SELECT A CRAFT BELOW AND DISCOVER ITS TECHNIQUES
Gujarat's moniker is the 'Jewel of the West' and rings true to this day, owing to its role in history. The state was well known to the ancient Greek civilisation, Persian Empire and Roman Empire, serving not only as a landmark along major sea routes, but also as a land of vast trade opportunities. During the Maurya and Gupta Empires, the coastal cities of Bharuch and Khambat were widely recognised ports and trade centres along ancient sea routes.
The state of Gujarat is also a key site of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation. The city of Lothal is home to the world's earliest known seaports and was a vital centre for the ancient trade of gems, beads and other valuable ornaments from Asia and Africa. This led to Lothal being one of the citites that pioneered the tools and techniques utilised in bead-making and metallurgy (the study of metallic elements in science and engineering). 4000 years on, these tools and techniques form the foundation of bead-making and metallurgy of today. The city of Dholavira, which is in the Kutch region of Gujarat, is estimated to be older than Lothal and is home to the most prominent ruins of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Remnants of 3rd century BCE resevoirs, seals, bronze handtools and copper jewellery are among the many items excavated that is evidence of the advanced lifestyle of the ancient civilisation.
Gujarat's history is filled with imperial grandeur. Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya Empire who ruled from 322 BCE to 298 BCE, is a pivotal figure in the history of India, acclaimed for unifying the states of Greater India and expanding India's empire. In the Gujarati city of Giringer, which is present-day Junagadh, Chandragupta appointed the construction of the Sudarshan Lake dam. Chandragupta's grandson, Emperor Ashoka, further developed the dam and constructed canals making cultivation viable. The construction of these dams and canals attributed to the ever-growing economy of Gujarat and thus the rest of India.
Bhuj, a city in the Kutch district, is but one famous shopping destination for handicraft work. It is common for skilled artisans who reside in nearby villages to sell their art work and crafts in Bhuj. Organisations and projects that perpetuate traditional Kutchi arts and crafts, such as embroidery and tie and dye, or bandhani, are Shrujan, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), Kalaraksha and Women Artisans' Marketing Agency (WAMA). These organisations not only sustain the traditions of the handicrafts and the artisans, but are also hubs for those who wish to study the elaborate history and techniques of the textile arts.