Kutch textiles: Kala Raksha centre for embroiders

Posted on May 5, 2019 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Kala Raksha

 

When I was doing my workshop at Somaiya Kala Vidya, the founder Judy Frater mentioned that she had co-founded and ran another Trust before moving to Somaiya Kala Vidya, and she said that the centre is located in a beautiful and tranquil environment just outside of Bhuj. Luckily, we did pay a visit to the Kala Raksha Center in Sumrasar Sheikh village, which was designed by Ahmedabad architect R. J. Vasavada. The Kala Raksha Trust was co-founded and operated by Judy, where she also established the Kala Raksha Textile Museum, and founded Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, the first design school for traditional artisans in 2005. Although Judy no longer works for the organisation, the Trust and institution are still in operation, and visitors can learn about the Trust's work in preservating Kutch's traditional arts at its centre.

When we arrived at the centre, we were all captivated by the round buildings and the surrounding environment. The buildings are based on the traditional round bhungas, though using contemporary materials and technology. Like the traditional structure of artisans' villages, the centre is modular, comprising separate bhungo units arranged with local landscaping to create an inviting atmosphere. The units include office, workshop, resource center, museum, shop and guest house, and they are all fully electrified with photovoltaic solar power.

 

Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha  Kala Raksha

 

Like I mentioned in the previous posts, many of the Kutch textiles originate from Sindh (now Pakistan), and their traditions and techniques were brought over to West India due to the migration of nomadic tribes. There are numerous styles and techniques practised by different tribes, but one of the most prominent technique is embroidery. Embroidery can be seen on marriage costumes, wall hangings, quilts, and cradle cloths etc.

Kutch is particularly renowned for its mirrored embroideries. Most of these were traditionally stitched by village women, for themselves and their families, to create festivity, honour deities, or generate wealth. Embroidery also communicates self-expression and status. Differences in style create and maintain distinctions that identify community, sub-community, and social status within the community. At Kala Raksha, they work with six distinct hand embroidery styles: the Sindh/Kutch regional styles of suf, khaarek, and paako, and the ethnic styles of Rabari, Garasia Jat, and Mutava.

 

Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha

 

Today, the organisation work with about 1,000 artisans/female embroiders from seven communities in 25 villages of the desert district of Kutch. Artisans are brought to the center, and under the guidance of trained coordinators, work is distributed to insure fairness, while prices are set by the artisans themselves. The final products are sold through the shop at the center, some selected shops and at exhibitions held outside Kutch. We love the high quality products sold at the centre esp. the embroidered chess and snake and ladder sets, and it gave us an opportunity/excuse to go on another shopping spree as a way of supporting the Trust and the artisans.

After the shopping, we visited the artisans' residence where we saw two female (possibly mother and daughter) doing some hand embroidery at home. This is a far cry from the sweat shop environment that you normally see on the news! I think India, Pakistan and Bangladesh need to have more NGOs like this to not only preserve the traditions but also help artisans to support themselves and not be exploited by the greedy employers and unethical fashion companies from the West.

 

Kala Raksha  Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha  Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha  Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha

 


This post was posted in Travel, Textiles, India, embroidery, Kutch and was tagged with textiles, embroidery, India, Kutch, Indian textiles, Gujarat, Kala Raksha, Kutch textiles

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