Ghaghrapat (Skirt Cloth)

Early 20th century CE

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)
Mumbai, India

The red gaji silk (satin silk) skirt cloth or ghaghrapat is embroidered with alternating rows of floral butas and peacocks. There is a floral scroll border. Between the last row of butas and the border is a row of alternating peacocks and putlis (dancing women). Each figure is flanked by a pair of parrots.

This ghaghrapat was probably made by the professional embroiderers of the mochi community. Cobblers by profession, the mochi community had in the distant past begun embroidering leather. The embroidery was done in chain stitch with the help of an ara or awl. The same technique was applied to finer material – silk – with a finer awl called the ari, resulting in fascinatingly intricate chain stitch.

The main motif is usually a buta. In this ghaghrapat the buta is in the form of a flowering shrub with six flowers. The designs were block-printed on to the cloth before the embroidery was begun; thus the butas are uniform throughout except for a strip at the top that has been stitched to the main field. There is a row of blockprinted peacocks untouched by thread at the top of the main field.

This piece shows similarity with the ghaghras in the collection of the Calico Museum, Ahmedabad.


  • Title: Ghaghrapat (Skirt Cloth)
  • Date Created: Early 20th century CE
  • Location: India
  • Provenance: Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection
  • Type: Skirt Cloth
  • Medium: Satin silk embroidered with silk thread
  • Region: Kutch
  • History of Style of Technique: The birth of a child brings great joy as it ensures the growth of the family tree. His arrival in civilised society is marked with a gift of a soft mulmul zabla. According to Indian tradition, it is considered inauspicious to buy any new clothes for the new born. In fact at first the baby is made to wear old clothes of a child from the family. The used clothing is soft for the tender baby skin and it is believed that through these clothes the positive family vibes and values would pass onto the baby. The arrival of a baby is remembered by its tiny clothes; a marriage ceremony by the carefully wrapped up wedding attire; parents are remembered through the garments they pass on to their children. This is perhaps one of the reasons why we treasure heirlooms. The tiny dresses worn by our children hold sweet memories. Treasured more than any expensive garment, they are a strong symbol of love. Earlier, they were stitched and embellished by mothers, aunts, and grandmothers for the child but today the trend of such home-stitched garments is on the decline, being replaced by the variety of readymade clothing available in the market.
  • Dimensions: 194 x 74.5 cms
  • Accession Number: 22.3181

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