Return of the glamorous 'gotas'

Return of the glamorous 'gotas'

The traditional wedding outfits have always been a stunning outcome of ingenious craftsmanship coupled with a deep sense of beauty and elegance. While rummaging through the well-preserved trousseau of grandmothers and mothers, one gets intrigued looking at the way craftsmen of yesteryears, without relying on any technical aid, furnished beautiful masterpieces. Their eye for design was beyond their times.

The attires made a woman look regal. The styles and techniques these talented craftsmen practised decades ago still draws admiration and are ardently followed by prominent Indian designers.

Gota work is one of those skills that was  practised many years ago, and to this day, ceases to fade away. Rajasthan is said to be the hub of craftsmen practising this artform through generations. Some of the places well noted for producing fine quality work are Jaipur and Shekhawati, besides Ajmer and Khandela. It is more of a home-grown talent taken up by the locals, preferably womenfolk, who rely on it to eke out a living.

Like any other form of embroidery, gota (a ribbon made of woven zari) too has some specific terms for various patterns, namely buta, kairi, buties, kinary, jal and gota tukri. The commonly used motifs are inspired by nature like peacocks, elephants, flowers, leaves, petals, etc.

Some craftsmen combine both tradition and modernism to create breathtakingly marvelous patterns. Gota embroidery, accompanied with appliqué, zardozi or kundan work gives a rich and extravagant look to an ensemble, and is apt for special occasions. Any exquisite piece of gota work can be a very balanced combination of various forms of zari needle work, enhanced with gota work.

The splendour of gota work in yesteryears was attained by using zari made of pure gold and silver. However, this privilege was reserved only for the affluent class. Now, with changing times, original gota zari has seen a transition. The pure and costly silver and gold got replaced with more affordable metals like copper, and nowadays, the karigars or craftsmen have even started working on inexpensive versions that are made of polyester called the plastic gota. This form of gota is more in demand, as it guarantees more durability and is not heavy on the pocket.

Just like any other form of hand embroidery, gota work requires precision, skill, and is extremely labour-intensive. Finishing a gota saree can take days, as there are different stages to the process. Once the karigar has finalised the pattern on paper, it is then traced on the fabric, which may be cotton, georgette or chiffon, then according to that design, the gota is folded, cut and manoeuvred. It is secured on the fabric by very fine hemming along the edges. The elaborate gota work is done to embellish sarees, dupattas, ghagras and cholis. Men too can feel the richness of the craft by sporting turbans beautified with gota work.