Thursday 19 March 2015

Kutch Travelogue- Part 2

Having completed the Bhujodi wall-art, it was now time to spruce up the dining area in Khamir. Khamir, which is an organization, working to promote Kutchi arts and crafts, has a beautiful campus, with earthy, mud structures. 
Sunrise at Khamir

Earthy buildings at Khamir
My room too was very comfortable. Every morning and the 3 evenings which I got to spend at Khamir, I had a ritual. There is a tree right near the entrance, with more thorns than leaves, which a colony of cute sparrows had made their home. At sunrise, they start chirping in chorus and it’s so loud, it can be heard from a distance. When I walked up to the tree, the first time, I giggled hard to notice that for a second, all the 100 odd sparrows on the tree, stopped chirping at once, as if on mute, and looked down at me, with the expression “Who is this intruder? “.And every morning that I went they would do the same. There were so many nests as well and sometimes I would try and resolve fights and arguments between them, many times unsuccessfully. I spotted a lot of sunbirds, tailor birds and others, which I couldn’t identify.

The tree of sparrows
The wall-art at Khamir was a cake walk after the Bhujodi one. The Director, Meera, wanted pottery motifs to be included in the design and the first thing that came to my mind was an image of a tortoise. And I was surprised to learn later that the word 'Kutch' has been derived from the word "kachbo" meaning tortoise in Gujarati, owing to the flat, tortoise shaped land that forms the district of Kutch. You may view the pictures of the wall-art at Khamir here.

A motif I painted on the wall at Khamir

I also had the opportunity to go around the different studios at Khamir, dedicated for different crafts like, block printing with natural dyes, pottery, plastic weaving (to recycle plastic), cloth weaving, etc.

Can you count the sparrows?
The day before I was to leave I decided to explore a bit of Bhuj and do some shopping. And what did I buy? I bought some clothes and jewelry which nomads, the Rabaris wear. I really hope I do wear these things at least once. In a shop that I bought these from, on display were exquisite and rich pieces of embroidery done around 10 to 25 yrs ago. The Rabaris have a tradition of teaching their young girls embroidery from the early age of ten and she is supposed to make her wedding trousseau herself, which then goes as dowry. The richer and more complicated the embroidery, the higher is their status. Since dowry is no longer given, many Rabaris have been selling their embroidered pieces to shops like these to make money. I remembered that I used to barely pass in Needlework in school and was happy that I wasn’t a Rabari girl.

Richly embroidered skirts
The morning I was to leave, I walked up to the tree with sparrows and bid them farewell with a promise to be back soon. Yes, another or more visits are due to feast on the art that Kutch has to offer. I had not even scratched the surface of exploring Kutchi art, I realized. I did not experience what I went looking for, but my life is richer now in terms of the experiences I had and lessons learnt. 

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