When I want to take a trip down memory lane, I make my way to my closet, and open the chest, which includes all those wonderful things from my childhood. There is a doll wearing that stunning Gota patti lehenga that my favorite aunt gifted me. I was so in love with that lehenga that my mom got a similar one tailor-made for me to wear at my school play. I even have pictures of me proudly flaunting my gold medal that I won for the performance. Some memories are priceless!
Very recently, when I was out scouting for a scarf for my tunic; I happened to chance upon an exquisite Gota patti dupatta. I was in for a pleasant surprise! I was happy to see the Gota patti or ‘Aari-tari’ (as it is also known) trend making its way back into the market from the 80’s. But this time I noticed a positive change in terms of quality.
India is one of the largest textile-producing hubs in the world. The industry upholds a vivid tapestry of the country’s cultural heritage. There is a tale woven in each fabric, imparting the reflection of the region from where it comes.
The Gota patti is a kind of appliqué work using metallic ribbons that was devised by the artisans residing in the Nayla district of Rajasthan. The art of Gota patti was facilitated to match with the ‘Kundan’ or ‘Meenakari’ jewelry that was often adorned by the royalty. This was then further patronized in the Mughal era giving impetus to the clusters to move around the state of Rajasthan, training the youth and perfecting the art for generations to follow. The applique work has ornamented both men’s and women’s couture. Today, we see the inventive incorporation of ‘gotapatti’ designs on western outfits too.
One can find the most stunning Gota patti work done in various parts of Rajasthan. Some of these destinations include Kota, Bikaner, Ajmer, and Udaipur. With the help of the ribbons artisans create bewitching, nature-inspired patterns. Some of these include florets, leaves, royal motifs (as was often created by artisans in the Mughal era.), temples and chariots. Simple bands panning diagonally across the cloth (especially on the tie-die variations) enhances the beauty of the fabric.
Gota Patti work done on one of our stunning lehengas
The Gota patti work incorporates the use of gold, silver and bronze (famously known as Rose gold) ribbons. The ribbons involve the use of metal-coated filaments on the weft yarn, and the wrap includes the cotton or polyester filaments. One can avail of an array of ribbons involving a variety of wraps and wefts to create ingenious designs using different knots and folds. The ribbons are inexpensive and cost as much as Rs. 1000/- a kilogram. With evolving technology, one can avail of maintenance free variations that don’t fray easily. Offer types of embroidery that are similar to the ‘Gota patti’ since they use a metal type of filament are ‘Badla’ work and ‘Zardozi’ work.
- ‘Badla’ is a technique whereby a very lean metal-coated filament is used to create; what appears to look like golden or silver dots on the cloth. The use of this technique makes the garment look stunning. The ‘Badla’ is often incorporated on lightweight fabrics like chiffon. They make for stunning dupattas. A simple dupatta that incorporates badla transforming the look of your garment, giving it a formal look.
- The ‘Zardozi’ work involves the intricate embroidery done in gold or silver. The ‘Zardozi’ work can prove to be heavy and is often done on silk. Artisans avoid using lightweight fabric when embroidering using ‘Zardozi’ work.
The artisans use simple tools like a wooden frame, a needle, thread and an ‘ari’- hook. The frame is very important. The fabric is first stretched onto the frame before the applique work in applied. Even today, artisans function in groups, under the watchful eye of a senior craftsman. Sometime the entire family is involved in crafting these bewildering creations, restricting the same to a family business.
Competition is very stiff out there. Artisans are forced to sell their wares to dealers at trifling rates while retailers enjoy substantial returns. Even today, in some pockets these artisans are ruthlessly exploited by brokers; giving them little for the hours invested to create the stunning piece of work. This insolvent exchange has compelled artisans to give up on the art form, and take to a different métier.
In 2007, when the ‘Make in India’ campaign was launched, most of these clusters came under the watchful eye of the government. The government has also taken the initiative to help craftsmen upgrade their skill from time to time. They have employed specialists, who impart training with government recognized, certified course at a minimal fee.
Image credit: Fashion & Fabrics
They also train men and women from scratch, encouraging them to take to the art form. Some artisans have positively benefitted from the program, as they are able to sell their wares directly to the retailers, without the involvement of the broker; earning desired rates. The ‘Make in India’ campaign has helped them open avenues; taking their creations across to foreign shores.
The campaign also has its flip side too. While the government has managed to resurrect the lives of a lot of these artisans, there are many who fall victim to the tenacious clutches of corruption.
Our hearts go out to all these artisans at Kyra and Vir, and we will do all that we can to support them and uplift their lives for the better. It’s our endeavor to keep these crafts alive for the generations to follow, and also significantly help artisans.
Written by Heer Kothari