Gujarat Handicrafts and textiles reflect a love of Colour, an eye for design and form. They are the expression of an initial artistic personality and rich cultural heritage. The state excels in both quality and design of textiles, traditional and modern. The larger variety mills are combined to produce a rich mingling of colours and textures.
The widest spectrum of woven fabrics are found in the resist technique. These range from patola, double ikat, to the bandhej tie and dye the woven mashru and the resist or resist or rescrved printing on cotton and silk.
Patolu and patola are the terms normally used in Gujarat for art of silk weaving with design in double ikat i.e. for fabrics where the wrap and weft threads are coloured in section by tie dying before weaving and are then woven to form intricate multi-coloured designs. Today, Patan Patola is one of the finest hand woven textiles produced. Besides, Patan the double ikat is found only in Bali in Indonesia.
Mashru, a mixed fabric, woven with a combination of cotton and silk, was essentially for the use of Muslim men as there was a prohibition on their wearing pure silk. The tradition of mashru may have been influenced by weaving tradiions prevalent in Iraq and the Arab countries where the habits were strictly adhered to Mashru was woven all over india, though it survives today only in Gujarat.
The brocades has a distinct style of weaving of silk satin cloth, gold brocading with coloured threads on the borders and in the lay technique in some cases. They carried traditional patterns of popat vel, stylized parrot flower border, jhardh, jhardh, flowering strub or tree motiff or the mango and ashorfi curcular gold coin. Today only ismple ashorfi brocade used in the rural areas is woven in Mehsana district of Gujarat.
The tied and dyed fabrics, known as bandhej or bandhani, of saurashtra and kutch are perhaps the finest produced in India. Amongst these, the most intricate and refined styles are to be found in Jamnagar, Bhuj and Mandavi. Jamnagar bandhej is produced on superfine cotton mulmul and muslim, sometimes combined with gold checks and motifs worked in Jamdani technique.
The Mandavi and Bhuj work is on silk with a woven gold border, had motifs embroidered in gold wire known as badla. Since the designs were circular and on a blue black background, they were known as chandrakhani or moonshaped.
The oldest known patterned fabrics from India are from Gujarat. They are resist dyed and printed cottons excavated at Fostate. Which was the centre of distribution of Indian printed cotton to the west. Their stylic delineation of the patterns was based on the decorative styles of west Indian paintings and designs.
Pechedi made by the vaghris for ritual purpose used a combinations of block printing for the outline of the pattern and the painting of the mordants. The dominant motif is of the mother Goddess in her many forms and aspects.
Gujarat has the most vibrant, fine and varied collection of embroidery to be found in any part of India. The movement of pastoral no made and their settlement in different parts of Gujarat gave a wide variation in embroidery styles. Strong class and community instincts maintained the distinct style. Kutch in North Western Gujarat, and Saurashtra in western Gujarat have the finest embroidery and variety of styles.
Specimens of folk tradition, with its bold and igorous patterns and colours, are made by peasant women for their own use. It is this embroidery which even today enriched the life of the people of Kutch and Saurashtra.