The crafts of Kutch… and how they could fund your trip to India!

The textiles and crafts of Kutch are famous worldwide, and soon there will be a new way for travelers to make money by sharing them with the world! This post is sponsored by Caravan Trading Co., but all the thoughts are ours (duh) and the awesome textiles are credited to the people of Kutch.

 

The harsh Kutch region, home of the great Rann of Kutch, cloaks the wild west of Gujarat state, India. Outside of monsoon months, prickly trees and bushes line its flat desert terrain, which is seemingly empty except for the black, dusted buffalo herds winding their way through. Small villages sprout up every several kilometers, battered concrete houses huddling together in the desolation with the occasional cluster of traditional mud huts.

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - Buffalo walking through Kutch desert in India - Lost With Purpose

Under an unforgiving sun, it seems bleak, colorless. But looks, as we know, can be deceiving—Kutch is home to some of India’s most colorful heritage.

Bhuj, a small city in Kutch, is a historical hub of textile trade. Nomads have been traveling through Bhuj for hundreds of years, stopping to barter and sell their colorful tribal wares. From hand-stitched embroidery glittering with mirrors, to impossibly complex patterned fabrics block printed by hand, the handicrafts found in and around Bhuj are a technicolored dream.

Traditional embroidered Kutch dress material with plenty of mirror work in Bhujodi, a small town in the Kutch region of Gujarat, India.
Colorful handwoven carpets with traditional patterns in Bhujodi a small village in the Kutch region of Gujarat, India.A colorful stack of Ajrakh fabric block printed by hand in Ajrakhpur. Ajrakhpur is a small Kutch village famous for its textiles near Bhuj in Gujarat state, India.

And the dream is no secret: Bhuj draws thousands of Indian tourists each year. They shuttle from shop to shop in droves, hunting for the most beautiful textiles to call their own.

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - Indians shopping for kurtas and dresses in Bhuj - Lost With Purpose

The artisans and crafts of Kutch are known outside of India, too, but getting your hands on them as a foreigner is another matter. The occasional group of foreign textile enthusiasts can be spotted in the alleyways of Bhuj, but not everyone has the time—or the means—to fly halfway around the world for a scarf or dress hot off the loom.

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - A local weaver at his loom in Bhujodi - Lost With Purpose

A local weaver in Bhujodi, a small town in Kutch

Luckily, the world is not as big as it appears. In time, the crafts of Kutch will be more accessible than ever before. Caravan is a startup aiming to use travelers to bridge this very gap between artisans and customers, and bring the crafts of Kutch (and beyond) right to people’s doorsteps.

 

The textiles and crafts of the Kutch region of India are world famous, and for good reason! From colorful embroidery laden with glittering mirrors to intricate block prints done by hand, the textiles and crafts are some of India's finest. Read on for photographic proof... and to learn how the crafts of Kutch can fund your next trip to India!

 

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - Central bazaar in Bhuj, Gujarat state, India - Lost With Purpose

One of the bustling bazaars of Bhuj, a major hub of Kutch crafts

How travelers can make money with Caravan

Caravan’s concept is pretty straightforward. You, the traveler, make money with the extra space in your suitcase or backpack. Here’s how it works:

  1. You register as traveler, AKA a “Porter”.
  2. Buyers request items.
  3. You find what buyers want while on the road.
  4. Their purchases come home in your backpack or suitcase.
  5. You send out their items, and pocket a commission.

But Caravan’s goals go beyond simply shuttling crafts across borders. Their Porters help to bring goods and experiences to people unable to travel themselves, for whatever reason.

Here’s an example: let’s say Anna from the U.S. just learned about the famous Ajrakh block printing, and would love a block printed skirt to call her own. She can’t leave her family to travel all the way to India, but hey—if you’re traveling through Gujarat, why can’t you pick one up for her?

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - Traditional Ajrakh block printing designs - Lost With Purpose

Traditional Ajrakh designs… all printed by hand!

Caravan will tell you precisely where to find an Ajrakh skirt: the tiny town of Ajrakhpur, near Bhuj. This is where your quest begins! You’ll first need to venture out into the desert to find the town. There, you can meet the Khatri family, learn how they’ve run their block printing business for 10 generations, and, of course, find just the skirt for Anna.

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - Ismail Mohmed Khatri in Ajrakhpur - Lost With Purpose

Ismail Mohmed Khatri is the 10th generation of his family to manage the block printing business. The business’ employees are all members of the Khatri family.

It’s win-win once all is said and done. Anna gets her skirt with far more backstory and significance than the average shopping haul. You get to experience new cultures and make some money in the process. Chill, right?

 

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - A lone village house near Bhuj - Lost With Purpose

Where the textiles and crafts of Kutch are born

How Caravan benefits local artisans

Of course, it’s not all about you. It’s important, as travelers, to ensure our travels benefit locals, too!

Currently, most of these artisans’ crafts reach international markets through import/export businesses. Wholesalers buy the artisans’ goods in bulk, pushing down the prices, and thus profits, of the artisans. The businesses ship the items off to overseas vendors, who then charge customers an arm and a leg for them because… well, they can!

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - Colorful embroidered cholis in Bhujodi - Lost With Purpose

These colorful cholis embroidered by local Kutch women could easily go for more than $100 in the US. In India, they’re a mere fraction of that price.

Both the artisan and the customer’s wallet take a hit, and the only people winning in the end are the middlemen. This is on a good day, that is—we all know how often Made in China goods are peddled as “authentic” handicrafts.

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - A man block printing by hand in Ajrakhpur, India - Lost With Purpose

A man block printing a long cloth by hand in Ajrakhpur. It takes him two whole days to finish printing all the colors!

Caravan, on the other hand, keeps things human-to-human. Porters are just ordinary travelers hand-selecting goods from artisans at a fair price for buyer and artisan. If you make an effort to learn about the artisan’s craft and business in the process, and make sure to share it with others afterwards, you’re helping to preserve their art and culture. Sure, you’re just one person, but every small step counts.

 

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - Block printed fabric drying in the sun in Ajrakhpur - Lost With Purpose

Freshly dyed and washed textiles drying in the sun

Keepin’ it real

In the end, it’s this human element that’s most important. Behind every handicraft is a living, breathing person, but their story is often lost by the time their work ends up on a shelf thousands of miles away.

Textiles and crafts of Kutch, Gujarat, India - Bandhani fabric for sale in Bhujodi, Gujarat, India - Lost With Purpose

The traditional bandhani method of tie dye involves hours of hand-tying cotton string around parts of the fabric… but how would a buyer know that?

Change that. Work with Caravan to share the artisans’ culture and experiences all around the world, while funding your own travels. Remember, you’re not just carrying goods—you’re carrying their stories, too.

 

Want to travel to India, but not sure you can cover the costs? There's a new (and easy) way to make money while traveling—read on to find out what it is!

 

Caravan is live in Morocco, and will soon expand to cover India and Thailand. Whether you’re a Morocco-bound traveler, or just interested in getting your hands on some sweet stuff, head to the Caravan site for more opportunities.

 

Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex Reynolds

6 thoughts on “The crafts of Kutch… and how they could fund your trip to India!

    OSWALD DSOUZA says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WEBISTE OF LOOM PRODUCTS FRO,M BHUJ

    Janet Landman says:

    Yes I would love to know more ….

    Anand patel says:

    I am one of fleet owner and fluent English speaking driver. I can support to find out artisans as par your requirements.i know all the artisans in bhuj or nearby villages.

    Chitra Pandey says:

    Thanks for wonderful post! Kutch is very very beautiful destination of Gujarat;

    Priya Singh says:

    Hey, I am so glad to read your thoughts because I really enjoyed reading this. The way you explain your travel experience is truly awesome. I must say the list is a great one. If you are visiting Kutch keep this as the checklist to visit places and i bet you love them all. Keep travelling. Good share.
    visit- https://www.bharattaxi.com/kutch or dial 9696000999 for 24×7 assistance.

    Chitra Pandey says:

    Wonderful post! The information you gave is very good and helpful. We are offering car rental services in India at affordable rates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Lost With Purpose

Send this to a friend