Gujarat is the land of embellishments where the arid landscape is brought to life with the colourful bead accessories. Natural elements like clay, cowrie shells and ivory have given the bead craft an edge over metal and artificial jewellery. The beadwork from Gujarat can be seen in household items, women’s jewellery and other adornments.
The pastoral and nomadic tribes use beadwork for accessorizing. Various articles for ornamentation for head, arm and wrists are either made completely with beads or become a part of the ensemble. Chhota udepur in Gujarat is famous for bead jewellery which is practiced by the tribal belt. The pastoral communities adorn the end of their odhanies/women’s veil with beaded tassels. Even the most basic products such as the base on which pots are balanced are meticulously adorned. Agate beads are believed to have healing properties and are used for making the necklace, known as agate necklace. Beads are also used for making necklaces incorporating rudraksha seed. A lot of beads are used for ritual purposes such as rosaries and malas/garland.
The tribal communities of Rathwa, Bhils and Bariya of chhota Udepur and Panchmahal districts adorn their neck with neckbands made of glass and ceramic beads. They are strung together with waxed yarn and a lining of fabric is given at the back. The Rabari community wears necklaces made of the jarmar and limbori beads. Terracotta, wood and metal are also used for making beads.
Bead weaving also known as Moti Bharat Kaam is another form of bead craft, practiced by both men and women of pastoral tribes. Beads are interwoven in the fabric by sticking it on the fabric as per the desired design. Geometric designs and complex natural motifs are made with this art. Different sizes and colors of beads are used to create various products such as bags, embellished garments, torans and home furnishing articles. Beads are available in primary colors and white is used in the embroidery. Textiles fabrics such as bandhani and block- prints are decorated with glossary beads and mirrors.
Another type of weaving is texture beadwork where beads are interwoven in close tapestry-like articles without using fabric as a base. The designs are either floral or geometric. Saurashtra in Gujarat is the main place where beadwork originated. In various articles net-like structures are developed with running stitches.