Last winter we were in India for 3 months to visit our craftgroups and find new gems to start up new collaborations with. At the end of our trip in February we visited the extremely rich textile region of Gujarat in the West of India. This (winter) time of year the weather was great in this region where summer temperatures can get really hot -- up to 50 degrees celsius!
We investigated wool, silk and cottons in various woven, embroidered, (tie)dyed, blockprinted and felted techniques. Award-winning weavers showed us around their workshops and introduced us to the region-specific looms, techniques and patterns that are heavily influenced by various nomadic tribes that have been living here for years. We were blown away by the purity and authenticity that is still to be found in this region.
Yarn spinning and dyeing are both preparations for weaving that are done on the spot. The looms used in Gujarat are merely 'pit looms' where the weaver and the warp are situated close to the ground. The floor absorbs the movements of the loom and the effect of gravity makes the weaving proces / fabrics more steady. On this type of loom the weavers are capable of weaving intricate geometric patterns across the fabric or just as an accent in the border.
Textiles are one of the oldest industries in the state. The state has managed to preserve its old tradition and culture. After a big earthquake in January 2001, a big part of Gujarat was devastated and with the help of the government the region has been re-built in the years after.
After the weaving many different techniques for further 'embellishment' of the fabrics are available. The variety in embroidery work is huge as each 'tribe' traditionally has its own technique and preference for pattern.
Unique to this region are also the many many tailors you can find at every street corner, ready to take your measurements and tailor a handmade garment from your newly purchased fabric. And of course... besides textiles, there is a lot of FOOD - street food!
We left Gujarat full of inspiration for new KARIGAR products. For sure in our upcoming collections we will treat you with some beautiful translations of Gujarat's traditional crafts. Stay tuned!
Text and pictures: Jolijn Fiddelaers