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February 2, 2001
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Kutch's mirror-work, embroidery industry wrecked

Gujarat's mirror-work has long enchanted peopleWhat was once a bustling industry with exports totalling million of rupees, the famous embroidery and mirror-work industry of Kutch, is today fighting for survival.

The January 26 killer quake has snuffed the life out of more than 3000 artisans in the entire region.

Thousands of colourful mirror pieces, billed embroidery materials, accessories and gift articles lie scattered in the verandah of Raniben Furia's ruined single-storey building at Dhamadka village in Bhuj.

This very village, which won several national awards for intricate colourful embroidery, mirror-work and gift articles, today, stands reduced to mere rubble with almost 70 per cent of its artisans feared dead.

"With this erosion of the Kutch heritage, the future of all of us is in question," Rani Furia told PTI.

The village was a hub of these smalescale industries, which were managed mostly by women. A majority of the village artisans had business arrangements with international and domestic handicraft organisations for sale and display of the famous Kutch work the world over.

They also exported art and design through fellow Kutchhis based in the USA, the UK and the Middle East.

"I have lost my entire life's earning and my daughter, who was an expert in the mirror-work and embroidery," Babubhai Gala laments.

Estimating a loss of more than Rs 5 million, Gala said all his business contracts would diminish because of the largescale devastation.

Many world famous establishments of this intricate art industry have been destroyed and Babubhai is now busy collecting his leftovers to migrate to distant Rajkot.

Over 3,000 embroidery and mirror-work artisans were killed in Kutch quakeHe said, "It hurts when the very government that conferred on me several awards has not even sent a team to rescue those trapped under the debris."

Nearby is the Bhujodi village, which has the internationally famous 'Shrujan', the state-of-the-art shop for Kutchhi embroidery items.

With over 150 artisans of the village now dead, shop owner Meghji Bhubadia is trying to motivate a few of his rescued artisans to resume work.

"I have lost business worth millions of rupees. But how can I stop my work? I will go insane if I let this destruction affect me," he said.

Luckily, Bhubadia's family is safe, but his manufacturing unit has been completely destroyed by the quake.

Tears swell in Jamuna Ben's eyes as she describes her mother-in-law's death and expresses her inability to resume embroidery work.

"The quake has not only disabled me but rendered me jobless. I will never be able to hold a needle again," she said in a choked voice.

The Complete Coverage | List of earthquake sites

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