Ganesha is regarded as the remover of obstacles and so it seems fitting that the Ganesha Thaap would have its origins in the dowry of a young girl. In the folk embroidery of Saurashtra, the Ganesh Thaap, holds a very special place and significance. It's origin dates back to the 1700s when the Gaekwads of Baroda colonised Amreli and its surrounding areas. It is often assumed that the Ganesh Thaap was introduced by the Gaekwad rulers and the tradition spread through the region of Saurashtra.
A young bride’s trousseau began with the embroidery of the thaap. Embroidered on a base fabric of yellow, signifying haldi, the purifier, the pattern is usually triangular on top and a square at its base, a shape which comes to mean the structure of a home. The center of the panel is occupied by Ganesha and his two wives, Riddhi and Siddhi, often his two sons, Lakh and Laabh and of course his trusted vehicle, the mouse. The rest of the panel depicts pastoral scenes, birds and animals. It is here that the artistic integrity is maintained through the expression and material of the artist’s own vision and understanding. Given that these panels were done by hand, without the constraints of norms, the thaap is a rare example of the diversity of forms that Ganesha takes on - the sitting Ganesha, standing Ganesha, sleeping Ganesha, the dancing Ganesha, Ganesha as king and clown. Vishwamohini-Priyalak, who has been collecting Ganesh Thaaps for over 40 years observes that no two pieces are ever the same.
As mentioned earlier, the thaap flourished between the 18th and 19th centuries and well into the early years of the 1900s. But with a shift in economy the thaap was soon abandoned because it yielded less profits than manual labour. Today, the Ganesh Thaap is a thing of the past, admired from a distance. And so, it gives us great pleasure to exhibit some of the most beautiful pieces of the thaap tradition and we hope that our endeavor contributes to a greater understanding of this lost art.