“Sunset, stars and stories etched on the sands of time…”
The vast grasslands of Banni meet the Great Rann in the Khavda region, north of Bhuj. They are home to numerous pastoral nomadic, semi-nomadic and resident people who keep sheep, goats, camels, buffaloes and other livestock. The 40 or so hamlets here are best known for the minute detail of their embroidery. More recently, these villages have started focusing on selling handicrafts as their main source of income and there are signs of modernization and commercialization. The traditional bhungas(circular huts with sloping thatched roofs) are made from mud plastered with cow dung which are often decorated with hand-painted floral patterns and inlaid with mirrors during festivals. Traditional utensils are still used for cooking, eating and storage in the houses. The area is known for its raptors – eagles, vultures and other birds of prey.
, 80 km north, is the centre for Mutua embroidery, using chain stitches inset with small mirrors, leather embroidery as well as silver jewellery.
, 25 km northeast, is famous for its Ahir embroidery and Soof embroidery of the Sodhas, done without a plan but by counting the warp and weft of the material.
Kala Raksha Academy
, www.kala-raksha.org, is a grassroots organization that maintains a small museum of heirloom textiles. It works with and trains 180 artisans to create contemporary pieces inspired by their own traditions. It is now run by Judy Frater, the American author of Threads of Identity
Tunda Vandh is a good place to see typical bhungas
of Kachchh. Architecture students come to see, study and photograph the traditional architecture adapted to this hostile climate. The interiors have beautiful Rabari cupboards, chests, inlaid mirrors and paintings.
This Banni Village is 60 km away, has huts with painted and mirror inlaid walls, and is famed for its wood crafts. Zura, 30 km, produces embroidered footwear and other leather crafts. Copper bells are also made in this village.
It is 40 km northwest, has embroidery, lacquered wood crafts, wood carving and is THE ONLY PLACE IN INDIA where the highly skilful and intricate rogan- painting (fabrics painted using iron rods)is done. Buses from Bhuj take about 1½ hours.
Hodka is 63 km north, is the site of an indigenous tourism project, with a resort comprising tents and traditional bhungas built in traditional style, owned and run by the village in cooperation with hospitality professionals and KMVS
. Local guides show visitors around the village, providing ample opportunity to interact with the residents, and to buy embroidery direct from the artisans.
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