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Lustrous Designs of Mirror Work

Mirror work that hails from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Odisha (Orissa) are similar though distinguishable, as each state produces mirror work with its own unique style.

Mirror work by the Gujarati Jat community is prominent for its intricacy and richness in detail and colours. Mirror work is commonly heavily encrusted with white, red, orange, saffron, green and blue stitches. Mirror embellishments are often found in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and represent shapes found in nature, such as flower petals, leaves and animals. The tradition of using mirrors as the centrepiece of flowers or the eyes of animals is still employed in today’s mirror work. These small pieces of mirrors are stitched onto the base fabric by means of a chain stitch or buttonhole stitch. The latter form of stitching is commonly used to embellish small, round objects onto fabric.

Traditional mirror work produced by the Jat community, featuring floral motifs
Traditional mirror work produced by the Jat community featuring floral motifs

The Kathi community of Gujarat are known for their incorporation of mirror work alongside other Gujarati handicrafts, such as applique and embroidery. The results of these designs, commonly found in Kathi embroidery, are elaborate and captivating, encompassing a detailed textural effect. The ongoing tradition of using pieces of mirrors as a flower motif’s centrepiece or as the eyes of an animal motif derives from the designs of Kathi embroidery.

Traditional mirror work by the Kathi community featuring parrot and floral motifs
Traditional mirror work by the Kathi community featuring parrot and floral motifs

Motifs and colours in Rajasthani mirror work are bold and vivid, reflecting the rich culture and heritage of the state. Mirror work from the state of Rajasthan is often found alongside applique and tie and dye. Kanjaris are a traditional costume that is worn long in the front and is backless, generally tied with chords. These garments, which are heavily embellished with mirror work alongside embroidery, are popular exports to today’s European markets. Mirror work in quilting alongside patchwork is also prominent in Rajasthan. Quilts stitched by expert artisans are strong enough to hold thousands of pieces of lustrous mirror embellishments.

A Rajasthani mirror worked kanjari
A Rajasthani mirror worked kanjari

Mirror work from Haryana is known for its use of gold and silver embellishments alongside mirrors. The result of the combination of these lustrous metals and mirrors is not only captivating but also majestic.

Mirror work from Odisha (Orissa) is found alongside the renowned craft of Pipli applique. Mirrors are not embellished on small items such as wall hangings, but can be seen to adorn large items such as the sizeable chariots and canopies.

A small section of an Odishan (Orissan) canopy, incorporating mirror work and applique
A small section of an Odishan (Orissan) canopy, incorporating mirror work and applique

 

Images: Woven Souls, My Learning, Joyful Abode, Cohands