Over 500 women have been trained in appliqué and 300 women in embroidery. They now work as artisans in Barmer district in western Rajasthan.
Barmer district in the Thar desert region is an area of extreme and frequent droughts. Too often, men in these villages must migrate to urban areas in order to find work. These women artisans support their families with their needlework.
Embroidery is traditionally a skill of the women of the Sind area in Pakistan, but is now found in Barmer, Kutch and parts of Bikaner. Elaborately embroidered items were given to a girl at the time of her marriage. A bride's kanchili, or blouses, are embroidered by her mother.
Whether simple geometric patterns, elegant floral patterns, and colorful and ornate bedspreads, cushion covers, wall hangings or bags, Barmer appliqué and embroidery give an essence of Rajasthan rural desert culture and environment as well as design sensibilities and detailing.
The Barefoot College, began working in the Barmer district in 1988 in an attempt to pay fair wages, develop new designs and preserve the craft.