyard of her home.

Posted in diy, fabric, Indian Destinations, sewing trim

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