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Handwork in Gujarat

Gujarat is located in the north west of India.

Many parts of Gujarat feature a desert climate. Yarns and fabrics are not easy to come by and so for the people who live here, these items are highly valued.

Since resources are limited, every piece of material on hand is utilised. In skilled hands, each and every piece of cloth is carefully used up and the result can be seen in many different forms of everyday items for the home or articles of clothing.

For this edition of Found MUJI, we explore the charm of a wide range of Gujarat handworks, from stitch-work applied to fabric to dyeing techniques that have been handed down unchanged from generation to generation.



Stitching: Quilts

Quilts are crafted by the women of nomadic desert tribes. Such quilts are used as rugs, furniture coverings or simply to wrap items with in order to protect them from sand and dust.

Carefully stitching together multiple layers creates a strong cloth, and these are handed down for generations. The rows of fine, uneven stitch-work running back and forth across the fabric create beautiful textures.




Stitching: Mirror Work

Women in Gujarat wear sarees adorned with small mirrors. The mirrors reflect in the sun, helping the women to be spotted across the desert expanses. This kind of handcraft tells of the wisdom of the people living in the desert.




Tie-Dye: Bandhani

In Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, this type of tie-dyeing is called bandhani. Practiced in India since ancient times, this technique is commonly used when making the saree. Patterns handed down over generations vary by family and region, each having developed their own styles.




Dyeing: Indigo

Indigo dyeing is also well known in Japan as aizome. The Japanese word for indigo is a generic term for all plants that produce blue dyes. More specifically, indigo used in Japan is Persicaria tinctoria, a flowering plant in the buckwheat family, while in India Indigofera suffruticosa, a plant from the legume family is used.

Indigo dyeing has a long history. Fragments of dyeing vats have been found in the ruins of the Indus Valley civilisation.

Yarn is dipped in large vats of indigo, exposed to the air and then dipped again for another round of dyeing. These steps are repeated to bring forth the bright and vivid blues. Lined up in rows, each indigo vat develops its own ‘personality’. The element of handcrafting results in unique expressions of colour and character.

Indigo dye is literally a ‘living’ thing. If left uncared for, the dye will stop producing appealing colours, so the vats of dye are carefully tended by master dyers on a regular basis.

*This product is made in the state of Kerala.





Papermaking: Cotton Paper

Recycled paper in India is made from cloth. Fabric off-cuts from clothing manufacturers are finely shredded, drained evenly then dried, eventually taking the form of paper. This is a technique which shows the respect that Indian culture has towards handwork and this helps to minimise waste as much as possible.




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