Heritage Handicrafts Workshop Day 2- Rabari Embroidery

Gujarat! The name itself gives us a crystal-clear picture of a world full of colours, designs, embroideries and mirror work. People all over the world have always been lured and fascinated by their unique and enchanting use of fabrics n embroidery techniques. One of the most famous embroidery is the Rabari embroidery of Kutch. It majorly works with chain stitches and extraordinary mirror works. Thanks to the department of Fashion Design and Technology at Amity Mumbai for organising traditional Indian textile embroidery workshop and exposing the students towards India’s exquisite artworks.

Sample of Rabari Embroidery

The workshop was directed by Ms. Raniben Rabari, who explained to us about the origin and techniques. Rabari Emboidery gets its name from the Rabari community, who are a nomadic / semi-nomadic community of western region of India, from Rajasthan to the Kutch region in Gujarat, the wandering gypsies. Rabari, or “Rahabari”means one who lives outside or “goes out of the path”. By the end of the twentieth century, Rabari embroidery started to get recognised by its use of mirrors (shisha) surrounded by colourful embroidery. Rabari mythology and their desert habitation have been an inspiration for many of the large and bold designs. They  work on a dark ground, with the individual motifs being outlined with chain stitch and then filled in with buttonhole stitch and herringbone stitch, all in brightly coloured threads. In addition, back stitch (bakhiya) is used to decorate the seams of women’s blouses and on men’s jackets (kediyun).

The students were given samples of base design on black casement fabric and were taught different types of chain stiches on that design along with beautiful mirror works. They were also taught how to make a frame for the mirror to be in place on the fabric and then stitch. The students were provided with different shapes of mirrors and four colors of anchor threads to work with and were even briefed about feather stitch.The intricacy in the art work needs a whole lot of patience, focus, a creative and an active mind. It’s not just playing around with needle and thread. 

The workshop left everybody with a thought and inquisitiveness to learn about our traditional Indian artworks before jumping to the modern world. It also nourished the students about how a modified version of these artworks can be put into today’s contemporary designs.


Author:
Arundhati Abipsha
2nd Year, Fashion Design

Editors:
Prarthana Kapadia
3rd Year, Fashion Design
Shalini Mohanty
Assistant Professor, ASFDT

Graphic Designer:
Sonal Dalvi
2nd Year, Fashion Design

Photographer:
Arundhati Abipsha
2nd Year, Fashion Design

Heritage Handicrafts Workshop Day 1- Pattachitra

Traditionally paper, textiles and stone have been used to create artworks. So, when a new base material is introduced the most intriguing aspect for me is ‘how did this come about?’

If I were one of the people living in a coastal area surrounded by swaying palm trees whispering constantly in the wind, would I ever be thinking of picking up the one fallen frond and using it as a drawing board?

Students Learning Etching on Palm Leaves

As a designer I look for creativity in any means, questions like these have always fascinated me. Fortunately, ASFDT has always been looking for ways of expanding our creativity skills by giving us modern designing techniques while keeping us in touch with our traditional arts. This time a workshop was organised for us to understand Pattachitra or Palm Leaf Etching.

It was directed by Mr. Narayan Das who himself was from Odisha. The place where Pattachitra originated. He explained the history behind the art and since the beginning of time, before paper was invented, people used to write and draw on palm leaves with stylus made of twigs sharpened with rocks to give the effect of a fine tip pen. Interestingly, all the Hindu books, like The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, The Vedas and The Upanishads and other mythological stories were all written on palm leaves.

Original Pattachitra Works

It is basically done on palm leaves but that is not all. The process of preparing the leaf as a canvas is itself an art. To prepare the palm leaf, the unripe leaves of the palm tree are first cut and semidried. It is then buried in swamps for 4-5 days for seasoning and then dried in shade. These are then stitched or stringed together as per the need. At times they are stitched after the etching is complete. The leaf is then hung for a whole of 2 years before it is used. The colour of the leaf never fades after the process and it never gets contaminated.

Well, the motive of this process is preserving the art for thousands of years. Luckily, we got pieces of the pre processed leaves by the artist itself. Samples of Pattachitra were also distributed for reference. The detailed work done on the leaf did blow my mind. As we aren’t professional Pattachitra artists we were asked to do the designs initially with pencil and then etch it with the special needle or a stylus provided by them.

ASFDT Students’ Works

We were given different designs for borders and the main motif for reference but were allowed to use our imaginations. Etching was a bit of a task but we were assisted with great patience by the artist. Needle used in the process for etching is of the same size of a normal pen or a pencil but heavier and with ends sharp enough to etch the processed leaf. After etching, kohl or ‘kajal’ paste is applied on the etched design to colour it black.

Students applying wet kohl to their works to process the etching

The art seems like it is a piece of cake but it takes a lot of effort and intricate work experience and perfection. For me the workshop really made me understand that creativity has no limit and the amount of focus and patience required for making a simple palm leaf etching. The traditional Indian culture has always amazed me. The more I get to know about it the more curious and fascinating it gets.


Author:
Sonali Ojha
3rd Year, Fashion Design

Editors:
Dona Ajay
2nd Year, Fashion Design
Shalini Mohanty
Assistant Professor, Fashion Design

Graphic Designer:
Sonal Dalvi
2nd Year, Fashion Design

Photographers :
Arshi Chaudhary
3rd Year, Fashion Design
Remya Shais
3rd Year, Fashion Design