Bhimji and the traditional weaving art of Kutch
Kutch is a remote region in the western Indian province of Gujarat known for its arid and dry climate. The civilization here dates thousands of years back to the flourishing cities of Indus Valley. Embroidery and indigenous crafts are synonymous with the region and its natives, who for hundreds of years have been perfecting their craft and trading far and wide. Woolen hand weaving is one such art that has been sustained by generations of craftsmen and their families in the villages of Kutch.
Bhimji Kanji Vankar is one such artist. ‘Vankar’, his family name, means a traditional hand loom weaver. He considers himself an artist first and a businessman second and is widely respected by acclaimed designers across India that come to him for his exquisite handwork. The art of weaving wool is a difficult one to master. The hand looms that have to be operated with both hands and legs take a strong man to run, which traditionally left the women to hone their skills in the finer art of embroidery that adorns these shawls. Bhimji’s looms support not only his extended family but numerous women in his native village of Sarli, who work in hand weaving and embroidery, creating pieces of art to be treasured for a lifetime.
Bhimji is thrilled to offer some of his best works for sale through Seva. These shawls are made as a part of the state run weaver empowerment program that helps generate income in rural households, motivating people to continue preserving the cultural heritage and traditional ways of living and reduce mass migration to urban areas in search of jobs.