The Vankars (or weavers) of Bhujodi made dhablas or thick shawls for the Rabaris (pastoralists/herders) who wrapped these woolen shawls around themselves to keep the chill of the night away. The bhujodi weave is tight, so that even raindrops cannot penetrate the wool dhablas. The men wear this garment which becomes a protective raincoat. An all purpose covering really.
Rabari women wear this bhujodi weaves too, except that for women, the weave it lighter, longer, usually in plain black. Then the women tie-dye the fabric to create bandhini designs. On top of that, they might add embroidery or mirror-work as embellishments so it is a kind of layered effect of beauty.
Like many other weaves including the Chanderi and the Jamdani, the beauty of the Bhujodi weave is the extra-weft design that is woven into the warp. The motifs are usually geometric and involve the use of natural-dyed colours for the weft. The warp is usually plain.
Today, Bhujodi sarees are all the rage– and quite lovely to wear, I might add. But originally, these weaves were part of an ecosystem. The Rabaris would herd the sheep and supply the wool. The Vankars would weave and the Khatris would dye the woven fabric.
Vankar Vishram Valji and his sons are arguably the most well known Bhujodi weavers. Vishram Valji’s son, Vankar Shamji Vishram is thoughtful and curious. His knowledge of Bhujodi weaves is vast. He collects textiles and knows how to mix heritage motifs with modern trends. He is rooted in tradition and yet is open to the world.
When I visited Vankar Vishram Valji in Bhujodi, Shamji-bhai was travelling. His brother Dineshji-bhai talked to me wearing a dramatic indigo turban. But then, he likes to experiment with indigo dye.
Here he explains the Bhujodi weave, the designs and the ecosystem