Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Mutwa Embroidery, Dhordo, Gujarat

In the Banni village of Dhordo, we met an artist named Sofiya. She demonstrated the Mutwa style of embroidery that incorporated tiny, round mirrors that she cut, along with intricate stitching using the buttonhole and chain stitches. Motifs were mostly geometric, in keeping with Islamic rules forbidding depiction of human and animal forms. Even during this short demonstration, she had to stop a few times to tend to her young son. Therefore, it was understandable when she regrettably replied that she did not have any larger pieces to sell. Such exquisite stitch work is passed down from the mother and learned at an early age (5-7 years old), which is when a girl begins preparing dresses that she will embroider, as part of the dowry.

Due to the increasing salinity of the ground, receding of rivers, and loss of grasslands, the people of the region have shifted their main livelihood from cattle breeding (as well as ghee and butter products) to handicrafts. For such women, belonging to a cooperative where they can retain a higher percentage from their embroidery work becomes even more important.

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