Shrujan Kutch

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1 SHRUJAN (meaning creativity in Sanskrit), is a not for profit NGO that works for craft revival and sustainable livelihoods for women in Kutch. Pics shows dress of various communities in Kutch. Left to right the Ahir embroidery is called Ahir. Then back row is Rabaari, Sodha, Meghwaad Maaru, Jat Garaasiya, Jat Fakiraani, Raau Node. In front are Mutva, Meghwaad Maarwaada, Haalepotra.

2 Overview of the Living and Learning Design Centre (LLDC). Over the years Shrujan has expanded to include research & documentation of the diverse embroideries of Kutch and the communities thereon. Album sequence is unique building design, museum, shop items for sale interspersed with village lady pics where Shrujan gets its embroidery work done.

3 I spent a morning at LLDC, an international standard crafts museum. LLDC is a place for preserving, promoting, celebrating crafts & a training centre for those who wish to acquire or enhance their skills. Five entrances, indicated by marble, that you see are for ventilation. Walls are thick so keep heat away.

4 Area has arid vegetation around and gets very hot. Thus LLDC building designed to keep the building cool. Window in external wall of earlier pic. Designed in a manner to let light come in but not hurt. In Feb 2018 a gallery, library & three craft studios were operational. A Craft School is planned in the near future.

5 Chain with pipe helps to protect from water when it rains heavily. Reddish colour is external wall. Light brown is inner wall. This way rain does not damage internal wall plus it prevents heat from going inside.

6 Right is external wall of previous pic. Left is inner wall. Small windows to allow light and breeze to come in. This way inside office does not get direct sunlight. Kutch gets really hot, double wall reduces the impact of heat.

7 Design inside building is that allows for breeze to move and walls reduce impact of heat. LLDC is 18 kms from Bhuj.

8 Local name is GAADU. It is attached to a bullock and used for transportation. “The canteen is a delightful stop, vying in popularity with the museum store. It is hard to stop asking for more ghee-dabbed paper-thin rotis and sweetened dal served with choondo—sweet pickle made from grated mango.”

9 Complex has a 125 seater auditorium. Visitors can see a short movie on work done & views of ladies associated with Shrujan. Crafts Museum+Shop+Café open from 10 am to 6 pm Monday closed. Next pic Ahirs hail from Mathura. They set out for Dwarka with Lord Krishna but settled at Tharparkar in Sindh. About 700-800 years ago they shifted to Kutch.

10 Saryiben Mata, Master craftswoman and teacher Ahir embroidery is part of the film. LLDC researches and documents history & practice of each craft. The first Heritage book & Self-Learning Film, Under the Embroidered Sky: Embroidery of the Ahirs of Kutch, has been produced with the participation of three generation of Ahir craftswomen.

11 During Kutch trip visited villages where women are associated with Shrujan. First village was Nironha ie 40 kms from Bhuj. These ladies do embroidery work. Supervisor is Jashoda Bahen. If a lady works for 30 days in a month and eight hours a day she would earn app Rs 4,200/. Since embroidery involves intricate work showed ladies which mudras and asanas help improve eyesight.

12 Museum designed by Abhishek Ray of Matrika Design Collaborative. Rabaaris lead a nomadic life in search of pasture. Often it is women who lead camel caravans thru scrubland full of thorny shrubs. Women embroider their clothing. Camels too adorned with embroidered decorations. Men wear white garments, embroidery seen on women is big, bold, in 2 main colours of white and yellow.

13 Wall hangings on display in museum. Kutch has a tradition of crafts: 22 different crafts are practiced even today. They include embroidery, weaving, block printing, rogan painting and tie-dye, as well as wood, metal, leather, lacquer and silver work.

14 Right is cupboard of the Rabaari community. Loved the food at LLDC canteen.

15 Left top are bells made at village Nirona. Right centre is material kept whilst sitting on a horse. Home items and musical instrument on display.

16 Musical instruments on display. Earlier traditional embroidery was a personal craft. It was only in the late 1960s that for the first time it became a means of economic survival. Shrujan pioneered this shift.

17 Village CHEER. Driver Meetbhai with ladies who do embroidery work for Shrujan. Village is enroute from Lakhpat to Narayan Sarovar. Lady supervisor is Harkorba. 170 ladies from in and around this village are associated with Shrujan. Men are employed in power plant close by. Think they are Sodha community

18 Wall hanging in store. Loved these. Summer of 1969 Kutch faced with drought for the 4th year in a row. Smt Chanda Shroff visited Dhaneti village in Kutch to start a free canteen. Village women were reluctant to accept charity. In the exquisite embroidery on their clothing Chanda Kaki saw a way for them to earn a dignified and sustainable livelihood.

19 Bed-sheet, cushion covers and bags. Craftswoman work from here. Shrujan sends them the fabrics and thread at the doorstep and picks up the final product. Embroidered textiles are fashioned into high quality apparel etc for sale thru Shrujan shops.

20 Ladies clothing. “The style of a woman’s garb tells at what stage in her life she is. “For eg, in the Ahirs, the kaachdi (blouse) of young unmarried girls is designed of the same fabric without a sald (bust panel). The blouse of a newly married woman will have a bust panel made of a fabric distinct from the rest of the blouse. The ghaagro (skirt) of a woman who has been married for a while is usually a sedate black or red”.

21 Cushion covers. Captions taken from various websites and Shrujan booklets etc. The Meghwaad Maaru community is best known for its 2 counted thread embroidery styles called Soof and Khaarak. They migrated from Tharparkar in Pakistan during the Indo-Pak war of 1971.

22 Enroute from Lakhpat to Narayan Sarovar in village Kapoorasi. Supervisor Niluben. Some of the women who are associated from Shrujan. Women from all communities do embroidery work. Since the dates on which I was travelling were auspicious marriage dates, in some villages could not meet ladies since they were away.

23 Embroidery work done by ladies of Kapoorasi. Younger lot of ladies very confident. Spent an enjoyable 45 odd minutes there. Village has toliets. Typical home in all the villages I visited was – open area like a hall, two bedrooms adjoining each other, kitchen, huge open area in which were also kitchen and toilets at each corner of the plot.

24 Mufflers on display in shop. LLDC researches and documents the history and practice of each craft.

24a Shawls on display. Aari embroidery was a court one done by male artisans for royalty. It had a strong presence in Mughal court and British Raj. In Kutch it is the Mochi community that create Aari embroidery for Shrujan.

25 Wall hangings.

26 Dupattas.

27 Bags. Loved them.

28 Embroidery work done by ladies of a village near Mundra port. Village name is Pragper. Lady supervisor is Pani Bahen. They do very good embroidery work on wallets. Contact number is 91 81410 65255.

29 Ladies who work with Shrujan at village Pragper. Walked around entrance of Mundra port. Locals said before the port came up no one came there, it was wild vegetation.

30 Back to LLDC you see a weaver who is making reel of thread which is called bobbin. This bobbin is used in weft to apply design in Bhujodi weaving.

31 This is the Hands-on Gallery where you can try your hand at some of the crafts. This fun place will enhance your appreciation of what it means to work with the hand. What you see is block printing material.

32 Close to Shrujan LLDC in Ajrakpur is workshop of well-known block printer Sufiyan Ismal Khatri, 91 94277 19313, sufiankhatri@yahoo.com

33 Khatri’s shop is minutes away from LLDC. Their products on display. Shop is very well designed. Done by the same person who designed LLDC.

34 Khatri’s door is full of wooden block prints as you see.

35 What Shrujan has done since 1969 is to bring a SMILE to ladies faces. The additional income helped and importantly has kept the embroidery tradition alive. More people should visit Kutch. Awesome. Best time is November to February. Shrujan was founded by the late Smt Chanda Shroff. To read The Shrujan story http://shrujan.org/the-shrujan-story/