A cap of a Rabari girl in Kutch, India
A woman’s jacket from Cusco in Peru
Cusco in Peru and Kutch in India are 15,829 kilometers (9835 miles) apart. They are almost as far apart as any two regions can get. And yet when it comes to embroidery, motifs, colors and patterns, their traditions are indistinguishable from other. It is remarkable how similar they look despite there having been no contact between the two cultures. Interestingly enough, one gets to see such embroidered works in many other parts of the world with comparable styles, motifs, colors and patterns. I am sure academic works exists on these similarities and why it is so but I have not come across any.
While browsing through Google’s Art Project this morning I first saw the picture of three women (See the image below) dressed up in their traditional fineries from Tinta district in the Canchis province of Cusco. My first reaction was “What are these Rabari women from Kutch doing in Peru?” As I zoomed into their clothes, the similarities between their embroidery and the ones produced by the traditional craft community of Kutch came alive even more. (See the two images above.) I can cite several examples of these embroidered works but these should be enough to make my point.
What these images tell me is how traditional peoples around the world conceive and visualize colors, patterns and designs can be so surprisingly universal. There is a recurrence of back, red, blue and yellow. In the works of the Cusco people I did not come across the use of tiny mirrors that craftspeople of Kutch use. That could well be unique to Kutch and some other parts of India and may have to do with the way India’s brilliant sunlight reflects in them.
If I did not caption the close-ups of the images above many may not be able to tell which works is from Kutch and which from Cusco.
This is a potentially rich documentary subject which I intend to explore some day.