The Ras dance
is considered a form of Ras Leela, which Lord Krishna used to
perform at Gokul and Vrindavan. The Ras is simple and is generally
performed by a group of youthful people who move in measured steps
around a circle, accompanied by a singing chorus and a host of
musical instruments like the dhol, cymbals, zanz, shehnai (flute).
The typical folk costume for this dance is a small coat called kedia,
with tight sleeves and pleated frills at the waist with highly
embroidered borders, tight trousers, colourfully embroidered cap or
coloured turban and colourful kamarbandha (cummerbund).
Also known as the
'stick' dance, this is another form of dance that is also a feature
of Navratri. Here, men and women join the dance circle, holding
small polished sticks or dandias. As they whirl to the intoxicating
rhythm of the dance, men and women strike the dandiyas together,
adding to the joyous atmosphere. The best Ras dancers are the
Kathiawari Ras dancers, who hail from the Saurashtra region.
Just as Lord Krishna
popularized the Ras dance, Usha, the grand daughter-in-law of Lord
Krishna gets the credit for popularizing the Lasya Nritya, which
came to be known as Garba Dance. It is a circular dance performed by
women around an earthenware pot called a garbo, filled with water. A
betel nut and a silver coin are placed within the pot, called a
kumbh, on top of which a coconut is placed. As the dancers whirl
around the pot, a singer and a drummer provide the musical
accompaniment. The participants clap in a steady rhythm.
The variety in textiles
lies in the differences of raw materials, the combinations of yarns
and in the effective use of traditional techniques. Variations in
design used by different communities, castes and regions of the
state, have further enriched the range. The most popular textile
styles are :
The famous Patola
weaving of Patan is known for its colorful geometrical pattern which
are strikingly beautiful. The unique tie and weave method of Patola
results in identical patterns on the both the sides of the fabric.
(tie and dye fabric)
The tie-dyed fabrics of
Gujarat are perhaps the best produced in India. Also known as
Bandhej, it is produced on superfine cotton mulmul, muslin sometimes
combined with gold checks and motifs worked in the jamdani
technique. The highest intensity of Bandhini dyeing is in Kutch, but
some of the best works are from Jamnagar and Saurashtra, on the
Southern coast of Gulf of Kutch. The printed portion of the fabric
are pinched and pushed into small points and then knotted with 2 or
3 twists of thread. The knotted parts remain uncoloured and the
fabric is dyed in the lightest shade first, retied and dyed in the
Pachedi prints are made
in the honor of goddess Durga by the vahgari community priests.
Surat is one of the
biggest and the most important Jari manufacturing centre of India.
It is one of the oldest industries, which dates back to the Mughal
period. The principal types of products are made of real gold and
silver threads or imitation gold and silver threads. The major
embroidery patterns are chalak, salaiya, kangri, tikki, ring and
It is a fabric woven
with a combination of silk and cotton. Mashru is well known for its
bold patterns and colours. Weaving traditions prevalent in Iraq and
the Arab countries may have influenced the tradition of mashru.
Worn originally by
tribes of Gujarat, this fabric is printed in geometric patterns with
bold black outlines, in deep earthy colours.
It is heavily decorated
and embroidered decoration hung over the entrance and is considered
a symbol of warm welcome.
Dhamadka & Ajrakh
The intricate art of
printing fabrics using wooden blocks thrives in the riverside town
of Jetpur, midway Gondal and Junagadh, and earns valuable foreign
exchange along side the more modern screen-printing workshops.
Kutch also specializes in block printing, and vegetable dyes,
paraffin wax resist, patricate-printing material. Bright ajrakh
prints are still used though now synthetic dyes and modern
techniques have been adopted. Dhamadka are block prints that derive
their name from the village of origin, well known for its river
water that brightens the colours. A range of contrasting maroons,
yellows, blues and reds with patterns generated through tiny dots.
This fabric from
Surendranagar is inlayed with thread during weaving to create
geometrical patterns and peacock motifs.
Gujarat is especially known for its Saris. Different styles of
sarees available in Gujarat are:
Sarees woven with gold
and silver thread known as ganga-jamuna. The borders retain the
flowing patterns of old chanderi and paithani sarees, which were a
specialty of western India
Chinese weavers first
introduced tanchoi in Surat and the Parsi community used it
extensively. They continue to be woven into sarees as well as fabric
silk sarees from Cambay are first woven with silk and zari threads
and then tie-dyed or block printed.
The Patola Silk from
Patan is famous and one of the biggest selling fabrics in some of
the larger cities.The patola is one of the finest hand-woven sarees
produced today. The weaving is done on simple traditional handlooms,
and the dyes used are made from vegetable extracts and other natural
colours, which are so fast that there is a Gujarati saying that "the
patola will tear, but the colour will not fade."
Jewellery making is the
art of highest anituity. The famous among these are filgree work,
open wire work. carving etc. Wnamelling is another noteworthy
artistic craft. Kutch region is renowned for its necklaces,
ear-rings etc. Silver jewellery is always in great demand with
Rajkot and Ahmedabad being centres for silver ornaments.The brass
industry of Jamnagar is one of the largest in India. Gujarat's other
paramount craft is silver and iron works, found nowhere better than
in the former princely state of Saurashtra and Kutch. Beads stones
are prepared from Agate, a semi-precious stone mostly in Cambay
region for ear rings, necklace and other ornamental articles.
Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Junagadh and other places are also
known for bead work.
Saurashtra and Sanked in
the Vadodara district are also known for their lacquer work. Toys,
stands, parts of bedstead, cradles, cradles, low chairs are some of
the important items of lacquer work. Ivory is mostly used in inlay
work and preparation of artistic bangles. Mahuva in Bhavnagar
district and Idar in Sabarkantha district are known for the
manufacturing of wooden lacquer toys.
Exquisite wood carvings
can be observed in the temples, havelis and many houses in various
parts of Gujarat. The major centres of wood carvings are Visnagar,
Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Mahuva, and Bilimora. Sandalwood boxes from
Surat are very popular. Wood carving is another important craft in
Gujarat, evident in the many elaborately carved temples, havelis
(mansions) and palaces as well as objects of daily and ritual use.
Utensils are another area where the craftspersons of Gujarat have
excelled. Gujarat is also famous for its terracotta work, especially
votive terra-cotta figurines which one can find by the hundreds at
small shrines built in forests, along roads, outside villages, on
lonely hill-tops and under large trees, especially in south Gujarat.
industry that has become synonymous with Southern Gujarat is the
lacquered furniture of Sankheda near Vadodara. Wood is rounded with
tools and painted with floral and abstract designs in bright shades
of gold, silver, maroon, green, vermilion, and brown by using sticks
dipped in a coloured mixture of dyes, powdered zinc, lac and resin.
The furniture and woodcrafts of Surat, Kutch and Saurashtra are also
popular. The artisans of Kutch make wood take on beautiful designs
and intricate filigreed appearance of lace. Lacquered furniture
similar to that of Sankheda is also made in Mahuva near Bhavnagar,
Surat and Kutch.
The temple curtain work
is a specially of some Vaghari Harijan families of Ahmedabad. Its is
prepared in the old madder process and depicts the Goddes Durga
riding tiger a well as other illustrations from Puranic legends.
The state's oldest
handicraft is certainly pottery, which achieved great standards of
excellence in ancient times. The commonest of art forms, pottery is
also one of the most fascinating. With the few turns of the wheel
and expert flicks of the hand, village potters mould an ordinary
lump of mud into a well proportioned and useful clay utensils,
embellished by their wives with paintings and colourful lines.
Terracotta toys are another craft of the potters of Kutch, but it is
in the Aravallis and Chhota Udepur tribal lands that potters make
the famous long necked terracotta figurines of the Gora Dev (tribal
horse God), said to protect crops, villages and families from evil
spirits, evil intentions and natural calamities.
Embroidery is Gujarat's
quintessential handicraft. Techniques vary with the community and
region. It is a simple needle work but exquisite effects of Bavalia
embroidery are brought to the fabulous bright yellow and red Banni
embroidery. There are many other kinds of embroidery like the
embroidery of the Rabari cameleers, reminiscent of their pastoral
life style, inlaid with triangular, square and almond shaped
mirrors; the geometric and floral motifs of the Ahir community with
circular mirrors; the chain stitches and tiny mirrors used by the
Jats; the delicate soof embroidery of the Sodha Rajputs around
Lakhpat ; the tiny broken mirrors embroidered into fabrics by the
Mutwa cameleers; and the exquisite Mukka embroidery of the Hali
Putras, Rasipotra and Node herds people.
blankets and rugs are woven on primitive pitlooms in the villages of
Kutch. Wankars weave designs with their hands while the machine is
worked by foot pedals. The result, gorgeous patterns and remarkable
colours combinations. Durries can be made from wool, goat hair and
cotton. Colourful quilts and camel comparison are also woven
traditionally on pitlooms, shuttle looms and other handlooms.
Handloom weaving is an important occupation in villages on the
Ahmedabad - Bhavnagar highway.