I haven’t had much time to post lately, due to pressures of the day job. So I thought I’d better try to get down some more memories of India, while they’re still (reasonably) fresh.
The Meghwal tribal people are originally from Pakistan, but many of them live in Kutch.
We visited the village of Bhirandiyara, a collection of circular and hexagonal bungha huts made from a mixture of mud, buffalo dung and sawdust. Apparently, during the big earthquake that devastated much of the area in 2001, this traditional architecture managed to survive while many modern buildings collapsed.
Some of the roofs are thatched with bamboo and grass, but as you can see, many now have clay roof tiles, which obviously last longer (though may cause more damage in an earthquake).
The inhabitants also decorate the interiors with mirrored reliefs, and even build cupboards in the same mixture of mud, dung and sawdust.
The village lives off the handicrafts it sells, and every hut seems to have beautiful embroidered hangings on display both inside and out.
What surprised me was that the women do still wear the heavily embroidered backless aprons that they sell, over very full (often bandhani) skirts. They are accessorised by glittery headcoverings, elaborate nose rings and dozens of bangles on the upper arms as well as the wrists.
One of the villagers told us that the Meghwal are known for pakko embroidery, which literally means “solid” – and you can see how almost every inch of the fabric is covered with stitching. The most common stitches are chain, double buttonhole, stain and fly, supplemented with mirrors, tassels and pompoms.
We bought one of the aprons, here modelled by the embroiderer herself.
We were also tempted by another piece, but budgetary constraints meant we had to leave it behind to tempt another buyer another day!