THE BRILLIANT BEAD CRAFT FROM GUJARAT

The beautiful Beadwork which is done using a technique of weaving using seed beads, is one the most eye-catching crafts of the Gujarat state.

The legendary beads date back to the period before Paleolithic age. Initially beads were large in size and were probably made of ivory or shells. The ones used nowadays for weaving are smaller in size which is presently used for bead weaving. It is also a heritage art that has its roots in the Egyptian items dating back to more than forty centuries. Exemplary evidence was that of beadwork found in the tomb of King Tut of ancient Egypt. Also, there were several beaded items found in Shosoin temple in Nara, Japan. History of beadwork India also started around 9th century B.C that refers to the braiding beads into horsetails and hairs.

The very first evidence about bead weaving is around 1300 A.D. Mass production of seed beads started in the Indo-Pacific region. Venice began the modern era of bead work by turning round tubes into round seed beads. Thus the creation, development and the production of seed bead were traditionally financed by European glassmaking center of Murano in Italy. Later the technique flourished to Bohemia, France, and Germany. In France faceted metal seed beads were popular.

The method of bead weaving is an elaborate process of weaving seed beads onto a plane fabric or to make a figurative object like a ball, flowers, box or clasp. They are also used to craft beads in jewelry or a whole new ornament from beads. They are generally used in embroidery such as brick stitch and peyote stitch and also utilized for loom and off-loom weaving techniques. These tiny beads are homogenously shaped and can be obtained in innumerable hues, shapes, sizes and textures. The material used for making these seed beads is glass.

It is always considered that the ability to manufacture seed beads in bulk is one of the major developments in the history of beads. It was appreciated to produce seed beads in mass from a tube of glass rather than the earlier laborious practice of generating individual beads. Further in 1860s bead-making industry saw the development in making of beads as several new process and machines were introduced in which machines enabled the glassworks to add uniformity of color and sizing. Then in early 20th-century, mass production of beads started when the machines could draw glass tubes automatically and generate even greater consistency in size of beads. Moving on to the present day, the process of manufacturing beads still possesses many historic procedures involved in the production of seed beads.

The ornaments made of seed beads are popular among Saurashtrian community of Gujarat. These bead articles were majorly used for adorning Saurashtra’s durbar halls and Rajput houses. As several artisans belong to this community, she is much aware of the worth for bead weaving in their community. These seed bead ornaments are popular among Rajput and worn by Varjara community and tribal of Gujrat.

Today bead weaving helps to earn a living in various villages of Gujrat. Both men and women practice it. Apart from decorative items, dolls are also made but from plastic beads. Even tiny beads are used for making key chains and other house decorative items. These bead items were sold through craft organizations or NGOs. This helps the artisans to sell their products conveniently and in a hassle free manner. After becoming attaining professional bead weavers from skill developing organizations, the artisans holds numerous workshops on bead weaving or participate in crafts fairs.

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