Woven Ornamentation

Woven Ornamentation

Solitary loom-craft from Bhujodi

More like an extended part of Bhuj in Gujarat, just 8 kms away, the village of Bhujodi is famously know as the textile hub of Kutch, where the Vankars have been weaving 500-year-old stories into every piece of textiles that comes off their looms.  A traditional form of handloom weaving that has a rich history and cultural significance. Each shawl, blanket, lungi and fabric woven here is beauty crafted by the Vankars with an indigenous technique in hand practicing the extra weft ornamentation in textiles for generations.

Entwined and hand woven with the eternal bond of ancient traditions and colourful threads, Bhujodi is home of over 250 Vankars (Weavers) of Kutch, originally from the Marwada and Maheswari communities are said to be migrated from Rajasthan. The Maheshwaris transitioned into the art of mashroo weaving, while the Marwada style is now well known as Kutchi weaving. Each weaver was once personally linked with a Rabari family, who would barter hand-spun yarn from cattles along with grain & milk products, for their weaves. Weavers used these yarns for colourful patterned weaves to make veils, skirts, shawls and blankets for the Rabaris in exchange.


Rabari Kutchi Man wearing Dhabda woven in Bhujodi
Dhabda’ – a term in local language are shawls made for the Rabaris, woven in two separate parts and then sewn together. It would keep them protected from the harsh & cold winters in the region. Earlier, these weavers also made traditional headgear, a style of turban know as ‘Dhotali’ in maroon-green colour and later white  and the Ahirs preferred the colourful attire.
Pic : Shamji Valji on 30stades.com




Traditional handloom in Bhujodi village of Kachchh


Traditionally, Kutchi weaving was carried out on a panja or a vertical frame loom. The basic structure of the loom remained the same, but it evolved to a more convenient model with time while a traditional charkha is used for spinning of the yarn. Bhujodi weaving too is done on traditional pit looms in the weavers' homes that has the shuttle movement controlled by a foot-over pedal, as against the slow process of passing it through the warp manually.

The intricate patterns are all created by physically lifting up the threads of the warp with the fingers without a ‘Dobby’ or ‘Jacquard’ and the ‘Athh tako’ technique (with four peddles in the loom) is unique, and then manually inserting the extra weft thread to form the motifs and designs. Sometimes, a single weft thread is passed through for border patterns and multiple thread are used to form the motifs.


Artisan manually crafts motifs on a loom during weaving,that looks like an embroidery of a Chakor Bhujodi saree
The entire process is like creating embroidery on a loom, which is why it is highly time-consuming and requires skill and patience. It is a collective effort by the family, where the women are actively involved in preparing the yarn of the warp and winding bobbins needed for the motifs, while the laborious process of weaving is left to the men. The craftsmen train their children to weave from a very early age. The children learn by watching their elders at work and also by helping out. Weaving as a process goes around the year apart from the rainy season, when work hits a lean because of practical reasons.


Traditionally into making of blankets & woollen shawls using sheep and camel yarns, the ‘Vankars’ have experimented with cotton and other yarns, as a result over the years the fabric got finer with speed and variety of yarns available. The motifs however remained traditional and characteristic of communities. The designs created into Kutchi woven fabrics were inspired by the communities who wore them, replicating the simplified shapes of musical instruments, the footsteps of an animal herd, etc. It is said that the motifs are inspired by the architectural elements of the carved structures of forts and historical monuments. The names for motifs like vakhiyo, chaumukh, satkani, taarlo, meeri or dholki are evocative of the rural images.


Closeup of handweaving detail of a Saree from Chakor's Beloved Bhujodi Collection
The signature element of these Vankars is how simple, usually geometric motifs are arranged aesthetically and then woven into the fabric using a special technique. The base of the fabrics or shawls is usually plain or with striped or a checkered pattern and the texture and colour is see on the extra weft motifs. The piece of textile is usually adorned with intricately woven borders on the ends and finishing of the shawls or stoles is done using colourful tassels, which is a characteristic feature of the Kutchi weaving.


Earlier the yarn, whether cotton or woollen, is dyed in rich shades of natural colours that provides an earth look and feel. The interesting fact about the woollen shawls feels warm in winter, it also keeps one cool in the summer, when the fabric is loosely woven making it airy and comfortable

While some wool from locally grown sheep is still used, they also procure silk from Bangalore, acrylic from Ludhiana, wool from Barmer and cotton from Ahmedabad, to cater to the increasing demands. The fine cotton has enabled them to create more intricate and colorful designs. Such pieces may have 70 threads per square inch instead of the usual 24. Weaving of a piece may take days to months, depending upon the intricacy and newness of the design.

Today various products Sarees, stoles, home furnishing products along with shawls and carpets are made in contemporary styles using fine cotton, organic kala cotton, tussar silks and wool. Many of the pieces have further ornamentation done on the surface like mirror embroidery in addition to the tassels which make these even more appealing and interesting and enhance the beauty of hand weaving even more.

In 2001, Kutch was devastated by a massive earthquake where Bhujodi and surrounding places were severely hit. Old connections between landowners, sheep herders, weavers, dyers and others were broken along with their setups. While Kutch was sweating and toiling to get back to its feet organisations like  Kala Raksha Vidhayala - a design institute and Khamir - a registered Society and Public Trust, made a remarkable contribution by extending their support and co-operation to artisans and weavers in craft revival.

Today, the Vankars of Bhujodi have not only become entrepreneurs in their work by they are also recognised internationally as well.

Not relying too much on today’s education system, the vankars train their future weavers from a very tender age. Growing around the traditional looms in the household, the kids learn by seeing, even before they develop conscience.

Though there is a challenge, Bhujodi weaving is a craft that requires high levels of concentration and expertise. It is a physically strenuous craft that requires the craftsman to hunch over his loom for days together. This causes health concerns like sore arms, poor eyesight and stomach problems. This is a big cause of worry for the weavers.

The craft is time consuming as it takes more than a fortnight of hand weaving at a stretch, all the warp put around the drum at once. The weaver has to handpick the warp and weft from memory and any error will mean starting the entire process all over again. 

The intricate designs and high-quality materials used in Bhujodi weaving have made it a popular choice among fashion designers and consumers, both in India and around the world. Today, Bhujodi weaving continues to be an important part of the local economy, and efforts are being made to promote and preserve the art form for future generations. With its eco-friendly practices and commitment to quality, Bhujodi weaving is a true gem in the world of textile arts.

In recent years, Bhujodi weaving has also gained recognition as an eco-friendly alternative to mass-produced textiles. The use of natural dyes, indigenous cotton, and handloom weaving techniques make Bhujodi weaving a sustainable and environmentally-friendly option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and support local artisans. The Kutchi shawls have also received the GI tag (Geographical Indication) which signifies their unique origin and traditional craftsmanship. This recognition assures consumers of the authenticity and distinctiveness of Bhujodi weaving, reinforcing its cultural heritage and promoting the livelihoods of local artisans.

Bhujodi textiles have gained recognition both nationally and internationally for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship. They have been showcased in prestigious exhibitions and fashion shows, drawing attention to the artistry and cultural significance of Bhujodi craft.

Bhujodi craft stands as a testament to the rich textile traditions of Kutch and the skill and dedication of its artisans. The intricately woven textiles with their vibrant colors and traditional designs are treasured for their beauty, warmth, and cultural heritage.

Weaver working on handloom in Bhujodi, KutchNanji bhai Marwada working on the loom

Nanjibhai is a keen artificer and enjoys his passion for the weaves. He is the master behind our signature collection who has translated our ideas and designs into the beautiful handwoven sarees through his skills, perseverance and determination.

Shop Chakor’s Beloved Bhujodi - a collection of stunning handwoven sarees

Leave your comments and questions below!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.