BUHJ, Gujarat, India
Circa mid-late 20th century Hindu DHEBARIA RABARI KANJARI (backless blouse) of the highest quality. A fine collector’s item. “The importance and rarity of these pieces has escalated since they are some of the last pieces of traditional Dhebaria embroidery available. In 1995 the Dhebaria elders banned hand embroidery, deeming it "too expensive." Today, among Dhebarias there is a prohibitive fine for making or even using these precious textile arts.” (Source: Powerhouse Museum)
The fine orange velvet backing is virtually covered completely with hand-embroidered closed square chain stitch and a blinding array of SHISHA mirror work. Strong bright colours in predominantly yellow, red, green, white and black with the circular breast patterns prominent to accentuate their life-giving power. Highlighted with white buttons and multi-coloured cotton twisted ties to close the KANJARI at the back, again accentuated with buttons. An amazing and wonderful example of the skill of these women artisans and of a quality not done today.
Traditionally RABARI are camel herders and wanderers and are known for their 'Rabari Bharat' (embroidery),especially in Kutch, Gujarat. Rabari embroidery is very vigorous, with many bold shapes. Designs are taken from mythology and from their desert surroundings. Rabari live in small hamlets of round huts with mud walls and thatched roofs. The women manage the hamlets and are shrewd and intelligent. They sell wool and clarified butter to city merchants and manage all money matters. The women are usually strong, beautiful, tall and well built. The Rabari men can often be seen roaming the countryside with their droves. They travel hundreds of miles on annual migration routes in search of new pastures to graze their animals. Rabari girls can be married as young as 15-months old.