Paakko Gujarati: the world's strongest embroidery made into a typeface
Paakko: A Highly Intricately Embroidered Typeface
Region: Kutch, Gujarat, India
The Sodha and Jadeja Rajput communities of Kutch, Gujarat, practice two
embroidery styles called Paakko and Neran . The Jadeja community is from Kutch but the Sodhas migrated from Sindh, Pakistan during the war. When Sodha girls came to Kutch, they brought along their embroidery and their embroidery skills. They were really young when the craft was taught to them, they say, and would often run off to play when they were supposed to sit and embroider.
Paakko, meaning strong, durable in Kachchhi, is characterised by its sturdy denseness. It has curvilinear, floral, bird, animal and figurative motifs. Craftswomen render the wide pakka ni aank stitch (chain stitch) densely to create the motifs. They use colours with the same tonal values and highlight the motifs with the khann stitch or with mirrors to lighten the denseness.
We worked with five craftswomen: Ganga ba, Pawan ba, Mancha ba, Chandu ba, Daksha ba. We told them that although we would choose the colour palette, they would decide what colour goes where as they filled the letter forms stencilled on the base cloth. Each embroidered letter had five colours. After multiple iterations, we finally, unanimously decided on the final font. The outer or main structure is mono-linear but wherever the calligraphic strokes thin is where the transition between the inner segments has been added.
Craftspersons - Ganga ba, Pawan ba, Mancha ba, Chandu ba, Daksha ba
Designer and Craft Co-ordinator - Ishan Khosla, Charvi Dixit
Font Development - Sol Matas
NGO - Shrujan