The Villages of Dhaneti and Aina Mafiel in Gujarat, India


Desheret headed in another direction after lunch in Bhuj to Dhaneti, an Ahir village. A women’s cooperative was in charge of selling their embroidery but nothing interested us. Instead, we walked around the village and watched a group of women working on their sewing. It’s not easy to take care of their house, children, cook and still find time to embroider, hoping to sell an item to supplement their income.

Last village for the day was Aina Mafiel known for its Double Ikat. Double Ikat is when both warp and weft are dyed before stringing on the loom. “Ikat” literally translates to “tied” and that is what happens. The ink is tied to both threads where it bleeds onto the neighboring area creating cloth with distinctive, subtle patterns. Just one man and his wife showed us how they loomed Double Ikat out of silk; beautiful saris and scarfs for sale. I would have gladly bought one but considering I sit in front of a computer all day in sweatpants, it would be overkill.

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intently working on embroidery in Dhaneti, Gujarat
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an old-fashioned sewing bee in Dhaneti, Gujarat

 

Too bad, so sad…

looming a Double Ikat pattern in Aina Mafiel, Gujarat
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incredible Double Ikat for sale in Aina Mafiel, Gujarat

 

One last stop for the day. Kantilal took us over to Chhatri (cenotaphs) cremation grounds. It was founded by Rao Khengarji I, a dynasty that ruled Kutch in 1548. ┬áThis royal cremation ground contained memorials to former rulers, their consorts, various warriors….View image, and managed to survive until the 2001 earthquake. The Raolakha Chhatri was the oldest, largest and most elaborate of these memorials until then, but is now reduced to pieces. There is a stone tablet commemorating him and his 15 consorts.

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a still intact cenotaph at Chhatri cremation grounds, Bhuj, Gujarat
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warrior stone memorials at Chhatri cremation grounds, Bhuj

 

There were quite a few ornate cenotaphs still standing…View image. A stone block with two footprints that despite Kantilal’s explanation, I still don’t understand…View image. Beautifully decorated exterior walls…

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decoration around the outside of a Chhatri, Gujarat, India
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a suttee memorial at Chhatri cremation grounds, Bhuj, Gujarat

 

…and even a few suttee stones, completely unlike the suttee handprints I’d seen in Rajasthan. Instead of little red handprints, there was a big stone with an arm on it that meant this particular woman had committed suttee. Suttee is the act of a Hindu widow who is willingly (or unwillingly, from what I’ve read) cremated on her husband’s funeral pyre to show her devotion. Eewwww….

Photographs were allowed but no video. Back to Hotel Prince Residency for the night to recoup before heading into the northern permit area of Bhuj tomorrow.

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