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Meet the Embroiderers of Mirror Work

The traditional handicraft of mirror work is, more often than not, employed in textile production alongside other traditional Indian handicrafts. The craft of mirror work on its own is most renowned amongst the Jat community of the state of Gujarat. The Kathi community are also known for their use of mirror work, though it is employed alongside embroidery. Mirror work is also prominent in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, and alongside other forms of textile handicrafts in the states of Haryana and Odisha (Orissa).

The Jat community reside in the Banni Grassland Reserve, situated in the Kutch district of Gujarat. Mirror work produced by the Jat community is influenced by motifs and designs from the Balochistan region. The Balochistan region is today comprised of southwestern Pakistan, southeastern Iran and a small part of southwestern Afghanistan. This influence is owed to the fact that ancestors of the Jat community migrated from Balochistan to the Kutch district, bringing with them traditional Balochi mirror work designs and techniques that have long since been integrated into the culture and heritage of traditional Indian textile handicraft.

Women of the Jat community donning their traditional garments, adorned with mirror work
Women of the Jat community donning their traditional garments, adorned with mirror work

The Kathi community reside in the Kathiawar peninsula of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. The traditional textile handicraft prominently practised by the Kathi community is Kathi embroidery. Though this craft mainly falls under the category of embroidery, it incorporates the use of mirrors to enhance designs and accentuate details.

A mirror work craftswoman of the Kathi community at work
A mirror work craftswoman of the Kathi community at work

In Rajasthan, the town of Jaisalmer is the hub for the production and trade of mirror work. Both craftsmen and craftswomen in Jaisalmer are highly skilled in mirror work production and embroidery. Heavy patchworked quilts are often adorned with mirror work, and are the most sought after items of Rajasthani mirror work.

Close up of a Rajasthani patchworked and mirror worked quilt
Close up of a Rajasthani patchworked and mirror worked quilt

Mirror work is primarily practised in the city of Gurgaon in Haryana. Just like in Rajasthan, both men and women are highly skilled in the production of mirror work. In Odisha (Orissa), the town of Pipli is internationally known for its traditional applique items. Mirror work is often employed alongside applique.

Mirror worked products at a market in Gurgaon, Haryana
Mirror worked products at a market in Gurgaon, Haryana

 

Images: Original World, Shutter Stock, Indian Holiday