Gota embroidery of Jaipur and Naila, Rajasthan

Amidst all the glitter, glamour and glitz of yesteryear the shimmer and shine of Gota stands out!

Gota has captured in its weave the fantasy of the times. Travelling from the markets of Surat, Ajmer where they were manufactured, Gota came to be the ubiquitous accessory of every royal garment. Gota involves placing a woven gold cloth onto other fabric, preferably silk or satin, to create different surface textures. It is often complemented by ‘kinari’ or edging, which is the fringed or tasselled border decoration. The Gota was cut into fine shapes of birds, animals, and human figures, attached to the cloth encased in wires of silver and gold, while the space around was covered by coloured silk. The overall effect was one of enameling quite similar to the kundan – meena jewellery, a highly refined craft of Rajasthan.

Even in the remote village of Rajasthan, women adorned their tie and dyed dupattas with trips of Gota. Generally, large floral patterns were made out of Gota strips folded into petals were the central motif. The Gota strips were so arranged along the borders that when the dupatta was draped over the head the Gota border would come over the head. 

After the Gota ribbon arrives in rolls from the shops it is flattened out. Then a broad Cellotape is stuck all over the wrong side of the surface i.e. the non- shiny side of the ribbon. 
Then, the Gota ribbon is put on an iron tool called pitan – kutan and with the help of an iron nail-like tool the Gota is hammered out into desired shapes. The design has meanwhile been drawn onto the butter or tracing paper by an exert artist hired specially for this purpose. This design is now traced on to the final fabric with the help of a paste of kerosene and lime. Then, the tiny Gota pieces are stuck on the pre designed areas. The adhesive used is BONFIX. After the pieces have been pasted the edges are embroidered to the fabric. The threads used to embroider the edges are sometimes plain, braided or twisted. Sequins, beads, stones, crystals are added for a glamorous look. 

Raw material:
Today Gota is still manufactured in Surat and Ajmer. Due to the unavailability and the high cost of gold, it is no longer used in the weft. It has been substituted with synthetic fibers that are easy to maintain and are cost effective. There is continuous research going on for more durable, easy care fibers that could be dyed in attractive colours. If success were achieved then Gota would surely go global!
The ‘dapka’ rolls cost Rs. 500/ kilo, while copper Gota costs up to Rs. 1000 per kilo.

Design & motifs:
Now, there is a greater concentration of an admixture of Gota along with other embroidery accessories. These are beads, sequins, stones, colored threads twisted or braided. There are newer designs, mostly floral that are in vogue. These designs have the Gota cut out into finer shapes and motifs unlike the older motifs where Gota stuck out at angles. The Gota is now cut such that there are no such angles and delicate flowers, leaves, creepers can be made. There are some traditional motifs such as peacocks, paisleys that are still popular, though these are found mostly amongst the products that are made for the mass market. 
The mass-market products are mostly mixed synthetic fabrics, or fake chiffon’s, georgette. The tie and dye red and yellow odhanis that the women in rural Rajasthan draped with bright large Gota floral motifs have become a rarity!

Final products today:
Gota is presently widely practiced on bandhni, lehariya, mothra, block printed fabrics. These fabrics could end up as dupattas, scarves, lehanga – choli sets, salwar kameezes and the essential sari. The fabrics used are range from chiffon, georgette, silk, cotton, tissue, crepe, tissue, Kota doriya and other synthetic fabrics.

Karigars (craftsmen):
The majority of the ‘Karigars’ who are actively employed in the craft of embroidering Gota reside in Naila, around 30 kms from Jaipur. The additional strength of Karigars comes up from Jaipur, Bassi and Kanota. Earlier, Gota was carried on as a domestic craft in poor households and women were involved in it but now only men are involved in all the processes of the Gota work. Most of the Karigars come from Muslim families. Sometimes even young boys are taken in as apprentices so that they can be experts, like the senior Karigars, by the time they grow up. The shop owners explain the designs to the ‘Karigars’. Since they are trained in this craft through generations and are extremely dexterous they have no problem in getting their word across. And, they are ensured of getting exactly as is expected out of them, if not better! The suggestions of the Karigars regarding designs and the type of work to be done are respected. Since the Karigars are experts the shop owners do not find any sense in dictating them.

Payment to the Karigars is done on the basis of the intricacy of the work done and the amount of time each has spent on a particular piece of article. The best Karigar is reserved for decorating the dupatta. 

Centres of Production:
The areas of Jaipur where the Gota work is done are Ramganj, Chandpole, Choti Chaupad
Areas around Jaipur are Naila, Bassi, Kanota. There are approximately 5,000 to 6,000 men working on Gota in Naila.