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99 Yatra
That backless choli is in fact an heirloom
21 September 2006

A backless choli worth Rs 30,000? No, it’s not Swarovski crystals lending it the hefty price. It’s more precious than that the choli is an heirloom, richly embroidered with love, emotions and dreams, probably running through generations.

The Kutchi heirlooms intricately embroidered cholis that are passed on from mothers to daughters at the time of their marriage are in great demand this Navratri.
The markets may be flooded with ghaghras and cholis sparkling with mirror-work and Kutchi embroidery but designers say young girls are lapping up this dream of a garment that is sourced exclusively from families in Rann of Kutch.

"I have sold seven cholis this Navratri which are masterpieces sourced from villagers in the Banni region. A choli weighs not less than two kg and is done up with embroidery that is a half to 1 inch in thickness," says designer Hemal Jahanara of Jahanara Fashion Studio.

Though halter-necks and spaghettis are very much haute this season, designers say the cholis preserved through generations and embellished with intricate Mochi, Ari, Dhaberia Rabari, Mutva and other traditional forms of embroidery find favour with the young because of their antique value.

These garments are bought for Rs 3,000-30,000 from the Kutchi families and then sold to customers at a 20 per cent premium. Like Shwetal Parikh, 25, who bought a 50-year-old choli that has sparkled on three Kutchi brides before finding its way to her.

"I will wear the choli at my maiden Navratri fiesta with my fiance as well as our reception during my wedding,which is slated to take place by the yearend," says Parikh who feels her Rs 30,000 investment is worth it!

"It’s a tradition with Kutchi women to make exquisite cholis and ’chaniyas’ for their daughters. Today, many families in need of money are ready to sell them off," says Pratibha Pandya of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) that works with Kutchi artisans.

"There is a huge demand for such family heirlooms not only in Gujarat but even amongst Gujaratis settled in the UK, US and Europe," says Salim Vazir, an antique dealer in Kutch.

Courtesy - The Times of India, India kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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