Gujarat is never far from the public eye. Now that the state has managed to rope in Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador, a large book on its handicrafts could not have been far behind. But HANDLOOM AND HANDICRAFTS OF GUJARAT (Mapin, Rs 2,500) — edited by Villoo Mirza and Vinutha Mallya —has nothing new to say. It reminds one of Jaya Jaitly’s Crafts Atlas of India, a book that — in spite of its weight — was nothing more than a directory of India’s handicrafts. In spite of the editors’ undivided attention to Gujarat and the carefully chosen pictures — at a time when the quality of photographs even in picture-centric books is often poor — the reader’s interest wanes quickly. It is the photographs of the people that catch the eye more than those of the handicrafts.
Left is a Rabari girl wearing traditional ornaments. Top right is a Pethapur craftsman carving a block of stone. Bottom right is a pair of narrow-soled shoes, the design of which is unique to Kutch.