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Colours of Kutch

Kutch derives its name from the Gujarati word Kachbo. The native meaning of the word is tortoise. This refers to the topography of the island and more specifically its shape. It is a flat and tortoise shaped land. Others say that the name means a land which now and again becomes wet and dry. Spanning almost 46,000 square kilometer the Kutch is flanked by the sea (Gulf of Kutch and Arabian Sea) in the south and west and the Rann (Great and Little) in the north and east. But Kutch is much more than its topography and geography. It is not without reason that it is popularly called Khushboo Gujarat ki. The region is known around the world for its unique mirror work. This style of work is easily identifiable. It is characterized by the usage of flamboyant colors, application of mirrors and beads, and intricate needlework that embellishes and adorns the entire fabric on which it is applied. These mirror work, or the reflective luminescent pieces now replacing them, form various shapes and designs and are applied on a wide range of fabrics like silk, georgette, chiffon and others. They then turn into attractive apparel and home furnishings.

The Kutch region is culturally very rich with its unique set of crafts, color, architecture, and culture. Kutch is known as a cradle of craftsmanship. The embroideries originating from this area are supported by the different tribal and community groups who are sometimes connected culturally and ethnically. The popular forms of embroidery or dress originating from this area are – ghagro; kancholi; odhni; dhoti; vanjani; kadiyu; khamis; and shawls and turbans for the men. They are unique in colors, fabrics, and decoration to designate community, age, and marital status. Besides embroidery Kutch is known for its pottery, wood-carving, metal-crafts and shell-work. The terrain is so enchanting that it serves as a perfect backdrop for the creations that glitter with exquisite embroidery and mirror work.

Kutch is eminently colorful. The color originates from the land which is so white that a small hint of color adds a fascinating element to the predominantly rustic life. Shisha or mirror embroidery, as we know it today, date back to the 17th century and has now entered the main fabric of Indian society. Its usage has even penetrated Bollywood with heroines flaunting this dress style quite often on the screens. Be it highly decorated camels or the exhilarating Garba, the images used in Kutch embroidery have remained colorful over the ages. However, within this general trend variations exist. The embroidery style is known to have up to 16 variations, each one unique to a particular community. Each one has a different pattern, a different motif giving them their own visual identity. These patters and images which are being used for centuries are both bold and courageous on one hand and effortlessly harmonious on the other. Kutch designs have drawn inspirations from various architectural creations, multiple dance forms with human figurines in dancing poses, and even dancing peacocks. Now there is a steady flow of fashion designers who apply Kutch inspired fashion to various forms of apparel, accessories and even home furnishings.

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