Bhujodi weaving, a well-known craft from the Kutch region of Gujarat derives its name from “Bhujodi”; one of the oldest and biggest artisan villages. It is home to the Vankars (weavers) who weave a 500-year old story into every shawl, every blanket and every stole.
On a customary walk through the village you will find at least one loom in every home and the entire family comes together to partake in the weaving process. The speciality of the weave is how they use simple, geometric motifs to create a piece of art.
For years, the weavers of Bhujodi have created a harmonious barter system between themselves and the Rabari clan (cattle herders). The Vankars began to experiment with cotton (Kala cotton) that was sourced locally and naturally grown. However, the woven fabric served limited purposes to the weavers as it was extremely thick, but it allowed them to play around with colourful intricate designs. Over time, the narrow loom which was manually operated got an upgrade by adding a foot-over pedal and this considerably improved control on the shuttle movement. This undoubtedly eased the process of weaving which was otherwise a very tedious process.
Process of Bhujodi weaving.
The traditional Kutchi weaving was done on a vertical frame loom (Punja) but later horizontal pit looms were used. The horizontal loom has four paddles with a pit where the weavers rest their legs to operate the paddles. The process of Bhujodi weaving is called the “Extra Weft” technique where intricate patterns are all created using fingers by lifting the threads of warp and inserting a weft thread in between. A single weft thread is passed through to create patterns along the border and multiple threads of weft are used to form motifs on the fabric.
The women in the family prepare the warp for spinning the yarn on a local spinning wheel (charkha) and also assist in adding those final touches(embroidery & mirror work) once the men are done with weaving. Traditional colours commonly found in Bhujodi weaving are indigo, white, maroon, black and green, and shades of pink and grey depending on the intensity of the natural dyes. The uniqueness of this technique is the motifs woven are quite explicit and create a bold texture against the plain fabric which looks like embroidery.
Pic Courtesy: Garima A, Artisanscentre.com & Shutterstock
Motifs of Bhujodi.
The Bhujodi weave is rather generous with its use of simple geometric motifs such as triangles, stripes, diamonds, star shapes and chevrons. Most of their designs are created with linear patterns bestrewed with motifs that run throughout the body of the fabric.
For inspiration, the artisans do not have to look very far – their home state of Gujarat has a rich trove of forts and other famous architectural monuments that form the perfect backdrop for the Bhujodi designs. The patterns are original and characteristic to the Kutch style and are formed by specific motifs being repeated in various ways.
Some popular motifs found in Bhujodi weaving are:
Popati - is a simple motif of a triangle that repeats itself in various forms to create complex motifs
Chaumukh - four Popati motifs combined form this breath-taking motif.
Panjka - this motif is created by joining two opposite triangles in the middle.
Damroo - is a drum shaped motif
Jhaad – draws inspiration from nature and resembles a tree.
Khungri – is a motif designed to look like a ‘zig-zag’ line.
In addition, there are motifs such as Sachchi Kor, Lath, Sathkhani, Macchhar, Hathi, Vakiyo, which are inspired by village scenery.
The changing times.
Growing demand and changing tastes of consumers has pushed the Bhujodi weavers to think more creatively and push the boundaries of convention. The weavers now marry tradition and simple modernity to design products that are more contemporary.
Traditionally, the Bhujodi weavers preferred working with goat, sheep and camel wool but today they also work with other materials like silk, acrylic and cotton from across the country. They have also worked on expanding their product line moving away from only shawls and stoles to sarees, dupattas, cushion covers, bedsheets, and curtains. Constant refinement and innovation has helped Bhujodi weaving stand out from the rest and has garnered a lot of followers both in India as well as internationally.
Deepthi Velkur (@deepthi9844) is a Bangalore-based freelance digital content writer and mom to a busy 10-year old. Her writing credits include health and fitness magazines, running stories, and wedding planning articles. While redecorating her apartment she fell in love with home styling and now marries her love for home decor with writing.