Until a few decades ago, Kalbelias or snake The charmers played the pungi – an Indian folk musical instrument – as they walked from door to door, carefully showing snakes placed in their bamboo hay baskets in exchange for alms and food grains. He mesmerized the audience with his Unique Folk dances and songs, dressed in ornate black robes.
However, after the enactment of the Wildlife Act, the Kalbelias disappeared from the streets as they were thrown out of their traditional profession. snake to handle ,Our livelihood used to run from Sanap only. That’s how Bachchan grew up. Slowly, the forest people stopped this (We earned our livelihood through snakes. This is how we fed our children. The forest department has shut down our profession),” said internationally acclaimed Kalbelia singer Mewa Sapera, remembering the community’s rich history with snakes. After a painful separation with Kalbelia reptile, While many like Mewa turned to their traditional dance and music to earn a livelihood, others found themselves struggling with odd jobs.
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But, there is more to the community than their folk dances and songs – which are also recognized under UNESCO’s ‘Representative List of Intangible Cultural’. heritage of humanity’ – their quilt-making tradition, limited in practice within their limits Deron, mostly in the villages falling under Bundi district in Rajasthan. to save this quilt legacy and provide them better livelihood opportunities within their villages for subsistence of their community and crafts, an exhibition of quilts – titled ‘Quilt’ Yaadein’ – created by women from the Kalbelia community is on display at the Annexe Art Gallery, India International Center till July 26, 2022.
Talking about the exhibition, Dr. Madan Meena, a Practice Visual artists and researchers working extensively with rural, nomadic and tribal community, Said, “The exhibition is about this special craft of quilting which is very specific to the Kalbelia community. Although many communities make quilts, their craft is different because it is a combination of three Technique – First of all, they applaud or put on clothes; Next, they do a simple running stitch which is to sew two-three layers of fabric together, and finally, they make individual patterns on the top of the quilt.” Currently, 15-16 . more than Quilt The exhibits created over a period of 1-1.5 years are on display, he shared.
The ongoing exhibition evolved from the ‘Kalbelia Craft Revival Project’ which was conceived during COVID-19 When many Kalbelias returned to their native villages due to the lockdown. “This project first started in Bundi after the lockdown. During the Covid-19 lockdown, many women People of Kalbelia community who begged in places like Noida returned to Bundi. We decided to start working with their quilting tradition because it is unknown to the majority and has a lot to offer. value, We started with just two women and were supported by NIFT Jodhpur and IICD Jaipur,” Dr. Meena, Exhibition the collectorTold indianexpress.com,
Pallavi Singh, a student of IICD Jaipur, took up this craft revival initiative as her diploma project under the guidance of Dr. Meena and worked extensively with them. artisans of the community “I traveled to Bundi and nearby villages and found Kalbelia women who are good at making quilts and can do well” Work. Then, he showed us the quilt he made for himself. Then, we asked them to make something for us and paid them on a daily basis. In Bundi, the per day fee for labor is Rs 250. Since persuading them to work for us was really ToughDr Meena suggested paying them Rs 300 to make the work lucrative,” she said.
Soon after a positive response from the community, Kota heritage Society and Mumbai-based jewelery designer Geetanjali Gondhale raised funds to support them women And the project took shape. Singh continued, “Once I understood how long it took him to complete the quilt, we asked him to make more pieces. We didn’t make any design interventions to keep his originality intact. craft Doesn’t get lost We even asked them to make small Pieces including pillow covers, mobile pouches, small bags, table runners, etc.
For Calbelias, Despite Quilt never their source of livelihood, it has always been the essence of their traditional identity as a nomad tribe. When they lived in temporary tents called dera and moved according to the weather, these were hand-woven Quilt became an important Article Wherever they camped, they were required to sleep on the ground. They too stood as a matter of pride and were spread out to welcome the guests. They have memories of their nomadism, traditions, challenges and Experience.
Meera Bai, a 29-year-old Kalbelia woman engaged in making quilts in Bundi said, “We have to give this quilt to us during the wedding of our daughters. We also gift these quilts on special occasions. They never sold” and said that he learned craft From her older sister at the age of 10. “Quilt making has been part of our community for as long as one can remember,” she explained. indianexpress.com,
Mewa agreed and shared, “If we don’t give quilts during our daughters’ weddings, people make fun of us. It is an integral part of the community.” “When property is divided among sons, Quilt are also equally divided,” said Dr Meena.
Meva, who has a natural talent for singing Kalbelia folk songs, has performed with the well-known dancer Gulabo Sapera all over the world. However, after the Covid-19 lockdown, she failed to find an opportunity to perform and struggled to support his family. Now, Mewa has an important member Project and has been teaching quilting within her community.
“Meva had no work to support herself. So, we made her the same quilt Work And she has also made quilts for us,” said Singh, how this project is helping such retired Kalbelia women dancers and singers, apart from reviving this wonderful tradition of Gudri. Make
“Not everyone from community dances or sings. Those who did like me, they no longer get offers. there is a severe shortage of Meal and money. if this craft Going forward, women and young girls will get some money to run their families,” Mewa said.
Any art stands as a testament TimeArtisans’ culture and geography. As such, the aesthetics of the Kalbelia quilt have been shaped by the experiences and traditions of the community. References can be found from the texture of snake scales in embroidery patterns Why a quilt
“Once upon a time motifs Quilt are built, their speed is like that of a snake. Threads crawl across the fabric just as a snake does on the floor,” Singh said, explaining the technique, which she calls “an amalgamation of embroidery and quilting.”
Technique The ones employed to make these quilts are called ‘doda dora‘ Because after the layers of clothing are sewn together the surface is embroidered separately patterns in which the needle passes angularly (called doda in local language) through stitched thread. Each quilt – made from a combination of appliqué work, Quilt And embroidery – takes two to three months to complete. More complicated ones may require up to six months, he shared.
For the people behind the Kalbelia Craft Revival Project, the idea is to spread awareness about art and ensure sustainable livelihoods for women of the community “While we are working From last two years on this, to make it sustainable, we want people to know about this craft and buy these quilts. then we will be able to pay them artisansSingh said.
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