Pastoralists in Kutch have been patrons of craftsmen for generations, and the social and economic inter-dependencies between these communities have shaped a unique set of relationships and crafts. The exhibition specifically looks at the following:
Hataar – the system of patronage between the Muslim maldharis of Banni and the Hindu Meghwal leather artisans – it’s persistence as a social relationship despite the latter community shifting out of their traditional livelihood.
The links between potters and maldharis. The potters made a range of vessels for different milk products, each with a different use, highlighting the centrality of milk to maldhari life and livelihood. In the Dhebaria Rabari community, the relationship between the potters and maldharis, was unique because it exists between the women rather than the men.
Copper Bell Makers
Copper bells as indicative of a very live trade relationship – the highest quality is still sold to maldharis. It is interesting to consider why this is – each maldhari tunes his bells to a particular sound. Navigating grazing lands is possible through sound, and it is the sound of a bell that keeps a herd in check and tells a maldhari when an animal is lost.
The dissolving ties between the maldharis and block printing Khatri community. Whereas the maldharis once bought their ajrakh in Kachchh, today they source it from Sindh. The Khatris in turn have shifted their focus to the expanding outside market.
The slow return to use of local wool by local weavers, who have used yarn sourced from outside for many years. In the past, weavers and Rabaris existed in a neat closed loop economy, while today this once clean link is beset by middlemen. Also, where the Rabaris were once patrons of the weavers, the economic balance has now shifted in the weavers favour- the economics of the value chain will be analysed and presented.
Women embroidery artisans from pastoral communities are creating embroidered panels that reflect the natural environments of camel herding communities of Kachchh. The panels will draw on the resource maps, and on the experiences and natural environments of the embroidery artisans engaged in the project. Qasab, the embroidery women’s producer company will be responsive for this.
This section has been curated by Carole Douglas, art and craft curator from Australia with over 15 years experience working with the crafts and artisans of Kutch.