Apply With Applique: Gujarat’s Vibrant Textiles

Apply With Applique: Gujarat’s Vibrant Textiles

India’s legacy and richness in art and craft forms is priceless. In a country of so diverse a culture, with plurality in domains like religion, tradition and language, crafts of Indian states reach timelessness and a beauty that is so elegant which leaves a person artistically silent. One such craft form is Gujarat’s appliqué art.

What is Applique Art?


An applique is any decorative art item, mostly fabrics, that is applied onto the surface of another base to give it elegance, pattern and ornamentation. This art form is mostly used in textiles but its exclusivity can be gauged from the fact that various industries and sectors use this art to make their products decorative and more artistic. For example in ceramics industry a very beautiful piece of clay, (often the expensive ones studded with gems), is applied on the base of the primary work to make the item colorful, mesmerizing and artistic. Applique is a French word which means “a surface pattern that is used to decorate an aspect of a garment or product.”

Applique in Gujarat

Applique art is one of the oldest art form of Gujarat, especially in textiles industry. It is prominent among the Rabari community of the state. Applique in Gujarat really flourished during the Mughal rule as this art form was used widely in clothes and curtains of the royal palaces and regal attire of royalties to enhance their grandeur and elegance.


In Gujarat different pieces of fabric and silk woven patches are applied on the broader base of any cloth to form beautiful patterns of floral designs. Animal imageries are often used in these patches to provide more elegance. These are used to prepare, curtains, quilts and apparels. The fact that any patch could be applied onto any base, gives the artists a liberty to experiment with colors and patterns. And sometimes the colors and patterns so formed produce an altogether mesmerizing piece of art. And then calling these curtains quilts and apparels ‘art’ wouldn’t be wrong. They are not just mere pieces of beautiful clothe, they are much more than that. Multicolored covering and curves of random patches give way to many geometrical shapes that are elegant. While seeing an applique art of Gujarat on any fabric, one clearly deciphers that this textile has been woven with patchworks and the colors and patterns have been well crafted. Vivid shapes and forms of fabric used as appliqué gives vibrant artistic pieces and clothes.

And then it’s not just about patterns and shapes in which these patches are stitched together. Sometimes, say four different patches are combined in the middle of a big piece of clothe to form an old mythical painting, which is afterwards surrounded with various geometrical patterns in right contrast and proportion to give elegance and regal quality to the textile products.

So the liberty in color usage, fabric choices, geometrical patterns and designs, makes appliqué art of Gujarat so distinct among other art forms. Because then the artist produces variety, vibrancy and colors.

Places where appliqué art is used


Kutch and Kathiawar regions in Gujarat are the prominent places where appliqué is a flourished art from. A community called Mutva community is iconic in applique embroidery. They use tiny mirrors, metal threads to give elegance and vibrancy to the clothes and curtains. The Harijans which reside in the villages Hodka, Bhirandiyara, Ludiya, Khavda are known for magnificent mirror work in their silk embroidery. The remote districts of Junagadh, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar in Saurashtra are also known for appliqué. They have created their own vibrant niche in this art form.

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