Ancient Lac Dyeing Practices of Kachchh and its revival by the Vankar Shyamji Valji of Bhujodi

Ancient Lac Dyeing Practices of Kachchh and its revival by the Vankar Shyamji Valji of Bhujodi


The specific people Syamji bhai and I met to inquire about lac dyeing practices in Kachchh include: Mohammed Ismail Khatri from Ajrakpur, Umar Farooq from Bhadli, Soma Natha Rabari from Mamuara, Ali Mohammed from Chaubari, Abdul Sattar from Ajrakhpur, Yakub khatri from Kothada, Bhachaya bhai from Nirona, Pala Naga from Bhujodi. (Refer Map on the following page). The exercise of tracing the methods of lac dyeing, its applications, its availability and the communities involved, in different ways has lent greater insight and broadened the context for Shyamji bhai’s attempts towards its revival.
Kachchh has a remarkable history of the use of natural dyes, which is closely linked with the Khatris who are mainly a Muslim community of dyers in the region. They also pattern the fabric by means of resist printing or tie-dyeing, but their main skill is dyeing. One of the highly valued textiles called ‘Ajrak’ has been made here for the Maldharis or cattle herders’ communities since the time Khatris migrated from Sindh in the 16th century.1 But apart from that there were many dyed and printed textiles patronized by the local communities in Kachchh for which the Khatris made use of various natural materials; Madder, Indigo, Harada. Turmeric, Pomegranate peels, Desi Babool and black soil, are a few of them. In addition to this lac was used for dyeing wool.

The Khatris were dyers of cloth, but the expertise of yarn dyeing was a part of the weaver’s traditions. Although the latter mainly utilized natural colours of wool to pattern his fabric; he sometimes used coloured wool, which he dyed himself.

Advent of synthetic dyes almost wiped out the use of natural dyes by the seventies. It only survived in a few cases where efforts were made to revive the use of natural dye skills, like Dhamadka Mohommed bhai of Dhamadka made sure the skill of using natural dyes for patterning Ajrak is passed on to his sons even though the entire production was being done in chemical dyes. With increased awareness and consequent demand from urban clients, natural dye practices for Ajrak were revived. 2

Lac dyeing practice survived for a longer time than the other natural dye practices of the region due to its ease of application and availability. The Rabaris were very particular about the dark maroon colour on wool which was attained by lac. The women of the community also practiced the technique of dyeing with lac themselves and found it very convenient to use for it suited their nomadic lifestyle. It took sometime for synthetic dyes to reach them. However, it has been more than fifteen to twenty years since lac dyeing ceased to be practiced in Kachchh.

Vankar Shyamji Valji has been working with lac dyeing for the past five years in the spirit of reviving its use in Bhujodi textiles. He comes from a family of traditional Meghwal weavers, also called vankars from Bhujodi in central Kachchh. His village is centrally located and lies eight kilometers east of the town of Bhuj.

The Rabaris are Hindu pastoralists in Kachchh who associate wool with Lord Krishna3. They celebrate its sacred attribute by clothing themselves in it throughout the year. Apart from its religious connotation, wool also serves as an insulator in the desert heat. The men of most communities of Kachchh wear blankets of different kinds called dhabaras or khattas.
Almost all the traditional woolen textiles of Kachchh are woven in natural sheep wool colours and used without any post loom dyeing with exceptions such as the Rabari women’s’ unstitched draped garments. Lac in conjunction with other materials and techniques was used to dye woolen textiles worn by Rabari women up to the late eighties after which it was entirely replaced by acid dyes.

The women of the Rabari community can be distinguished by their use of dark coloured woolen veils called lodkis, and unstitched or draped lower garments called pernus which require post loom dyeing in shades ranging from maroon to black. The textiles woven for the women are made in natural off white sheep wool with extra weft patterning in cotton for the chheda or end piece, and a few cotton ends in the Kor or sevedge. It is interesting to see that this is done so that the cotton in kor does not take the dye that is meant for wool. Lac dye being acidic only dyes protein fibers.

The use of black is common to all the three subgroups of Rabaris in Kachchh who choose to wear it as a symbol of mourning for a king who died in a war. This limitation has allowed them to explore a variety of blacks that one can see in their dressing. It is not only in the dyed woolen textiles that we see different blacks but also in the mushru4 and the polyester imitations bought by them for their hand stitched blouses, from what is available in the market. It reflects their sense of aesthetics along with serving as a means of group identity.

The Rabaris eye for subtle nuances in colour along with a passion for pattern is reflected in their lodkis. The Rabari lodki varies from having a black ground patterned with maroon (of very subtle tone distinction) either tie-dyed or resist printed, to plain dyed maroons and blacks.

Each stage in a Rabari’s life is marked by the use of specific symbols or their absence of it in her lodki. The lodki for a new bride has symbols of peacocks and scorpions in a grid as symbols of fertility; the pattern is made with maroon dots using the technique of bandhani or tie resist dyeing. The lodki worn by young women and the newly married, sport bright red dots, which are replaced as they grow older, by the dark maroon dot barely visible against the black background. The widows wear a jhimi lodki that is plain dyed brownish maroon.

Rabari and Khatri lac dyeing practices
Although the Rabari women largely depend on the Khatris or the Muslim traditional dyers of Kachchh for the dyeing of both these unstitched woolen garments that require skill and expertise, very often they dyed their plain lodkis or pernus themselves. Practice of dyeing their own clothes is linked with their nomadic lifestyle especially of the Dhebaria Rabaris which does not allow them to be stationed and wait for the Khatris every time they had a new lodki /font> to be dyed.
In Kachchh lac is used with tamarind (Tamarindus Indica. Linn), which provides an acidic medium required to dye wool. 5 Lac available in form of cakes is crushed, pounded and soaked in water for a day or two. Tamarind of equal quantity or less is soaked in water for the same time as lac. The next morning the lac solution is boiled and tamarind added to it and left for an hour on the flame. When the solution makes a particular sound they know it’s prepared (the sound is associated to that of a thick viscous fluid as seera or porridge on flame). The woolen textile is then steeped in the dye bath and left for about half an hour, finally washed and dried.

 

If the lac is not pounded properly it does not mix completely in water and particles are visible in the dye bath. Umar Farooq’s6 hundred year old mother remembers that crushed lac was first soaked in water overnight to absorb most of the water, after which it was rubbed on an uneven stone surface the next morning to get a smooth paste which would dissolve well in water. This would give a clearer dye bath. She also recalled using lime for treating the lodki before dyeing in lac as lime softens the wool and removes the impurities.

Besides tamarind the Dhebaria Rabari women also added aamla (Phyllanthus Emblica & Emblica Officinalis) or Ambada/Amra (Spondias Mangifera) which made the maroon many shades darker. Making the dye bath more acidic allows more absorption of dye; the aamla in this case most likely increases the PH of the dye.

Lac dyed textiles of the Dhebarias of Eastern Kachchh indicate their preference for the darker shades of lac. Rabaris would also leave the lac dyed lodki in stagnant water over night to deepen the colour. The metal salt content of the soil imparts a black to the maroon. Some believe that an appropriate place for this purpose was a cow stable. Cow dung and urine in stagnant water provides perfect condition to make the lac dyed woolen shawl black. Pounded babul (acacia) beans were sometimes added to the stagnant water, which aided in turning the lac a deeper shade of black.

During our research it was found that the method of lac dyeing used by the Rabari women and the Khatris was similar. However there were many methods of getting blacks and dark browns, by using lac in combination with other materials. The technique used by the Khatris was more sophisticated than the ones used by the Rabaris or the Meghwals weavers. The latter developed indigenous ways to achieve the darkness they required.
The Khatri being traditionally skilled dyers used Indigo as a base with Lac to achieve colour close to black. The khatris usually had indigo vats in their houses as they used it all through the year. The lodki was dyed in Indigo first and then over dyed in Lac. In case of patterned lodkis first the pattern was resisted by means of tying or resist printing with mud or wax (as in the case of phulakia, figure), and steeped in Indigo vat. This was followed by opening the ties or washing off the resist, and finally dyeing the entire piece in lac. The areas that were resisted became maroon and the rest of the ground became dark brown or black with the overlapping of lac with Indigo. The blue of the Indigo was only visible in the cotton chheda and kor which did not take on the colour of lac.

Similarly the woolen pernus or the lower garments which are usually darker than the lodki, would require steeping in an Indigo vat before application of lac. The kor or border on either sides of a pernu usually has six cotton ends, which would take the Indigo but resist the lac dye.

The use of synthetic dyes replaced the natural Indigo and Lac but the blue of the Kor remains as an essential design feature of the pernu till today. Ali Mohammed Ahmed Khatri who has shifted from Chubari to Bhuj fifteen years ago, gave us an interesting piece of information regarding the blue kor of a Pernu. He informed that the Khatris had to daub the kor locally with blue camel ink or direct dye to satisfy the specifications of the Rabaris, who continued to be particular about the blue kor.

The cotton white ends in the Kor of the woolen lodki have been replaced by acrylic blue by the weavers in Adhoi where most of the lodkis are woven. This saves Khatris the trouble of daubing it blue these days.

 

A particular textile that Ismail Khatri of Ajrakpur remembers dyeing for the rabaris was the Dhebaria women’s dhabri, an unstitched lower garment, an example of which we found in an old quilt at Soma Nathas house in Mamuara, 20 kilometres east of Bhujodi. Old Dhebaria women can still be seen wearing it in eastern Kachchh.

The structure of a dhabri is standard and can be deciphered only by close observation. It’s cleverly done and reflects the ingenuity of its makers. Natural black sheep wool, white sheep wool and white undyed cotton are used collectively in the warp and weft to create a checked surface. The dhabri when dyed in lac imparts a maroon to the off white sheep wool.

The Meghwal Vankars and yarn dyeing
We met Pala Naga, 80 year old man from Vadva, 12 kilometres south of Bhujodi. His family shifted to Bhujodi about twelve years ago. He is a Marwada Meghwal and has been practicing weaving for several generations as Shyamjibhai’s family. He related the entire procedure of lac dyeing to us, which he remembers using for dyeing woolen yarns about fifty years ago. He could also recall using desi babool paan or acacia leaves to prepare a black dye.

The leaves are pounded and mixed with warm water and boiled together for two hours, and hirakashi is added. Hirakashi makes the solution acidic for the protein fibre to take the dye. The solution agitates when it becomes acidic. Yarn is steeped four to five times in the prepared dye bath. The proportions of the ingredients are ½ kilo desi babool leaves and six teaspoons of Hirakashi for one kilo of yarn.

After having seen the use of lac for woven cloth by the Khatri dyers and the Rabaris we will discuss some old textiles in which we found lac dyeing at yarn stage by the Meghwal Vankars. This is interesting because the Meghwal vankars hardly ever did any dyeing! The technique of lac dyeing used by them was similar to those used by the Rabaris. The cotton pagadi had lac dyed desi wool as extra weft bands in the chheda. (figure)

The Jaisalmera shawls have dark coloured border or kor and end piece or Chheda, for which either natural black or aapkara, or lac dyed wool was used. These days this shawl is being produced in waste wool or worsted wool brought from Bikaner.


It is some of these traditional pieces woven by the Meghwals that Shyamji bhai of Bhujodi derived his inspiration of revival of lac dyeing. Even when acid dyes came into the market, lac was continued to be used for a long time. The simultaneous usage would have been practiced in the seventies and eighties. Sometimes synthetic dyed desi wool yarns were used as accents with lac dyed yarns in the same pagadi .

 

Availability of lac
Among all the people we met, the Dhebaria Rabaris attributed the availability of lac to Pabu dada and even refused to believe that it is found on the trees or associated with an insect. A bhajan7 of the Dhebaria Rabaris talks about how ‘lac was brought to them by Pabu dada from a place called phoolwadi in Patan.’ The use of lac has been an important part of the Rabari community of Kachchh and it is not surprising to see how they see it as god’s gift to them.

Lac is an insect extract obtained from the parasite insect Kerria lacca that develops a resinous cocoon around itself, which serves to incubate the eggs she lays; it is found on trees in South Asia. Maximum portion of the lac is resin and a small percentage of it is the dye pigment.8 It is usually gathered when it dries on the tree, by cutting the branches that also dry up as the lac insect sucks all its nutrients over the months that it thrives on it.

Lac in Kachchh is found on branches of local trees like Neem (Azadirachta Indica ), Peepal (Ficus Religiosa), Desi Babul (acacia Catechu) and Ber (Zizyphus Jujuba). In Kachchh prior to the availability of the processed form of lac, it was collected in its natural form from the forests by communities such as the Kohlis.9

The present generations of Khatris in Kachchh remembers having bought lac in the form of cakes which refers to the processed form. It was available in the local markets of Bhuj, Mandvi and Anjar. Anjar seems to have been an important market where the Meghwal weavers and the Khatri dyers of the woolen products met up with the local traders. Anjar was also a central market for Dhebaria and Wagadia subgroups of Rabaris which are mostly spread all over eastern Kachchh.

Today lac is no longer available in Anjar. The influx of synthetic dyes has completely wiped out any trace of the natural dyes that were once sold here. Ismail Khatri of Ajrakhpur recalls that Lac cakes were sold in gunnysacks in huge quantities in Anjar market when he was a child, which would be some thirty years ago.

When Shyamji bhai of Bhujodi started working with Lac he found the local shop called Gandhi nu dukan which sells ayurvedic products in Bhuj, with fifteen year old stock of lac dye. It was available at Rs 120 for a kilogram. The period of availability of the processed form of lac in the market, and the places/sources from where it was brought into Kachchh is not very clear.

The Khatris, Rabaris or the Vankars were not able to give us much information about the availability of lac in the local forests. This information was mainly gathered from the Vadha community who apply the resinous part of lac on turned wood as a means of livelihood. This community is believed to have come upon lac in a Rabari’s house where they found the waste (resin part of the lac) after the dye had been separated from it. They say that the Rabaris used lac for dyeing much before the Vadhas used it’s for application on wood.

The Vadhas have a good eye for lac and can usually spot trees with lac formations. They also brought their own lac from the forest and separated the resin from the waste in water. The colouring matter of lac dissolves in water, but the resin being insoluble only floats on it. It was this property that the Vadhas and Rabaris used traditionally to separate the two and is still used in industrial processes. The Vadhas recall having allowed the Rabaris to use the red water for dyeing!

The village where the Vadhas are settled is called Nirona and falls in ‘Makpat’ belt of Kachchh, westwards of Bhuj. The area is named for its high ‘mak’ or mist through the year and it is believed that fog accelerates the lac formation process for the insect. This area is also known for maximum availability of lac in the region. The settlement of Vadhas here should be linked with the availability of lac. Now they procure their raw material, which is available in processed form from the Gandhi shop which sells ayurvedic and natural goods in the local bazaar. The source of lac is not disclosed by the shop keepers. The Vadhas find the industrially processed lac smoother to use than what they prepare themselves.

In our research we did not find any traces of lac having ever been cultivated in Kachchh. The consumption of the material to dye as told to us in the traditional methods is as much as the weight of the wool which implies a large amount. Therefore it is possible that it was brought into Kachchh as a part of larger trade. 10

Attempts towards revival of lac dyeing by Shyamji bhai and the Meghwal community of Bhujodi and his insights into his work
Awareness of the increasing interest of people across the world in the philosophy of natural dyes is one of the reasons Shyamjibhai started working with natural dyes. His own observations have been that acid dyes weaken the wool fibres over a period of time. In the last ten years he has worked with Madder, Alizerine, Anar or Pomegranate peels, Haldi or Turmeric, Kathha or Catechu for yarn stage dyeing. Having discovered the use of lac in old textiles made by the weavers of Bhujodi, he felt assured of its feasibility. He had also considered working with Indigo but realized that it would mean to entail expertise and skill. He has taken a conscious decision of working with lac as he finds it closer to his tradition. He has been working on it after the 2001 earthquake.

One of the important considerations he made while deciding to take up revival of lac dyeing was his cultural associations with the colour red. In Kachchh Kesariya, rato, ghudo and karo are local names for orange, red, and maroon and black respectively. If one observes by and large clothing of people in Kachchh has prominent use of red and maroon. With some yellow and green, the only exception where one sees blue is Ajrakh. The Ahirs wear a lot of bright red that is rato, the Meghwal and Maldhari skirts are usually ghedo, the Rabaris wear dark maroon and black.

Shyamji bhai’s work reflects an appreciation of the classical idiom (figure). When he talks of his approach to his new work he says

“When one refers to the old for new designs, one will never run short of possibilities”. He adds further by sayings that whatever he designs by looking at the old pieces always turn out good. He believes that he already has a very extensive repertoire of motifs or forms which he must look at to design the new. He gives an example of the durries designed by Prabha Shah in the seventeen in which she used the stripes of a pagadi, he says “it has been doing well for the last thirty years”.

While showing me an old traditional piece of an Ahir dhabala, he said that “the rhythm in the colours of the warp ends for the border is never altered”, and if he does make changes, it does not work as well as the original (Perhaps emphasizing the classicism of old designs).

When he examines traditional textiles he appreciates them for their visual balance and logic in the use of design elements. He defines the use of a kungri or a temple in a two piece Jaisalmera shawl as being a very clever solution to double the picks; a small width loom allowed a weaver to use two shuttles from both sides, and returning back to the respective side after interlocking at one point thus doubling the pick in the same shed. The Kungri also allowed pure black for the border.

A shawl, pagdi, saafa, dhabri, pernu all these products always used a Kor or a border and a chheda or an end piece, the proportions varied according to the end use of the product. He thinks a Kor defines the form.

He feels that traditional wisdom and knowledge must be carefully preserved and will reap new ideas for designs that are more sustainable. His endeavor to revive lac dyeing, and attempts to research the traditional methods practiced locally reflect such ideology.

Other than a design to be aesthetically beautiful to be a good design he believes “a design that could be woven by an average skilled weaver of my village and creates a good demand in the market is a good design”. He feels that in the past costing of products was not done. A lot of hidden costs like winding, warping, dyeing were never considered. This was because work was based on mutual understanding between families or communities. Only the quality was considered essential as the maker knew the consumer (shared a social bond). But now work patterns have changed, the weaver only has money in exchange for all the time he puts into the making of the product. Also a loom has an entire family to support, not just a single weaver. New products can be sold through a refined costing process; it will allow an increase in the income and eventually the wages of a weaver. Whereas the products that have been in the market for years already have a set price which is very difficult to alter.

Since the last fifteen years Shyamji bhai’s family has been working on highly intricate pieces which they send for national and international exhibitions and awards. These are one off pieces that are meant to reflect the weaver’s skills. According to him and he does not think of them to be superior designs than the ones that require average skills. But these rare pieces are done with involvement and care; the pieces reflect karigari of the craftsperson. The maker also experiences satisfaction in the entire process.But according to him Karigari is also expressed in average skilled products. He gave me an example of the selvedge or ‘lad’ which reflects karigari of a weaver.

“A karigar is the artisan or craftsperson the one who has the skill required to make a product ( karya is ‘work’ and gar is ‘to carry out’). But karigari is the manifestation of an artisan’s skill or expertise; it reflects his understanding and attitude towards his work”. He thinks ‘karigari’ was an essential feature of most products in the past because an artisan spent time with his work and was in connection with his client.

People who understand the nuances of weaving can easily judge if the piece has karigari or not. A weaver’s traditional clients the Rabaris were aware of the number of ends per inch that they would provide a perfect drape. But now clients have changed and so has the attitude of the weavers.

He considers himself to have had an edge over the others in terms of opportunities; he thinks of his family to have provided him that platform for exploration and experiment. He believes that many weavers of his village have the capability to design and be innovative, but experimentation on the loom is an expensive affair; also one has to be free from pressures. Most weavers are the only bread earners in a family which does not allow them to take out time for any inventiveness

 

Conclusion
I think working with lac dye is one of Shyamji bhai’s attempts towards revival of an old technique which does not essentially derive significance from its sophistication (from its processes like Ajrak does) but more for the way in which it reflects social aspects of communities and links within the same. And it has been interesting to inquire into the lac dyeing practices of the region, it reveals very interesting patterns that have developed over centuries as interdependence has been a way of life in Kachchh like other parts of rural India. It seems difficult to be able to imagine such interconnectedness between people, nature and sustainable systems of work. Belief systems that are either due to religious or cultural impacts play a crucial role in shaping traditions and also a community’s aesthetics.

Shyamji bhai’s attempt is at its preliminary stages. I think there are many issues that will have to be dealt with if lac dyeing for textiles is to be revived for production by the weavers in Bhujodi and subsequently other parts of the country. The primary concern is that the raw material is not available in the local markets and no more procured from the surroundings. In most probability it will require to be sourced from other parts of the country like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Assam and West Bengal where the cost of processed lac is very high. The lac that shyamjibhai has brought from Chhatisgarh for his experiments costs Rs 1000 for a kilogram (Figure). The traditional methods that Shyamjibhai is using involve high lac consumption which would eventually make lac dyed products expensive.

The old technique may lend some interesting ideas for developing a self sustained system of production. According to our research the Makpat belt of Kachchh does have a large quantity of lac; there is a possibility that it be obtained from there and locally used for dyeing. This will need further research and surveys. But will be interesting if a self reliant system is developed like the old system. Also in India, lac is mainly used to obtain resin or ‘shellac’ (mainly exported) through aqueous extraction in industrial processes where lac dye is a by product that is allowed to run to waste. This is for its negligible demand. Lac is cultivated mainly for its Shellac. (ref internet) If lac dye practices are revived at a larger scale, with increase in demand, it is possible that the dye pigment in the industrial process is also set aside and made available for trade at competent rates.


Shayamji Bhai and Bhujodi
Due to its ease of access and highly skilled population of weavers, Bhujodi has been the main centre for interaction with the outside world through trade and tourism, which has prominently increased over the last three to four decades. Bhujodi has experienced the impact of some of the most significant transforms in Kachchh (Since attaining independence in 1947), which include the state interventions, introduction of new technologies, exposure to national and international trade and tourism, restriction of free movement to Sindh. Shyamji bhai’s family with a few others has been actively involved with all the changes that have taken place in Bhujodi and have affected the weaving trade of the village.

Till the late nineteen sixties most of the weaving in Bhujodi as other craft practices in Kachchh was carried out for the local market which consisted of many different communities. In the case of Bhujodi it meant the Rabari population of the village itself. 11 When the demands of woolen shawls in the urban market started sustaining the entire weaver community, the weavers seized to serve the traditional market for its uncertainty and small quantity. By the eighties Bhujodi only catered to urban market. The local people in turn got their products woven from further away weaving centres like Adhoi in Bhachau (ref. Map). 12

New market with their own aesthetics and economic capabilities shaped the kind of work that was produced in Bhujodi by the late seventies. In this entire transformation various people including a few weavers were instrumental in making sure that the weaving traditions are not lost completely. Amongst such visionaries was also Vishram Valji, father of Shamji bhai. (Most of Shyamji bhai’s strengths are derived from his father who he respects a great deal). To strike a balance between retaining long-established idiom of Bhujodi weaving, and at the same time working towards the new market demands, was a challenge faced by the weavers. It seemed like weavers were conscious of the impact of implementation of new technologies, new materials and designs; decisions were taken with caution and maturity.

Shyamjibhai is thirty two years old and also a graduate in arts from Bhuj University. He is a weaver, designer and entrepreneur. He has worked with a range of new materials like Tussar, Eri, Muga, Mulberry, cotton, and finer count yarns, and also experimented with introduction of new products in the last ten years of his work. He is aware of the significance of natural dyes in the global scenario. Lately he has been grappling with the idea of how value additions in the Bhujodi products could bring about better wages and improve the economic stability of the weavers. He is of the view that the setting up of many new industries in Kachchh has resulted in the opening of innumerable job opportunities for common people, and the craftsmen are bound to resign to other means of income if their traditional skills don’t fetch them adequate money to serve the needs of their family.

Shyamji bhai’s endeavor for revival of lac dyeing is also based on his deep respect for traditional knowledge and skills. He has collected a range of old textiles from Kachchh, and draws inspiration from them for new design ideas.
Historical Timeline, Bhujodi

1945 - 40 to 50 looms worked for the local communities of Rabaris, Kanbis and Ahirs in Bhujodi

1945 - A sammelan was organized in Bhuj to discuss the problems faced by the weavers. Weavers were issued identity card/ration cards to be able to buy woolen yarns directly from the government at low rates.

1961 - Introduction of fly shuttles by means of a training program, Khadi Gram Udhyog sold fly shuttles at fifty percent rebate so most looms in Bhujodi were equipped with the new mechanism

1965 - Introduction of mill spun 2/32’s Indian Merino, brought from Nagpal Mills, Mumbai

1975 - Prabha Shah worked with crafts of Kachchh for her Mumbai based Export Company and commissioned a lot of work for her urban clientele.

1975 - Gujarat Rajya Hasta Shilp Vikas Nigam was established, opened an office in Bhuj, it would buy the products from craftsmen to ensure work, designers like Krishna Amin Patel from National Institute of Design came to Bhujodi for design development with the weavers to be marketed through Gurjari.

Mr Bhasin director of Gurjari was active in Bhujodi. He introduced a rug weaving technique in Bhujodi, most production for that is done in Kandherai another village near Bhojodi.

1976 - All India Handicraft Board introduced craftsmen to Handloom fairs and also sponsored them

1976 - Setting up of Calico museum brought researchers like Jyotindra Jain and others to Bhujodi. Weavers were also called to exhibit in Ahmedabad

1979 - The first handloom fair attended by Vishram Valji in this year, and continued thereafter

1980 - Introduction of 2/60’s Acrylic yarns from Ludhiana

1995 – Introduction of 2/60’s millspun merino from Ludhiana for demand of lightweight woolen products from the international market

2006 - Number of weavers is 200, with 120 working looms

Endnote
  1. The tradition of Ajrak printing and dyeing is mainly from Sindh and it is still practiced there.

  2. The products changed from lungis or men’s loincloth to scarves and yardages. The natural dyed Ajrak is not used by the local communities due to its high cost.

  3. Hindu mythological god

  4. Mushru is a warp faced satin weave woven in patan, Gujarat

  5. When lac was replaced by acid dyes in the market, the Rabaris continued to use tamarind instead of acid with the chemical powders as it was safer for them to carry it while traveling.

  6. Umar Farooq is a traditional dyer in Bhadli western Kachchh, dyes lodkis and pernus for Rabaris since the last four generations, but now caters to the urban market

  7. Most old Dhebaria Rabari men know of the Paabudada bhajan

  8. ‘The dyestuff from lac is obtained by aqueous extraction of sticklac; the resinous residue is further processed to "seedlac" and to the fully refined "shellac"’.

  9. There was barter system in the past; the forest gatherers would exchange their gathering with a useful textile product from the Khatris or for grains from the local merchants. Lac would have formed a part of such merchandise within Kachchh.

  10. Historically India has been a major exported of lac dye. Even during the British rule, the East India Company engaged lac cultivators to produce lac dye for them to send to Europe. But lac lost its world market with the invention of synthetic dyes in mid-nineteenth century. Its local use lasted till the early twentieth century. Lac was also produced in Burma and south India. But among foreign buyers Bengal Lac was in the greatest demand. Lac was exported both in twigs packed in gunny bags and in the cake form. Twig-Lac was obviously cheaper than cake-Lac.


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