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PATEL mid-late 20th century embroidered CHOLI (backless blouse), Gujarat India

PATEL mid-late 20th century embroidered CHOLI (backless blouse), Gujarat India


Striking mid-late 20th century CHOLI (backless blouse) made and worn by Hindu PATEL village woman in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India.

Highly embroidered clothing is worn during special events, festivals and weddings.Possibly recycled old embroidery and made with cotton and polycotton base fabrics, heavily embroidered in circular patterns at the breasts with HOORMUTCH (interlacing) stitch seen in Megwar tribal communities as well as buttonhole stitch on a base of bright blue cotton on the front and red cotton for sleeves. NOTE secret pocket on breast. Fantastic graphic sleeve design in yellow, white, greens, pink, purple, black and orange with virtually the entire base fabric covered in embroidery. Plain black inserts under arms. Blue blinding. Quite roughly machine-sewn together and right underarm/back section unfinished (see photo).

Patels represent a large section of the population of Gujarat state in India. The term patel itself meaning 'village headman'. Gujarati Patels were historically landowners and farmers and traditionally vegetarians. 

I purchased this Patel choli from a third generation textile buyer and trader in Bhuj, Gujarat. His village was past the dump and abbatoir and consisted of little cement houses busy with women at the well collecting water and children playing. Every small room of his house was filled to the ceiling with piles of more than 7000 separate textiles. I chose 25 pieces from his collection including this bright and densely embroidered choli.