Rajasthan, the land of golden sand is famed for its creative crafts that colours life of natives. Significant level of creativity of these art pieces reflects traditions of Rajasthani culture. Traditional costumes lehenga-choli is identity of Rajasthan women. It is stitched from rich decorative embroidery on simple but bright coloured fabric. The bling in conventional lehenga-choli is due to brilliant Gota Patti fabric ornamentation.
Gota patti, an exclusive art native to Rajasthan is a metallic embroidery on fabric which is a unique adaption of applique creation. Traditionally genuine gold and silver metal wires were used to make gota. That’s why it was very expensive so later on use of silver coated copper wires in making the lace reduced cost a bit. This art has royal look and is used on silk fabric for occasion wear, especially for bridal wear.
With the modern time coloured gota is used to give contemporary look to outfits. Colored threads are used in weave to make variously coloured gota. Inexpensive options available these days use cotton or synthetic thread as warp and metal (gilt or lurex) in weft. Manufacturing units in Ajmer, Jaipur and Khandela town in Sikar district are main centers for Gota weaving.
Elaborate patterns are created with gold or silver zari ribbon called Gota. The work is patronized by royal families. These are hemmed as beautiful pattern or border. It is a seasonal craft, mainly carried out during wedding and festival season in India. That is why it is less practiced in April, May and June.
Process of making a Gota work dress
Mainly Bisayati community Muslims are engaged in Gota works; while men do it on commercial basis, women stays at home and works art from home. It is carried out in Nayla and nearby areas of Jaipur. Carving out beautiful patterns on fabric is a multi-step process.
- Tracing pattern on fabric: The cloth is stretched from end to end and framed on Adda for ease of working. Base fabric is one of the luxurious varieties; it may be Tussar silk, chiffon, Georgette, velvet or silk. The outline of the design on tracing paper is perforated with pin. It (khaaka) is now placed on fabric. The paste of chalk powder and kerosene is dabbed over to trace the design. This process of image transfer is known as Chhapayi in Hindi.
- Stitching or pasting punched gota on fabric: The ribbon is cut and shaped into round, diamond, and rhomboid at Ajmer and Jaipur. Tucking these shapes in design is called Takaayi. Sometimes the bits are glued with fabric glue or are hanged with special needle. The gota ribbon is folded into shape of patti or leaf and hemmed as border. Then couching is done with zari thread in running stitch or chain stitch to enhance shapes and add aesthetics.
- Hammering on design: After completing the design it is beaten with hammer known as peetan and is now ready to remove from Adda.
Popular motifs in Gota art work
Every region has its specialized pattern. All the motifs are inspired by nature and the popular ones are birds, peacock, parrot, elephant, paisley, flowers, leaves, human figures, flower pot, palanquin and geometrical patterns.
History of this awesome craft reveals an amazing fact- the use of bluish green metallic shell of beetle as embellishment altering with silver or gold gota. This had been done on royal garbs. Other than that traditionally it had been used for decorating garments of the court men, temple idols, or the altar cloths in temples. Apart from dresses, ghaghra, tops, kurta, trousers, home decor items, shoes, and women bags/clutches grew the craze for traditional Gota work. Thus the extensive range made the craft popular internationally.