Craft, Handloom, Art, Safeguarding, Sustainability, Sustainable Devt.

Crafts: Linking and Dividing

Tyabji, Laila

Last week I was in Kutch, at the annual Kala Raksha Mela at Vand - a wonderful confluence of craft, commerce, culture, and community. Among the milling colourful crowds, interspersed with an occasional camel, troupes of musicians, and amazing moustaches, were Rabaris, Meghwals, Mutvas, Sodha Rajputs and Garacia Jats. Communities who had spent much of their early lives in Pakistan – not Pre-Independence but comparatively recently; moving over the border after the 1972 conflict. New Pakistani ajrakhs, worn as turbans or scarves, and flashy, smuggled Chinese watches and transistors, showed that the border continues to be a porous one, and that people from both sides continue to illicitly communicate and visit. Though the Maru Meghwal, Sodha Rajput and Rabari mirrorwork crafts women are Hindu, and the Garacia Jats, Mutvas, and Sindhi Bharat embroiderers of Futehpuri and Berpur are Muslim, their tribal deities, sense of community, language, aesthetic and the ardours of their shared, itinerant desert life still weld them together in a Kutcchi-ness that transcends religion or nationality. It is a curious, almost eerie realisation, seeing them, that just a couple of miles away are similar people, leading similar lives, practising the same immemorial skills – separated only by artificially created political barriers. Nevertheless, those barriers, particularly post- 26/11, have made enemies out of kin, an...
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