Fabrics that echo the landscapes of their origin
Our collections are now available at BOTHO in Tübingen - Beim Nonnenhaus 7

Shamji Bhai Vankar Bhujodi Village

Vankar Shamji Vishram weaves on a pit loom at his home in Bhujodi Village.

We first visited Shamji Bhai at the end of March in 2018. We had travelled to Kachchh for the first time, with 3 of our children, taking the train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, and then further to Bhuj, staying in a village nearby. 

India's rich tradition of hand weaving, celebrated for its unique regional patterns, thrives in the Kachchh district of Gujarat in Bhujodi village. This small weaving community is renowned for its traditional handwoven textiles and is the birthplace of Master Weaver Shamji Vankar Vishram Valji. Shamji Bhai, an accomplished artisan, actively collaborates with indigenous communities to preserve India's heritage in artisanal textile crafts.

Shamji Bhai Vankar Charkha Spinning wheel

Shamji spins cotton on a traditional charkha (spinning wheel).

Carrying on the legacy of his award-winning father, Shamji Bhai works with 90 weaving and dyeing families, producing traditional and modern fabrics from cotton, wool, and silk in collaboration with local and international designers. Bhujodi weaving uniquely employs inlay techniques ("extra-weft") that resemble embroidery, showcasing Shamji Bhai's expertise in utilizing local indigenous varieties of wool and cotton, along with natural dyes like indigo.

Indigo kala cotton shawl handwoven in Bhujodi

A handwoven Bhujodi shawl, made using indigenous Kala Cotton and dyed with natural indigo and lac dyes. Personal collection. 

I used to sit with my father and listen to the stories of our ancestors and our traditional weave. I learnt about the challenges they faced and the leadership he had taken for the community. I understood from him that our family had a sense of responsibility as a few weavers were depending on us for work through the market channels that our father had created. 

Vankar Shamji Vishram

indigenous wool desi oon shawl
Indigenous wool (Desi Oon), with the traditional border and extra weft motifs, and hand tied tassles. Photo: Sarah Dunn, March 2024

shuttle and loom in Bhujodi village

A shuttle holds a bobbin wound with yellow yarn, sitting ready to race back and forth through the warp threads on a pit loom in Bhujodi Village. Photo: Arindam Bhattacharjee, June 2023

indigenous wool desi oon shawl

Pure white handwoven indigenous wool (Desi Oon), a simple design with hand tied pom poms. Photo: Sarah Dunn, March 2024

Kachchh is a region in India that has a very rich and well known craft presence both domestically and internationally. Bhujodi is about 500 years old and is home to around 4000 people. Almost every home has a loom, evidence of both the vibrant cottage industry and age-old textile traditions. The community can trace their roots back to Weavers (Vankars) from the Meghwal community who migrated from Rajasthan 500 years ago. Their traditional wool veils and heavy woollen hand-spun blankets were made for the local Rabari community, and used by the shepherds to protect them from the harsh sun and cold nights of the desert.

Pit Loom Bhujodi Village Gujarat

A pit loom inside the Courtyard. Photo: Arindam Bhattacharjee, June 2023

handwoven blankets drying in the sun

Handwoven Bhujodi textiles, fresh off the loom, drying in the sun. Photo: Arindam Bhattacharjee, June 2023

‘Our weaving was linked to local communities for centuries. In 1950s, our weaving was on verge of extinction due to advent of power loom & mill made fabrics. My father did not lose hope and steered our craft to outside markets, training us too.’

Vankar Shamji Vishram

Shamji sets himself apart by crafting unique pieces and small production, incorporating new weave designs such as acacia, lac, and indigo dyeing on various wool, cotton, and silk varieties. He has revolutionized materials, methods, designs, techniques, and products through extensive innovation, creating a distinctive product line featuring limited edition designs characterized by diverse colors, patterns, and fibers. His innovations extend to a traditional border technique and a weft-faced weaving approach, where the warp remains concealed in the design. Tassels grace the entirety of some shawls instead of being confined to borders.

desi oon indigenous wool shawl

One of Shamji Bhai's shawls from our collection at BOTHO in Tübingen made using indigenous wool (Desi Oon), with traditional braided border, hand tied tassles and extra weft motifs. Photo: Sarah Dunn, March 2024

Shamji's commitment to sustainability is evident, not only in his use of indgenous varieties of wool and cotton, but also in his revival of the traditional ecosystem, involving local Rabari women in spinning yarns, natural dyeing, and weaving. Additionally, women play crucial roles in finishing techniques like tasseling, embroidery, and mirror work.

Furthermore, Shamji has initiated educational activities, introducing weaving to young children in his community, fostering an early interest in the craft. Many young weavers undergo apprenticeship in the workshop, earning a steady income through weaving.

Shamji Bhai vankar Bhujodi Village

Vankar Shamji Bhai Vishram, inside his Indigo dye house. 

Arindam returned to Bhujodi in June 2023, to source a set of shawls for our new shop location. He was able to capture some amazing photos, and visit the weaving workshop and the indigo dye studio, with multiple fermented indigo vats, where Shamji demonstrated the process of dyeing a hank of kala cotton. The first set of shawls we chose for the shop were instantly popular; a variety of styles from rustic indigenous wool blankets to fine merino shawls with mirrorwork, and simple cotton striped with indigo to undyed golden tussar silk with glorious tassles.

indigenous cootton kala cotton shawl

A shawl from Shamji Bhai's collection made from indigenous Kala cotton available at BOTHO in Tübingen. Photo: Sarah Dunn, March 2024

We are incredibly delighted to share that Shamji Bhai will be joining us here in Germany this Spring 2024 for a series of workshops, lecture demonstrations and a trunk show. Click below for information about the events. 


Bhujodi Village

Home. Bhujodi Village, Kachchh, Gujarat. Photo: Arindam Bhattacharjee, June 2023

wooden charkha spinning wheel Bhujodi

A traditional charkha (spinning wheel) inside Shamji Bhai's Courtyard. Photo: Arindam Bhattacharjee, June 2023