Gujarat produces a wide range of textiles that are intricately linked to its past; and generations upon generations of acculturation has meant that this legacy still continues.
This distinctive tie-and-dye work is characterised by patterns on vibrant backgrounds, created by pinching and pushing small portions of the fabric into small points, and knotting and twisting them with the help of thread. The fabric is then dyed in different shades of colour, thereby leaving the knotted parts uncoloured.
Where to buy: Many markets in Gujarat's cities and towns stock bandhani work. Apart from Ahmedabad, the best place to pick them up would be stores in Kutch.
The double ikkat style used to create Patola saris is one of the most difficult forms of weaving in the world. The warp and weft threads are carefully dyed before weaving, according to a pre-designed pattern. The weaver then aligns the threads on the loom, which naturally creates a unique combination of geometric delineation with soft hazy outlines. It takes four to six months to make one sari – the colouring of the threads takes about 70 days, while the weaving takes about 25 days. The precision and high levels of skill required of Patola artists gives them enough reason to put a high price on their work, and to zealously guard their trade secrets.
Where to buy: Head to Patan to see the weavers make the saris.
The Varghi community in Gujarat makes the textile, also known as Matani Pachedi. The designs are made by employing various techniques including block printing and painting. The design is dominated by motifs of Durga in her various forms and avatars and depicts a narrative story. Due to its block printing technique, this art form is also called the Kalamkari Matani Pachedi, similar to the Kalamkari in Pedana, Andhra Pradesh.
Where to buy: The Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad is a great place explore the Matani tradition. Many stores in Ahmedabad stock this, as do the Garvi Gurjari emporiums.
The Dhamadka and Ajrakhpur areas of Kutch are famous for the hand block printing technique of Ajrakh. Cotton cloth is first dyed in a single colour, after which several hand-carved blocks are used to print beautiful designs on it. The Matani Pachedi is also a form of Ajrakh printing. The Saudagiri prints from Ahmedabad and the Batik prints from Bhuj also come under the umbrella of Ajrakh.
Where to buy: The best places to buy Ajrakh prints are the places where they are made. Ahmedabad has many centrally-located stores that sell the textile. And the Gujarat state emporiums are a great bet too.