Recently we had an authentic shopping experience that I am excited to recount. In Feb, this year we visited the Rann of Kutch and shopped for handicrafts. Located in Kutch in Gujarat it is a hotbed of handmade products like jewelry, home furnishing, kurtas etc. The best part is that you can buy directly from the artisans. If you read my previous blog you will know that we lived in Hodka village and bought our goods locally. We also bought products from Hiralaxmi Memorial Craft Park,the Handicraft center, in Bhujodi that sources products from all over Gujarat.
Gujarati hospitality is legendary, hence In Hodka, where we were staying, the entire village came to show us their products. The children were especially cute. We were set up in one of the villager’s house, in traditional ‘Bhunga’ style and sitting on a charpoy, we could choose from all the products. The villagers offered us tea (which many small businesses across India do) and were made to feel at home. While the artisans maybe exposed to people from all over the world it was refreshing to buy from them.
Can you put a price tag on art?
I was in awe of the handwork. The local women wear long tunics and skirts completely covered in hand embroidery and mirror work. To say that they are talented is an understatement.
Apparently, you can put a price tag on art. Here I have a small anecdote to share: The villagers offered us silver jewellery to buy. It was not real silver, however the design was unique. I was pushing my friends not to bargain as I was 100% sure you would not get the same design in Mumbai. I was promptly ejected out of the room. Tell me what would you do in my place?
Handicrafts to buy in Kutch:
Ladies and gents, while this is not an extensive list, we have you covered. By a quorum of 4 we have divided the products into must buys and optional things you can pick up:
Mashru Shawls: The Mashru Shawls look smart and are versatile to wear for different occasions. Besides, Mashru fabric is made of silk and cotton making it appropriate for summer . Available at Bhujodi
Furnishings: One can pick up Bed covers/Pillow covers/Table cloths/ wall hangings all with lovely Indian motifs in good quality cotton.However, beware, one of us tried to wash the bed covers and the color ran.
Khadi material for the boys: The Khadi material store at Bhujodi had affordable material that was also great for the summer. We bought it for one of our fathers and he stitched it into a kurta.
Silver Jewelry:The silver jewelry designs are unique tribal designs and worth the buy just for that. We bought from Hodka village and bargained hard for them.
Bird Whistles: These are available in clay/ceramic and make eccentric gifts. Dip them in water and then use them and it will sound like the chirping of birds. These products were only available at the Rann Utsav.
Gujarati Shawls: These are in distinct Gujarati style, if you have too many shawls, you can give these a pass.
Handmade toys: We picked up handmade cloth toys like camels and horses that make great gifts for children
Bead work jewelry: Made by the young girls in the village, some of the styles were quite funky . Hence, I had to buy them.
Copper Décor:I picked up a copper wind chime (pictured) from Bhujodi. It was atleast 80% less than what it would cost in Mumbai. It’s currently hanging in my balcony.
Whenever I visit a new place I always search about what things I can buy. It adds to the anticipation of the trip. I would highly recommend the experience of buying directly from the village. But whether you buy or not the whole experience is priceless.
Pro tip:You can bargain. However even at MRP all the products we bought were atleast 50% less than what we would buy from online/Mumbai.