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RALLI - A BOND A craft documentation of Sindhi Muslim traditions by ISHA PIMPALKHARE | SHAMBHAVI TIWARI

Guide: Aarti Srivastava Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


Document set in Meta, designed by Erik Spiekermann.

Craft Documentation: Sindhi Muslim Rallis, by Isha Pimpalkhare National Institute of Design Textile Design Batch 2010-11 Shambhavi Tiwari National Institute of Design Textile Design Batch 2010-11 Guide: Aarti Srivastava Š National Institute of Design (2014) Paldi, Ahmedabad Gujarat, 380007 Ph: 079-26623692 Printed at Siddhi Printech, Ahmedabad. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or translated in any form or any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


“Neem ka ped chandan se kam nahi, humara basanpir landan se kam nahi�

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT We take this opportunity to thank the National Institute of Design to have given us this opportunity of undertaking a craft documentation project, as part of our curriculum. We would like to express you gratitude and deep regards to our guide, Mrs. Aarti Srivastava, for her guidance and monitoring throughout the course of this project. We also take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to Mrs. Swasti Singh Ghai, who guided and trained us to undertake the huge responsibility of documenting the crafts of India, which helped us in completing the project through various stages. We are forever indebted to the people of Basanpir Juni for their valuable information and kind co-operation, without which this documentation would never have been possible. We also extend our gratitude to Prof. N.K. Sharma from Jaisalmer, as well as all the people from Jaisalmer who contributed to the making of this book. Our thanks and appreciations also go to our batch mates, in developing the project, and all the people who have willingly helped us out with their abilities. Lastly, we would like to thank our parents, brothers, sisters, and our friends for their constant encouragement and support

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


PREFACE We at the National Institute of Design, undertake Craft Documentation, a research based module, which enables us to understand the traditional craft culture of India. These craft traditions, perfected through generations of practice are repositories of traditional wisdomof shapes, form, technique, colors and in a larger context, a way of life. These traditions are omnipresent in India. One such land, which overflows with its tradition, is Rajasthan, because of its vibrancy and its deep roots in textile traditions. Textiles have always been deeply embedded with the life, culture and tradition of every Indian woman. A similar textile called ‘The Ralli’ found in the Sindh region celebrates the bond between a mother and her daughter. Our craft document, thus aims at honoring this bond, which is built over the making of the ralli. We went about our research in Basanpir Juni village for twelve days. It was an extensive fieldwork, which comprised of conversations, observations, learning about the craft, studying their way of life and overall trying to blend in with their lifestyle to get a holistic experience. The book mainly revolves around the woman – the maker and creator of not only the textile, but also the aesthetic sensibility, which they follow in their day-to-day life. It outsets with an introduction to the community, their etymology, and moves on to talking about the people, their lifestyle, the craft, culture, and the interdependency of all these aspects of their existence. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


CONTENTS I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII XIII

INTRODUCTION DAWN OF A COMMUNITY VILLAGE AS OF TODAY SOCIAL IDENTITY CULTURE HOME THE MAKER/CREATOR/MOTHER OF AN IDENTITY RALLI- A BOND RALLI CREATIVITY EXTENDED TO OTHER CRAFTS AESTHETICS PRESENT CHALLENGES OUR REFLECTIONS BIBLIOGRAPHY

11 17 23 39 59 67 75 87 91 125 135 141 147 153

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


I. INTRODUCTION

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


Asia, traditionally is known as a place producing the best in textiles. The art of making fabric from cotton was first perfected here, in the ancient southern part of this subcontinent. The Romans even sent traders to this area to get fine fabrics for their togas. Womenfolk in the Indus Region of the subcontinent, presently the domain of an independent sovereign state of India and Pakistan have traditionally been the harbingers of this historical tradition. A particular type of such beautiful textiles produced in the area is the “Ralli” quilts. Adorned with bright colors and bold patterns, the quilts are also called rilli, rilly, rallee or rehli derived from the local word ralanna meaning to “mix or connect”. As mentioned before, Rallis are produced extensively throughout India, since times unknown. These Rallis reflect the values and traditions of the region where they come from. They tell stories of the people who create them, their culture rooted deeply inside each one of the Rallis they make. Rallis are made in the southern provinces of Pakistan including Sindh, Baluchistan and in the Cholistan desert on the southern border of Punjab as well as in the adjoining states of Gujarat and Rajasthan in India. Muslim and Hindu women from a variety of tribes and castes in towns, villages and also nomadic settings make rallis.

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Gadisar lake, Jaisalmer


// JAISALMER Jaisalmer, nicknamed “The Golden city”, is a town in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located 575 kilometres west of the state capital Jaipur. It was once known as Jaisalmer state. The town stands on a ridge of yellowish sandstone, crowned by a fort, which contains the palace and several ornate Jain temples. It lies in the heart of the Thar Desert (great Indian desert) and has a population of about 78,000. It is the administrative headquarters of the Jaisalmer District. The land which is now district Jaisalmer, was once submerged under a sea. It is now a barren land with very sparse vegetation. There entire area is vast land with sand dunes at some places. During the day, the yellow sandstone and the clear skies make a beautiful color palette. Due to vast open areas, there is a lot of wind that blows. There are windmills installed by the Indian Government to use the wind energy to produce electricity for Jaisalmer district. The temperature during the day in summers rises upto 47˚C, whereas in the night it drops down to 20˚C. The scrotching heat in summers makes it very difficult for the fauna of Jaisalmer to survive. Winter days are much more comfortable, but the nights become extremely cold due to the presence of sand. The flora of Jaisalmer is of its own kind. There is very little or no vegetation in the dessert area. Mostly there are keekar shrubs that become food for the animals. There are also, ker, saangri (a shrub used by local people in cooking), aakda etc. shrubs. These shrubs require very little water to sustain in the dessert. A lot of neem and shreesh trees are also found.Deers, barasinghas (Swamp deers), rabbits, nilgais, sheep, goats, cows, buffaloes, vultures, crows, aad (black and white body with yellow beak), partridges, are the different kids of fauna found in this region. Jaisalmer is majorly inhabited by Hindu rajputs and Muslims.

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II. DAWN OF A COMMUNITY

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The Sindhi Muslim community of Basanpir Juni village.


// COMMUNITY DESCENDENCE The North Western borders of India were guarded by the Chandravanshi Yadava dynasty in 300 BC to 600 AD. Their provinces were the centers for all the religious movements. This heroic warrior clan once had a young chivalric hero called ‘Bhatti’, who with his courage and bravery, successfully took over the provinces of Panjaang and Jangaal. His descendants, who had the same rigor and passion, were popularly known as ‘Bhati Rajputs’. The ruling family of Jaisalmer were Yadava-Bhati Rajputs whose progenitor was Buddha, the founder of the Chandrvansh or Lunar race whose power was paramount in India at a very remote period of World History. They were the ones who established Jain-Buddhism in India. Many kings followed Yavana dharma, which sprouted from Buddhism. One such king was, King Baland’s son, King Chiketa. The Mughal Chikta clan gets its lineage from his descendants. King Chiketa’s grandson, Maharaja Gori, established a city called ‘Gor’, 100 kilometers away from his province. His descendants were popular as Goris, and later they accepted Islam as their religion. Muhammad Ghori comes from the same lineage. Years later, because of the region where they come from, they were called SindhiMuslims. Sindh is bound to the west by the Indus River and Baluchistan, to the north by Punjab, the east by the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan and to the south by the Arabian Sea. Thousands of Sindhi Muslims reside in small villages bordering Pakistan on the north west frontier of Jaisalmer. They live in small clusters called ‘dhaaniya’ in villages like Sam, mahajalaar, shahgarh, ghotaadu, baliwaadi, kherpur, mathidaau, sarkaaraali etc. They are animal herders. They can live in the forest for days without food and water and survive only on grass and milk. Sindhi Muslims are divided into 51 sub castes. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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A paliwal cenotaph at the periphery of the village.

A Kuccha lane in the village.


// HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE COMMUNITY Basanpir Juni has been inhabited by the Sindhi Muslims for the last 40 years. Before that, the deserted villages of Jaisalmer were inhabited by the Paliwal Brahmins who left the district about 200 years ago on account of oppression of Salim Singh, who was the Prime Minister of Mool Raj II. Paliwal Brahmins belonged to the Gaud community in Pali, a district 60 kilometers from Jodhpur in Rajasthan. There are many reasons why the Paliwal Brahmins left Jaisalmer. The word Basanpir for the village comes from the word ‘Basana’, meaning settlement and ‘pir’, meaning a saint. It is said that, a saint called ‘Baadshaah Pir’ once came and drank water from the lake here and rested for a while, and hence, the village got its name. Basanpir village was a deserted place till 40 years ago. The village community that exits today is a combination of different people coming together from different places. People shifted from three villages, namely, Anjaniyaar, Tawarki and Nautala. 40 years ago, the land of Anjaniyar village was taken by the government to build a firing range for the Indian Army, which became the cause of the movement. Similarly, due to land issues, people from Tawarki and Nautala had to shift. The Kallars are from Anjaniyaar, the Maangalia population of Basanpir is from Nautala. People from Mehar and Mangalia sect came from Tawarki. All three sects decided to stay in Basanpir Juni, as there were no earlier inhabitants of the village.

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III. VILLAGE AS OF TODAY

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INDIA

Below is the geographical location of Basanpir Juni, which is part of the Jaisalmer district in India. On the page alongside, is a magnified image of Basanpir Juni, and its neighbouring villages. Basanpir Juni has been marked with a red dot. This map is a hand drawn approximation by the patwars of Jaisalmer Municipal Corporation.

JAISALMER

JAISALMER BASANPIR


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Jawai Nadi, the pond at the periphery of the village


// THE VILLAGE Basanpir is a village, about 16kms from Jaisalmer, on the Jaisalmer-Jodhpur highway. The village is divided into two parts – Basanpir Juni and Basanpir Dakshini. Basanpir Juni comprises of about 350-400 houses, with a population of about 2000-2500 people. The entire village consists of about 26 thousand acres of land. It is an extremely humble settlement with simple houses mostly made of mud. The newly constructed structures are made using bricks. Being a small community, the number of houses is not much and they are well spaced out from each other. Space is not really an issue and hence each house has adequate space with a small courtyard in front of each house. The adjacent houses do not always have a fence or any kind of partition as most of the people in the village are related to each other. The roads and small streets through this settlement are not made of tar, and hence have an undulating surface. There is desert sand all over the village. The villages surrounding Basanpir Juni include Thaiyat, Chatrail, Sam, Dabali, Nachna, Bharewala, Mohangad, Salldiya, Jaldri, Badabagh, Dhaaoliya, Laathi, Bhagu ka gaaon. Basanpir Juni comprises of Sindhi Muslims, while Basanpir Dakshini has hindu. The occupation of the inhabitants of Basanpir Dakshini is building houses. In spite of this cultural gap, they share very cordial and peaceful relations with each other. On the festival of Eid, the people of Basanpir Juni invite people from the surrounding villages, even the hindus, to join them and celebrate. They even have a cricket tournament, called the Basanpir Premiere League, where in each of the neighbouring villages form their own team and play a tournament.

There is small pond near the village of Basanpir Juni, called the Jawai Nadi. There is also a school near the pond, right on the border of the village. The people of this village, especially the men, are mostly farmers. They have their farms near a village called Mohangad. The crops they grow mainly include Jowar, bajra, chana, mustard, wheat, cumin and psyllium (isabgol). The farmers of the village sell their crops in the Jaisalmer market.

JAISALMER

BASANPIR JUNI

Sindhi Muslims live throughout the village of Basanpir Juni. Kallars , Mangaliyas and Mehers are the three different castes which live in this village. Each of these castes occupies a designated area in the village, and do not have their houses mixed with the houses of another caste. (diagram of the distribution in the village). There are only 2 houses of mehers. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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// BASIC AMENITIES The village has a number of basic amenities, which helps the village function smoothly. The village receives its water from the Indira Gandhi Canal. There is a tube well, as well as a pipeline for water. There is a school in the village up till standard 8. There is no hospital in the village, though there is a nurse who comes on all working days from 9am to 2pm. One of the villagers, Hasan Khan owns a provision store, and all the products in his store come from the Jaisalmer city. There are 3 taxis in the village itself which are used for travel. All the three taxis go to and from Basanpir Juni to Jaisalmer. Anyone wanting to travel on the route has to pay Rs.20 one way. It takes less than an hour to reach Jaislamer. The taxis are owned by Baseer Khan, Makhane Khan and Hasam Khan. There is a postman who comes every once in a while to deliver letters, as well as money for the elderly senior citizens of the village.

The provision store of the village

A typical kuccha house in the village Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Jawai Nadi Panchayat Sabha

School

Paliwal cenotaphs

Nurse quarter

Chainiyat/ BPL store

EXPERIENTIAL MAP Provision store

Well

Masjid and Madarsa

VILLAGE EXPERIENTIAL MAP


// VILLAGE EXPERIENCE

All the villagers keep the village extremely clean and tidy. They make sure that the area in and around their house is kept clean, and in this way each one of them contributes to the cleanliness of the village. They take a number of measures to avoid any kind of filth in the village. They see to it that there is no stagnant water in the village. Each house has its own line for a proper drainage system. Women of every household get up every morning and sweep the house and the surroundings. On the collection of excess garbage, they burn the garbage. There is a garbage bin near the Gram Panchayat, where all the garbage is disposed. They even make manure out of the wet waste that is generated.

A woman in her aangan

Layout of the village. House distribution Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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The main road of the National Highway that connects Basanpir to Jaisalmer.


//POLITICAL SCENARIO: LAND The people living in Basanpir Juni, are originally, inhabitants of a village called Anjaniyaar. Since Anjaniyaar was converted into a shooting range, the people had to leave. Since there was a dispute between the darbaars and the government, these people never really got relocated to another land. Hence these people ended up settling at Basanpir Juni. The land they live on as of today does not belong to them. It still belongs to the government. Much later, the government came up with an arrangement wherein each of the households would get 75 acres of land, not together, but in separate villages like Thaiyat, Bhagu ka gaav, etc. But the villagers have refused this land saying that they want land which is all together. Also Basanpir Juni being almost next to the highway, the villagers have better accessibility to the cities around and hence do not want to move elsewhere. On talking to Prof. N.K. Sharma, Founder of Desert Cultural Centre, Jaisalmer, he had a very different perspective to give. He mentioned how these villagers had illegally taken over the land near the Indira Gandhi Canal, which actually does not belong to them.

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The school premises


// PANCHAYAT - SARPANCH

Thiayat, Bhagu ka Gaav, Jerat, Basanpir Juni, Basanpir Dakshini and Bamro ki Dhani, all come under one panchayat. Gaji Sheekendra is the Sarpanch of Basanpir. His uncle, Gaji Fakeer is a member of the Congress

// EDUCATION

Basanpir Juni has a school at the periphery of the village, near the pond. The name of the school is State Government Higher Primary School. The school has 8 standards, from Std.1 to Std. 8. There are 6 teachers, 2 sisters, as well as 2 teachers who teach drop outs. Most of the teachers travel from Jaisalmer to come and teach here. The school timings are from 10.30 am to 4.30pm. The principal of the school is Mrs. Sudha Chaudhari, and the vice principal is Mr. Natwar Joshi. Mr. Natwar Joshi lives in Jaisalmer. He has been teaching since Septemer 2000. The job is based on transfers, and there is no fixed tenure to the next transfer. On interviewing him, he gave us a few facts and figures about the students. He mentioned that the registered students at school are 261, out of which 140 are boys, and 119 are girls. Out of these, only 90 students actually attend school, 70 boys and 20 girls. He also mentioned that according to the rules and regulations, the teacher are not allowed to fail any student.

There is a madarsa in the village. The children go to the Madarsa to learn Urdu. They also learn about islam and religious techings from the Maulvi of the village. The teachers want more and more students to come and study. So they regularly go to the villagers to appeal to the parents to send their kids to school. The government provides facilities to the school in order to encourage the students to learn more. Text books and bags are provided under this scheme. The students even get Midday Meals. It isn’t compulsory for the students to study or attend school. Most of these kids stop studying after Std.8, and either sit at home, or work on the fields. To acquire a driving licence for heavy vehicles, it is required that the students study till Std. 8. So many kids study for that reason alone. The kids who do wish to study further either go to Jaisalmer, or to Bhagu ka gaav. The subjects taught at school include English, Hindi, Science, Maths and Social Studies. The school also has a library. Technically, it is necessary to have a secondary school at the Panchayat Headquarters. But due to political influence of Gazi Fakeer, who is a resident of Bhagu ka Gaav, the secondary school has been shifted to Bhagu ka Gaav. There is also an all girls school .at Bhagu ka gaav. Alsi Ram is an educational volunteer for those students who drop out of school. As per the Education for All programme, these educational volunteers get Rs.12/day for every student.

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Children in their school uniforms. The uniforms are provided by the government.


// GOVT. SCHEMES: NREGA, BPL, YOJNA

There are a number of schemes for these people to provide them with a better living as well as support them with their basic sustanence. The NREGA and BPL scheme work towards providing the villagers with basic necessities, as well as means of earning income. The housing scheme helps them build their settlements. Also for children there are minority scholarships provided to students who score a minimum of 50% marks in their exams.

recognizes it as a means of livelihood and sustanence. There are 4 types of registrations: temporary, permanent, for economic reasons, and for exhibiting. These villagers are part of a minority community because of which they are given a lot of grants including land, money, grants for their upliftment. Many a times, they end up taking undue advantage of these liberties which causes misuse of money, circulation of fake notes, and corruption.

As part of the BPL scheme, there is a store which provides the basic goods at subsidized prices. Every household has a ration card issued to them by which they can make use of these stores. The villagers are supposed to get wheat, kerosene every month. Unfortunately, this does not happen. The people do not get this facility every month, but get it only about 4-5 times in a year. Also, the ration card gets stamped and shows that they receive these goods every month, but the reality is very different. When they do get the goods, they get 3 litres of kerosene for Rs.50 and 10kgs of wheat at the rate of Rs.11/kg. As part of another provision under the BPL scheme, the villagers receive Rs.25,000/ person as loan from the government, to carry on with the craft of ralli making. Out of this money, they have to repay Rs15,000 back to the government and Rs.10,000 is waivered. Bista Bai, one of the master craftswomen of the village, receives Rs.4,000/month, and a sewing machine from the government, to teach the other women of the village how to stitch as well as the craft of making Rallis. But Bista bai does not use this facility to teach the women. Infact, she charges the other women and stitches the clothes and rallis for them. The government also plays a big part in the sustenance of these crafts. Under this premise, the craft of Ralli making is a registered craft where in the government Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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IV. SOCIAL IDENTITY

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Bistan Bai with younger generation of Basanpir Juni


The society of Sindhi Muslims is based on a patriarchal society structure and the women play a very little or no part in the cast council of community and in political sphere. The Sindhi Muslims belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. They are said to be an endogamous community and are converted Muslims. The sub castes are named after their ancestors or territories where they come from and some are representations of their Hindu Rajput origin. Though the community is closely knit, but there are prejudices that are maintained with the presence of sub castes. They reside on the northwest borders of Jaisalmer that separate India and Pakistan. That entire area from Baluchistan to the north of Punjab, the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat and to the Arabian Sea were once called Sindh, hence their name. Out of the 51 sub castes, people only from the Kalar, Mehar and Mangalia caste reside in the village. The caste hierarchy is as follows. (The village people gave a hierarchy chart for Qaim Khani, Sayyed, Mughal, Pathan, sheikh, but in N.K. Sharma’s book, there are 51 sub-castes listed with no information on their hierarchy.) Kalar > Mangalia > Mehar. The Kalars own more land than the other two castes. Even in the village distribution, they occupy the front part of the village that is connected to the highway. The Mangalia community has recently grown stronger financially and socially with the help of government schemes. They have better pukka houses now and have more knowledge and understanding. They are keen in sending their children to school to learn and do other jobs than farming because they don’t have much land. The Mehar community did not know farming earlier, but after the 3 communities came together in Basanpir Juni, they started farming after being influenced by the Kalars and the Mangalias. There are only 2 Mehar houses on the periphery of the village. A typical Sindhi Muslim man, attire. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Women of the village in their traditional attire


ATTIRE // WOMEN The costumes of Sindhi Muslims have a uniqueness of their own. The women bedeck themselves with different types of costumes along with jewelries. It differs from caste to caste. Their costume constitutes of 4 pieces. The top part of the body is covered by a blouse called kaanchli, which is stitched to a long knee length kurta called a peti. The sides of the peti have slits from the waist to the knees, which have a piping called haar. Under that, they wear an ankle length skirt called ‘ghaghra’, which is gathered at the top. It is usually bandhej or printed. They also wear an odhni or a baayalu. The older women of the village wear kaanchlis with kashida work on it. The Kalar and the Mehar women dress similarly, whereas, Mangalia women have some differences in clothing. Unmarried girls wear salwar kameez with an odhni and start wearing kaanchli and ghaghra after they get married. Usually the kanchli has kashida work and peti is made out of dress material that is sourced from the pansari market in Jaisalmer. There is no set of clothes. The women mix and match the ghagras and the odhnis and wear them in everyday life. A sindhi muslim widow is fully attired in black. The kaanchli is black and sometimes has suf-style black embroidery. The ghaghra and odhni are similar in construction to those worn by married women. Sometimes, black is replaced by maroon or dark blue.

Bistan Bai in her traditional attire. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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The attire of the younger generation

Jamiyat Bai showcasing her attire


Festive attire of the women of the village during Eid-Ul-Adha, where all of them wear new clothes and all the jewelry that they posses. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


Paayal/ jhaanjhar, the silver anklets that women wear during festive occasions


// JEWELRY Jewelry is a very important part of the women’s attire in the Indian culture. It adds to the beauty of a woman, also becomes an indicator or a signifier of her social standing. The Sindhi Muslim women adorn themselves with beautiful ornaments, some which are worn before marriage and some after. Some of the Sindhi Muslim ornaments are slightly different from the jewelries worn by other communities. The ornaments are made of gold and silver. Silver has a lot of religious context. Their ear ornaments like ‘kudka’, ‘muruki’, ‘nasbi’ etc. are circular in shape and is worn in different portions of the ear, often at the same time. There are 4 pieces of gold Murukas, which weigh 1 ‘tola’; one tola is equivalent to 11.66 grams. The married women also wear a big circular disc in their noses called ‘popa’. It is made out of 1/2 tola gold and has very intricate design patterns on it. The tail of popa is twisted at the end so that it doesn’t fall off the nose. The Mangalia women do not wear popa, but instead they wear a smaller nose ring called ‘Sidki’. They have popas, but they prefer to wear Sidki out of comfort. Both hands have beautiful ‘Kangans’ made out of silver. The pair weighs 50 tola. To make sure that they don’t get hurt by the Kadas while performing household activities, they wear a rubber bangle called ‘kasoliya’, so that the Kangan rubs against it and its edges become smooth. Similarly, they wear 2 ‘kadas’ in the feet that weigh 50 tola as a pair. For special occasions like festivals and marriages, they wear all the jewelry that they have. Jewelry also becomes a means to display one’s wealth.

Bista Bai, wearing popa, the nose ring and kadas. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Popa, the nose ring is made out of gold or silver and weighs about 1/2 a tola. It is worn, only by married sindhi muslim women.

The circular disc worn in the ear is called a nasbi. It is worn along with earrings.


Married women, along with glass bangles, wear heavy silver kadas in both their hands. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


A man in his traditional attire in the courtyard of his house


ATTIRE // MEN The attire of Sindhi Muslim men shows a little variation from that of the other communities. The men wear a long ‘chola’ as their upper garment and this sometimes extends below their knees, much like a long shirt with full sleeves. In recent times, wearing of shirts and pants, on occasions, a coat are usual. The commonly worn lower garment is called a ‘tehmat’, which is of ankle length, unlike the usual dhoti. It is generally white in color. Depending on the region, a short piece of material, either plain white or an ajarak print is carried on the shoulder or tied around the head as pagdi. The older generations dress up in the traditional attire with the pagdi and tehmat, whereas, the younger generation has shifted to wearing shirt and pants. Even men are fond of jewelries, which include earrings, and amulets and those are tied around the neck and arms with a black thread. They are called ‘tabeez/taveez’.

Older generation of men wearing tehmat Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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ODHNI/ BAAYLU

KAANCHLI

PETI

GHAGHRA


SAAFA

GAMCHA

KURTA

TEHMAT

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popa

earrings kuduka and nasbi


bangles and kangan

kada and jhanjhar

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// LIVELIHOOD Sindhi Muslims are basically cattle herders. They have a lot of cattle in the village and earn their livelihood by selling milk and fur of the cattle. The people of Basanpir, along with animal husbandry, also do agriculture. They either have their own fields or work as laborers on someone else’s fields. The young boys are also taking up other professions like truck driving. They study till the eighth standard so that they can get a liscence to drive heavy duty vehicles and start driving. The men who drive trucks make Rs. 8000/- a month. The women of the village do not work to earn a livelihood. They sometimes sell the pieces of the craft they do, to earn money. Some women work for the government schemes if needed. Otherwise, they do household chores and crafts and manage the house and the family.

Cattle being taken to the fields by a man Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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V. CULTURE

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


A new born baby, being taken care of by nurse.


// BIRTH, MARRIAGE, DEATH Sindhi Muslim community is a very culturally rooted community. They follow many customs and rituals for birth, marriage, death etc. At the time of birth of a child, they call a kaazi, who reads the holy Ouran for the better future of the child. On the sixth day, the child is given a ceremonial bath and the next day, the child’s head is shaved off as a sign of religious devotion and humility. The child is given a name within two-three days of his/her birth. There is no rule that is followed in naming the child. Mostly the names are given by the current trend that is going on in the society. Many children in the village were named after Pakistani cricketers and Bollywood actors. The most important ceremony for a boy is of circumcision. When a boy comes of age (2-9 years), a good date is decided and the ceremony is performed. A maulvi is invited to do the task. After it is accomplished, a goat is sacrificed and is served as a feast to the entire community. At the time of birth, the Sindhi Muslims hardly go to the hospital. The delivery is performed by a daai-maa, who is an old woman in the village who helps the women deliver the child. It’s compulsory to have two boys in the family; until they have two boys, they do not stop reproducing. The number of girl children in the family doesn’t matter. Whenever a girl is born, there are no celebrations in the community. But they never kill a girl child. After a certain time, they undergo a tubectomy and get themselves sterilized Marriage is another event in the community that has a lot of rituals to be followed. From the bride’s side, the mother of the bride gives 21 rallis and other objects as dowry. It is one of the most important customs where she displays all the 21 handmade rallis to the entire community, which shows her love towards her daughter. Out of those 21, there is one aadho kaccho aadho pakko ralli that is spread on the floor, on which the musla is kept, where the groom comes and reads his first namaaz in the bride’s house. The bride normally wears red or maroon salwaar kameez on the wedding day and wears a lot of jewelry. From the day of marriage she starts wearing popa in her nose and wears all her jewelry everyday for about a month or two. The girls are not allowed to step out of the house just before

Iliyas bhai, during his marriage ceremony, wearing traditional attire Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Sehra, the headgear, which is made by the sister/mother

The ajarak fabric piece is taken on the shoulders, by the groom during the marriage ceremony


their marriage. In the Mangalia community, the bride’s side takes money from the groom’s family. This money is used in making arrangements for the marriage and preparations for the marriage feast. In professor N.K. Sharma’s opinion, they used to take money from the groom’s side, because earlier, females were less in number, therefore, the men had to buy them. The Kalar and the Mehar community, doesn’t take money from the groom’s side. On the wedding day, the groom wears a pair of new white salwaar kameez, sehraa headgear made by his mother to cover his face during the ceremonies. He also carries a fabric piece on his shoulder, which is usually ajarak. The sister of the groom decorates a stick with beads, called tallad, which is carried by the groom throughout the wedding ceremony. While finding a groom for their daughter, the family looks for an educated boy who earns money and is around 21 years of age. If they find someone in the family itself, they get them engaged at the age of 10-12 years, and marry them off later. On the wedding day, many delicacies are prepared which include, sheera, rice, kheer, meat and chapattis. Sweets were prepared until very recently, when peer of the village- soori baadshah asked them to stop making them. Marrying more than one girl is allowed in the Muslim religion. If a wife dies, the man is allowed to remarry even out of the family, but when a husband dies, and if the wife does not have a child, she is allowed to marry her husband’s brother. People are not allowed to marry out of caste. Those who do, are out casted from the community and called tukra. Muslims bury their dead. They take the dead body of the person and orient the head in the north direction at the time of burial. The dead body is placed between two stone slabs and lowered in the ground. They sometimes get cenotaphs built on their graves. They also give a feast to the entire community called mausar.

Tallad, the stick that is carried by the groom during marriage Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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A representation of the inter-relation between the yearly agricultural and festival cycle.


// FESTIVALS Two of the most important Islamic holidays of the year are Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. While the former marks the end of the long fasting month of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Adha marks the end of Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage to the holy city Mecca. It’s customary for every able Muslim (as prescribed in the Five Pillars of Islam) to go on a Hajj at least once during his lifetime. Also popularly known as the Festival of Sacrifice, this Muslim holiday Eid-ul-Adha commemorates Prophet Abraham’s unselfish act of sacrificing his own son Ishmael to the One God, Allah.

spectators. Afetr the sacrifice, the meat is cooked by the men of the village. There are other delicacies also that are made. Everyone dresses up in their new clothes on this day. Women wear all their jewelery. Men also wear new clothes and shoes. The entire celebration gets over by afternoon after which the women sit and talk to each other and the men either go to Jaisalmer or play cricket.

The history behind Eid-ul-Adha follows the story of the faithful Abraham, who was instructed by Allah in a dream to raise the foundations of Kaaba, a black stone, the most sacred Muslim shrine in Mecca (Saudi Arabia), which the Muslims face during their prayers (salat). Immediately responding to the Lord’s call, Abraham set off for Mecca along with his wife and son, Ishmael. At that time, Mecca was a desolate and barren desert and Abraham had to face a lot of hardships. However, he supplicated Allah’s commands uncomplaining. In a divine dream, he also saw himself sacrificing his son Ishmael for Allah’s sake. When he told this to Ishmael, the latter immediately asked his father to carry out Lord’s commands without faltering and assured that he was completely ready to give up his life for God. But miraculously enough, when Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael, Allah spared the boy’s life and replaced him with a lamb. And this is what Abraham ultimately sacrificed. To commemorate this outstanding act of sacrifice (qurbani) by Prophet Abraham, people sacrifice a lamb, goat, ram or any other animal on Eid-ul-Adha and give the meat to friends, neighbors, relatives and the needy. People who are away from the holy pilgrimage, Hajj, also carry out this traditional sacrifice. Hence Eid-ul-Adha is also known as the Feast of Sacrifice or the Day of Sacrifice. On Eid-ul-Adha, the people of basanpir collectively sacrifice goats at the backyard of the village. Women are not allowed to be a part of the ceremony. They are just Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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VI. HOME

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


Bismillah Bai’s courtyard.


// THE HOUSE Basanpir Juni has both kaccha (mud houses) and pukka (stone) houses. In earlier times, there used to be only kaccha houses, but as the community started flourishing economically, and also, with the help of government funds, the people of Basanpir Juni converted their houses from kaccha to pukka. The Hindus of Basanpir Uttari built these houses. Mostly all the houses have the same layout with minor changes. The outer fence of the house is made out of mud and cow dung, sometimes, even with dried leaves and barbed wires. As we enter the main gate which is a small gate made out of local wood available (not present in every house), there is a small verandah called ‘chaugaan’ that leads to the main door of the house. Mostly all the footwear is removed in this corridor. There is one or 2 rooms at the end of the corridor which are used to store food grains and keep cattle in the winter season. The space in which cattle is kept is called ‘baada’. Some houses have toilets and washing areas outside the house within the fence. But mostly the houses do not have toilet facilities.

and also as sleeping areas in the winter season. They are covered rooms and mostly pukka. It takes a lot of resources to get the kaccha houses converted into pukka. Money being the biggest issue, the people built their houses slowly. Whenever they have money, they first get the walls of the house made which are usually made out of the Jaisalmer sandstone. Once the walls are done, they get the ceilings and the doors constructed. The houses that cannot afford to use sandstone, use the leftover pieces of earlier constructions, mix it with the cow dung and use it. (BRICKS) With government aid and schemes, the Mangalias got their houses converted into pukka houses. Kalar and Mehar still have some Kaccha houses in the village.

As we enter the house, there is a big central open courtyard called ‘aangan’ where most of the activities like eating, sleeping in summers, preparation of food etc. happen. It may or may not have a shaded area for cooking. Usually one of the corners of the courtyard becomes the cooking space. They make an inbuilt setup in the floor to support cooking on wood and cow dung. The food is cooked on wood that is collected by the women of the community from neighboring areas. In the houses, which do not have toilet facilities, the bathing activity takes place in the courtyard. The aangan is also used for making rallis in the winters. People sleep in the courtyard under the open skies in summers. The courtyard is plastered with a paste of mud and cow dung every 4-6 months. (shade for sitting). There are generally two rooms in the house adjoining the courtyard, which is used as storage spaces for keeping the television, trunks, beddings (khaatla/ khatiya) Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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PUKKA ROOM 1

THATCHED AREA

RASOI/ KITCHEN

PUKKA ROOM 2

AANGAN/ COURTYARD

MEETING ROOM

KACCHA ROOM

FODDER ROOM CHAUGAN BAADA TOILETS/BATHROOM

ENTRANCE

// LAYOUT OF A TYPICAL HOUSE


A kuccha toilet in one corner of the courtyard

Pukka rooms in Bista Bai’s house

Rallis spread in the courtyard of Jamiyat Bai

A typical entrance of a house with kuccha walls Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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The arrangement of things in the courtyard


// AESTHETIC SENSIBILITIES REFLECTED IN THE HOUSE The houses are very clean and properly kept. The objects are always kept in an order. For example, the rooms have a ledge on the top where all the utensils and other objects are neatly displayed. The trunk in which rallis are kept are also closed and sometimes used as seating. The wood that is used for cooking is also neatly stacked in the backyard. The arrangement of the cooking utensils at the time of cooking and also, when the space is not being used is also very interesting. The neatness and the aesthetics of the house reflect in the aesthetic sensibilities of the craft as well.

Neatly arranged utensils and objects in the pukka rooms

Arrangement of objects of daily use in the thatched roof

A neatly stacked pile of wood used for making food Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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VII. THE MAKER/CREATOR/MOTHER OF AN IDENTITY

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


// THE WOMAN- A MOTHER, A DAUGHTER, A NURTURER.

As in every household, the woman is the very foundation of the house. Imparting various roles throughout her life, she assumes the position of a very dynamic character in each and every household. Right from helping out her mother, to imparting her duties as a wife and daughter in law, to being a mother and taking care of the household, to keeping alive the rich culture and traditions, a woman goes through very important transitions, at every stage of her life.

The people practice endogamy, where in the husband – wife have been each others cousins in the past. Thus, the couple know each other ever since their childhood. Thus, there is very little discrimination because of familiarity ever since they were born. The women work really hard around the house, where as the men do not help around the house too much; although the men go to Jaisalmer to buy vegetables for the house.

As a little girl, she goes to school, as well as starts with helping out her mother in the smaller chores around the house. She goes to school, but only up to standard 8. The school in Basanpir Juni has only 8 grades, and in order to study further, she needs to go to another city. Very few families around the village are open to the idea of sending their daughters to another village, and hence she doesn’t study further. In the village, there was only one girl who went on to study further.

In many houses, the woman is not allowed to watch television, with the reason that she get exposed to things, which the men do not approve of. Unlike men, the women are not required to compulsorily read namaz everyday, or even regularly for that matter. Also, during the time of Eid, the women are not allowed to perform the act of sacrifice.

Thus, as she leaves school, she starts helping around in the house, an extra helping hand to her mother. She starts picking up a lot of other skills, like cooking, as well as the various crafts, which the women do in their free time. Many a times, around this age, the family gets their daughter engaged or married. But the daughter still stays in her own family, till she is old enough to go and live with her husband. ( tilll her husband is able enough tobuilds a house for himself)

The younger girls of the village are not allowed to step out of the village. Only the elderly lot are allowed to go to Jaisalmer, and that too in a bunch of at least 2-3 women. There has been hardly any woman who has travelled beyond Jaisalmer. Interestingly, on interviewing one of the women from the Mangaliya caste, she mentioned that she quite frequently travels alone to Jaisalmer, and also to visit her sister in Jodhpur.

Once married into a new family, she starts practicing all the duties which she trained for, from her mother. Her main duties are to serve the family, do the household chores, and to bear children. The wife is expected to keep having children, till she bears two sons. Once having two sons, she undergoes tubectomy, after which she can have no more children. As a mother, she becomes the provider for the family and keeps the household running. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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SUMMER SEASON

WINTER SEASON

SLEEP

RALLI MAKING

COOKING

HOUSEHOLD CHORES

LEISURE TIME

MEALS

NAMAZ TIMINGS


// ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WOMAN Every woman in the village wakes up to the rising sun, full of energy to seize the day and start the list of never-ending list of chores. Once awake, they begin with the household chores such as sweeping the house and cleaning the utensils. Every 3-4 days the women go early in the morning to collect firewood for cooking. Once they are back, they cook the morning meal. They finish washing clothes, as well as feeding and taking care of the cattle. Normally during summers, after 12 noon, they begin with making rallis. The women all sit together in the veranda under a tree or a shed and make rallis. Normally during summers the women don’t go for work, and hence have a lot of time to sit making rallis. During winters though, the women go for work under the NREGA scheme, and don’t spend so much time making rallis. Also winters having shorter days, the workload of household chores is relatively much more. After 4 pm is when these women relax and enjoy some time together with family. They make chai for themselves and other family members and enjoy the evenings. They also meet friends sometimes or tend to their cattle. After 6 pm they again start cooking for the evening meal. They have dinner around 8 pm, clean up after everyone, and then go to sleep. The women do not necessarily do namaz 5 times a day, or regularly for that matter. The timings for namaz are 5.30 am, 2pm, 5pm, 7pm and 9pm.

A woman preparing ‘poor’ of the ralli by cutting old shirts Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Bismillah Bai cooking food for her entire family in the morning


// STAPLE DIET, EVERYDAY LIFE, BASIC SUSTAINANCE

As the provider of the house, the woman also carries the huge responsibility of feeding the household. One of her important duties as a wife, and a mother is to cook. The men of the family go to Jaisalmer every 3-4 days, to buy the basic requirements in the house. The women normally do not go to buy these things. The main items that they buy include dal, rice, vegetables- cauliflower, brinjal, fruits, etc. The wheat to make rotis comes from their farms, where wheat is grown. The village has its own grinder to grind the wheat into flour. The village gets its milk from cows, and those who don’t have cows get their milk from goats. In the olden times when they had camels, they drank camel milk. Also, they have their eggs from the hens in the village. They still cook on wood. They don’t have gas stoves as yet. Every few days, around 15-20 women go together to get wood from the forest. Staple diet – gehu ki roti, sabji – aloo, pyaaz, tomoto, bengan,. Ladiesfinger Dal- musoor/chana , Rice 2 meals in a day – 10am and 7-8pm If they feel hungry through the day, they eat this it self. Food is made separately for the morning meal and evening meal. Avid fans of tea. Keep drinking tea through the day to keep themselves hydrated. Everyday life – life is much more relaxed in the winters, compared to the summers. Socializing is a big part of their life. As there is nothing much to do apart from their daily chores, and craft activities, women often are seen sitting around together and chatting in the afternoons. A woman churning milk to be used for cooking Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Staple diet includes, bajre ka sogra, onions and buttermilk. Buttermilk and onions help the people survive in the summer heat


A woman cleaning utensils with the local sand.

Preparations for cooking. Rahima bai crushing the spices Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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// MAIN CRAFT, SUPPLEMENTARY CRAFTS

As in every culture, a craft is embedded as a part of culture and tradition, especially among the rural communities. These crafts reflect the way of life of the people, and contribute to their identity. In Basanpir Juni, the main craft practiced through out the village, and mainly among the Sindhi Muslims, is the craft of Ralli making. It is a craft very close to quilting, where in, in the first stage small triangular or square pieces of fabric are joined together to make a surface, and then layered together with other fabrics, in order to make a quilt. These Rallis hold a special significance not only as part of their main craft, but also as a part of their culture – may it be marriage or the practice of reading namaz. Apart from this main craft, other crafts include making rajais, kasheeda kaam, makhi ka kaam, kankani making, etc.

A woman showcasing ralli Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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VIII. RALLI - A BOND

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


A mother stitching a ralli for her daughter with love

A mother and her daughter


The daughter is one of the biggest support systems a mother has. Together they work around in the house and help out each other in the daily chores. Thus, the mother and daughter grow up to share a very special bond. One of the most important moments in the daughter’s and the mother’s life, is the daughters marriage. They both start preparing for the same, many years in advance. The most important and time-consuming preparation is that of making Rallis, which are basically traditional bedspreads. Thus, the practice of making Rallis isn’t just a craft, but something that strengthens the bond that the mother and her daughter share. The dowry system in India started with the intention of providing resources to ones daughters after marriage, so that they live a comfortable life. Amongst the Sindhi Muslims, this practice of dowry includes giving rallis, rajais, along with other basic necessities. As soon as the girl child is born, the mother starts preparing for her daughter’s marriage. These preparations mainly include making rallis and rajais. At the time of marriage, the objects that are given in dowry are displayed in front of the entire community and the mother with love and pride showcases each and every ralli. It is one of the most important objects given in the dowry. There are 21 rallis, 21 rajais, 1 musla (prayer mat), jewelry, utensils etc. that go with the daughter in her new house. The rallis and the other objects displayed at the time of marriage also reflect the wealth and prosperity of the bride’s side. It is not obligatory to give 21 rallis; it depends on the family’s wish and their economic status. The mother also gets rallis from her family. Sometimes, if they are in a good condition, they are added into the 21 rallis that are given to the daughter.

It takes about 4 Rallis at least, to settle her hand skills into the craft. She is at first taught the very basics like giving a straight running stitch on the back of the Ralli. Next, the mother cuts out triangular pieces for her daughter, while her daughter learns how to join them together. Even while learning how to appliqué, the mother initially cuts out the fabric, and the daughter only learns how to stitch the cutout fabric onto a base fabric. The practice of making rallis has been going on since many years. Earlier, when the odhnis of the women used to become old and redundant, they would re-use them to make rallis. Generally, the women would use an odhni for 12 months and then make a ralli out of it. They would either be used as the inside layer for filling, or as the top layer or both. Using cut pieces from different odhnis would make the border, hence there used to be no particular pattern in the rallis in the olden days. They also used to buy plain fabric from the market and make the top layer with it. Some women used to dye their own fabric in the colors they got from the Khatik and Kalaal community who used to come on donkeys and sell dyes. And to wash the fabrics, they would use ashes of a local shrub called ‘laani’. One ralli used to take 2 days to finish. Today, the rallis are made out of cutting triangular pieces and joining them together to create interesting patterns. No forms are used, as their religion does not propagate any use of forms. The patterns are geometrical and very colorful.

As the daughter grows up to understand the significance of Rallis in her life, she starts helping her mother with making the same. Around the age of 15, the daughter starts with learning the basics. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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IX. RALLI

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


Closeup of a ralli


// INTRODUCTION

Ralli quilts are a visual feast of color, pattern and energy. Rallis are made extensively in Pakistan in Sindh, Baluchistan, southern Punjab and in the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat bordering Sindh. The quilts are called “ralli” (or rilli, rilly, rallee or rehli) derived from the local word ralanna meaning to mix or connect. Rallis are made by women of rural villages, nomadic tribes and settled towns. These areas are filled with hundreds of different groups and castes differentiated by religion, mainly Muslim and Hindu, and occupation. The occupations include farmers, herders, various craftsmen, businessmen and landowners. The three basic styles of rallis are: 1) patchwork made from pieces of cloth torn into squares and triangles and then stitched together, 2) appliqué made from intricate, cut out patterns in a variety of shapes and 3) embroidered quilts where the embroidery stitches form patterns on solid colored fabric. A distinguishing feature of ralli patterning in patchwork and appliqué quilts is the diagonal placement of similar blocks. Special rallis made for weddings or gifts often have a variety of embellishments including mirrors, tassels, shells and embroidery. There is much individual expression and spontaneity in color within the traditional patterns resulting in a seemingly endless variety in rallis.

Pansari market, Jaisalmer

// RAW MATERIALS – SOURCING AND BASIC PREPARATION Rallis in the olden time and the rallis made today are quite the same, except with a few changes. Changing times need the craft to change as well. These changes include change in the use of raw material. In the olden times, Rallis were made out of pure cotton, due to easy availability of cotton fabric at a cheaper rate. Due to increase in the price of cotton, the people couldn’t afford buying such expensive fabric. Hence they have started using polyester instead. All the material, in the past and the present, was sourced from the Pansari Bazaar in Jaisalmer. As this is the closest market to the village, and all the required material is readily available, the villagers to prefer to go there.

Cut pieces of fabric to make a ralli Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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All the tools required to make a rallli

Woman using a needle to make straight stitches

Scissors

A threaded needle


// TOOLS AND MEASUREMENTS:

The main tools required apart from their own hands are, a needle, thread and a pair of scissors. All the resources are sourced from Jaisalmer. The women use their own hands and arms as units of measure while making the rallis. Generally the size of one motif is equal to one open hand. The width of the ralli without border is equal to two hands. They never use any rulers or meaurement tools, most of their measurments are made visually.

Woman measuring the motif Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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// THE PROCESS:

On gathering the necessary resources required to make the rally, they begin with cutting the different colours of fabrics into right angled triangles. 4 pieces of triangles come together to form a square. The women don’t cut all the triangles at the same time. They cut a few pieces everytime, enough to make a few squares. As the process of stitching these pieces take quite some time, the edges of the already cut pieces might fray. So they don’t cut them all together to avoid the same. Once they have joined a number of such triangles to form square units, the women then join the squares together. They join these diagonally. In this way, they make an entire surface by joining the square units. The main body and the border are made separately. The border is made in the form of a long strip, and is then joined to the main body, cut and joined back along the corners. On making the surface(kabri ralli), the next step is to make the middle layer (poor) and the lowermost layer (astar). The middle layer is composed of old clothes and fabrics, as well as old worn out rallis. The lowermost layer, or the back layer, is a flat coloured fabric, normally a colour which compliments the uppermost layer. The three layers are then placed one on top of the other, and given running stitches to bind all the three layers together. Also, the edges are secured well together in order to give a good finishing touch to the entire ralli. Sometimes they also introduce some more decorative elements such as laces, or gudiya, tassels, etc. which are attached along the corners of the ralli.

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On making the surface, the next step is to make the middle layer and the lowermost layer. The middle layer is composed of old clothes and fabrics, as well as old worn out rallis. The lowermost layer, or the back layer, is a flat coloured fabric, normally a colour which compliments the uppermost layer. The three layers are then placed one on top of the other, and given running stitches to bind all the three layers together. Also, the edges are secured well together in order to give a good finishing touch to the entire ralli. Sometimes they also introduce some more decorative elements such as laces, or gudiya, tassels, etc. which are attached along the corners of the ralli. Each ralli has its own name and identity. They are given names on the basis of pattern that they have or the purpose they are used for. The patchwork technique is called ‘kaccha’ kaam, wheras ‘pakka’ is applique. Rallis are commonly used as a covering for wooden sleeping cots called charpoys, storage bags, or padding for workers or animals after the quilts are worn out. In the villages, ralli quilts are an important part of a girl’s dowry. Special rallis are made for weddings or as gifts to holy men. There are legends, folk songs and sayings about rallis. Owning many ralli quilts is a measure of wealth in the rural areas. Yet the ralli is a humble craft, made of worn out clothing and other discarded fabric. It is not usually bought or sold but made by women for use in their family.

Ralli in use Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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// ENTIRE PROCESS OF MAKING A RALLI

Kaccho motif

Pakko motif

stitched together to form ‘kabri ralli’, the top layer

Border is made separately and later attached to the main surface


KABRI RALLI

POOR

ASTAR

ALL THREE LAYERS STITCHED TOGETHER

AADHO KACCHO- AADHO PAKKO RALLI Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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// COLORS USED IN RALLIS

PATANGIA | MAGENTA

RATTU KAATAL | MAROON

SAAU | GREEN

PEELO | YELLOW

NEERU | BLUE

KAATAL KAALO | BROWN

NAARANGU | ORANGE

MOR NIRU | PURPLE

KAALU | BLACK

ACCHU | WHITE

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GOLADO PATTO- AADHO KACCHO AADHO PAKKO RALLI

A ralli which has equal number of patch work and appliqué pieces stitched together.


GOLADO PATTO- POORO PAKKO RALLI

A ralli which has only appliquĂŠ (pakko) pieces put together. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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GOLADO PATTO- POORO KACCHO RALLI

A ralli which has only patch work (kaccho) pieces stitched together.


KAMBIRA PATTO- JAAJ RALLI

The pattern of this ralli is inspired by an aeroplane (jahaj) and hence its name. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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GOLADO PATTO- KURANJ RALLI

A ralli which has triangular pieces in a straight row is called a Kuranj ralli. One triangle is called a Kuranjadi.


GOLADO PATTO- TONKUA RALLI

A square motif is called a tonkua. Therefore, a ralli that has squares all over is called a Tonkua ralli. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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BITTA TONKUA PATTA- PEENGE WAALI RALLI

This ralli has concentric rectangles. Its gets its name from a child’s activity of rolling on the ralli.


AADHA TONKUA PATTA- DABBE WALI RALLI

This is a ralli which has four boxes (dabba) as the pattern. Hence the name. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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AADHA TONKUA PATTA- DHADANGE WALI RALLI

The patchwork motif seen is this ralli is called a dhadang in their local language. Hence the name.


GOLADO PATTO-KAMBIRISA RALLI

The motif in this ralli is called kambirisa in their local language. Hence the name. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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GOLADO PATTO- PAKKO KAMBIRISA RALLI

Due to the presence of appliquĂŠd motifs in the negative space, this ralli is called pakko kambirisa ralli.


MUSLA

A musla is a praying mat made out of the ralli technique. It has an extension to keep the forehead during namaz. It is generally made in pooro kaam. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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A girl showcasing a ralli which has newer design patterns


// SCOPE OF INNOVATION As seen earlier, rallis have a set language and pattern vocabulary that has been followed for ages. They are made out of cut pieces of square and triangles that strictly adhere to geometric patterns only; as Islam does not allow figurative representations in any form. The scope of innovation in ralli making lies only in cutting, say the women of Basanpir Juni. The way the motifs are cut and placed could change the entire look. Amongst them, the newer generation is more courageous and bold in changing and altering the designs according to their aesthetics and liking and trying out something new with each ralli they make. They play with the placements and overlapping of patterns in order to change a design. Some women also try to introduce new colors like yellow. The older generation of women prefer sticking to the old patterns and vocabulary.

Innovative cutting pattern for a ralli

Innovative cutting pattern for a ralli Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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The inner layers being exposed in the old and worn out rallis


WORN OUT RALLIS/ OLD RALLIS

The rallis that get old and worn out, are not thrown away. They are used as a base to put new rallis, or sometimes as the middle layer while making a new rallis. They are also used for children and babies in the cradle. Earlier, rallis would be made out of odhnis and the border would be made out of patches of different fabrics put together. There was only one old lady in the village who had a proper old ralli. Her other rallis were torn and were not in use.

Patch work border of one old ralli

Dadi, has some of the oldest rallis in the village Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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// SUPPLEMANTARY PRODUCTS

Pallis – the cement bag rallis joined together are called pallis. They are used around the house many a times and also as a base before laying out the rallis. Baguchi – bag to keep the quran Rallaki – to keep roti/chakki ( 1 hand * 1 hand) Bags – the bags which they make, were used to store things like sugar in the olden days. Nowadays, they make bigger versions of the same bag, to send things to the bride when she goes to her husbands house. Musla – prayer mat Gothli, - used to keep gehu and aata when they go to the farms.

A bag made out of the same technique to keep rotis

Bista bai with the bag to keep grains Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Perfectly stitched straight lines are traits of a master craftsman.


// MARKS OF A MASTER CRAFTSMAN

There are a number of signs of having mastered the craft of making rallis. One of them is being able to appliquĂŠ straight lines on the base fabric. Also, being able to do pakka kaam is a sign of having a good skill. The stitch lines when the three layers are stitched together also should be straight and even. (Sughad kaarigar) A few of the master craftswomen in the village are Bista bai, Jivani Bai, Rahima Bai, Bismillah Bai, Mariyam Bai and Hava Bai. These women are all amongst the older generation of women who are well versed and experienced in this craft.

Bista Bai, one of the master craftsman of the village. Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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X. CREATIVITY EXTENDED TO OTHER CRAFTS

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


A kashida blouse

Detail of the thread work

A closeup of the embroidery

Back side of Kashida sample


// KASHIDA WORK One of the major crafts that women of Basanpir do is ‘kashida’ or ‘mukke ka kaam’. It is a type of embroidery that is done by using gold threads onto the base fabric. It takes a lot of time and effort to make one small piece of a kashida sample; hence, not many women are fond of doing it. The older women of the village hold expertise in this craft, whereas, the younger generation refrains from doing it because of the time and labor required. The ‘kaanchli’ (upper blouse) that the women wear has kashida embroidery on it. It is embroidered in the front part as well as on the sleeves. There are other products like small bags and ‘baguchis’, a bag to keep the holy Quran, which are made by this technique. In earlier times, the Sindhi Muslims used to barter their kashida work for utensils with the Meghwal community twice a year. They also bartered it for food. These days, they sometimes give their old kashida work for something valuable. Nowadays, they also sell it to the fellow villagers for 500 rupees a piece. One embroidery piece for a bag takes about 3-4 months to make and on the other hand, kashida for kaanchli takes a month to finish. They first do the embroidery and then get the kaanchli stitched. The material- mukka (golden thread), thread, base fabric is sourced from Jaisalmer market. While embroidering, they take two layers and stitch them together. There are very typical motifs that are embroidered. DIAGARM Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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// MAAKHI KA KAAM The Mangalia women engage themselves in doing ‘maakhi ka kaam’, which is an ornamentation technique for the odhnis. It is basically crochet done on the edges of the odhnis to make them look more beautiful and finished. Baseera Bai loves doing Maakhi ka kaam on all her odhnis and believes that she looks prettier when she wears them. While doing this, the women have a particular posture, where they sit with a hunch back and secure one end of the odhni under their foot and work on the edge. They use polyester threads and beads that they get from Jaisalmer market. They also do it for fellow villagers for 200 rupees an odhni.

Posture in which they sit and do crochet

Baseera Bai wearing her odhni Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Kankani


// KANKANI BANANA Rahima bai is a woman from Pakistan who got married into a family which now lives in Basanpir Juni. She makes ‘kankanis’ and says, “ Yeh to humare Pakistan mein banti hain.” (These are made in our Pakistan). Kankanis are extended braids that are braided into a women’s hair to make them look longer. They have decorative elements at the end, which have colorful beads and threads to give weight and fall to the hair. Rahima bai makes these in the village and teaches it to her daughters and other women of the village as well.

Rahima Bai Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Objects made by the bead work technique


// BEAD WORK The Sindhi Muslim women also make small objects like ‘loombis’ (key chains), decorations for the combs, mirrors, ‘soormadaani’ (soot case), with beads. The wooden stick called ‘tallad’ that the groom carries at the time of marriage, is decorated with beads by his sister.

Detail on the tallad

Tallad, made by the groom’s sister, using beads Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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XI. AESTHETICS

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


// AESTHETIC SENSIBILITIES IN THE CRAFT

Aesthetic sensibilities in any craft are influenced by the way of living of that particular community. These sensibilities, once absorbed into the craft, are again reflected back into their lifestyle in different forms.

regarding decorative elements such as laces. Some women like it, others don’t. The lace has been in use on Rallis only since the past 10 to 15 years. Also, only on the Rallis where pakka kaam is done, do they put gudiya.

The women of Basanpir Juni also have strong tastes when it comes to the craft of Ralli making. They have very strong opinions about what looks good and what doesn’t. They are not very adventurous and do not venture out into introducing more colours. White is a colour, which is always used while making Rallis. Usually, the white portion is in the middle of the ralli, with all the different colours surrounding it, in a concentric manner. They also never use the selvedge of the cloth. They always tear of the selvedge before using the cloth.

There is a certain combination of colours which they obediently follow, which visually appeals to them the most. White and black, pink and green, blue and orange, maroon and white, purple and orange, yellow and blue, brown and white are the combinations commonly used. A very interesting factor in all this is the fact that none of the women draw any of these designs out on paper before starting to make it. They visualize it all in their mind, tweaking and modifying the design in the process of making it.

While making Rallis, they first make the entire main body and the border separately, and then join it together. Even while making the border, they first make a long strip of the border. They then attach it along the side of the main body, cutting it and joining it again, once one side is over. They do not join the corners of the border on a diagonal, but straight at a right angle. Once the uppermost and the main layer of the rally is made, they have to stitch all the layers together in order to make the final Ralli. Bista bai prefers using a black thread while giving a running stitch through all the three layers of the Ralli. According to her, the black colour looks better and subtler. The stitch lines given to bring all the three layers together, shows much more on the back side, than on the front. They do so, so that the stitch lines do not interfere with the design. While appliquĂŠing the design, the prefer using the thread of the same colour as the fabric, so that the design looks clean. Apart from the main elements of the Ralli, each of the women have varied opinions Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Stack of rajais on the wall in the courtyard

Use of ‘leher’ motif on the walls as a decorative element

A neatly stacked pile of rajais in the house


// AROUND THE HOME These sensibilities seen in the craft are very evidently transferred back into their daily lives and can be seen in various examples around the house. There are patterns made along the fireplace and even along the door frames which are patterns very similar to the ones seen in the rallis. They make these impression on the surface when they are wet and under construction. The neatness displayed throughout their house and the village is equal to the sort of fine geometry seen in the ralli patterns. Everything in the house and the village has an order to it. The rallis are kept neatly folded in a trunk and the rajais are kept one on top of another, on top of the trunk in a neat pile. The utensils are displayed along one of the walls; their clothes are hung up at one corner as well.

Leher motif on the doors of the house Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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XII. PRESENT CHALLENGES

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


Traditional Ralli versus printed ralli


// MARKET CONDITIONS

A new trend that has come up in the market today, and is quite a fatal competitor to the craft of ralli making, is the printed rallis available in the markets today. These rallis are readily available in the Jaisalmer markets. They are printed on polyester. On visiting the Jaisalmer Bazaar, we met Mr. Sandeep Khatri, owner of a shop selling these printed rallis in pansari bazaar, at ganesh chowk. He mentioned that the rallis are printed in surat for the past 4-5 years. The Bheel Nayak Samaj which is a Hindu community are said to have been responsible to make the printed rallis popular in India. They came and settled in India from Pakistan around 1982 to 1992. They now live about 4kms outside of Jaisalmer. They used to buy 100-150 pieces together and sell them in and around Jaisalmer.

“ kirane ki dukaan pe namak rakhna jaruri hai, waise humari dukan pe ralli rakhna jaruri hai.” – Suresh ji Deepak Vyas has a shop which sells rallis at the Jaisalmer fort for the last 10 years. He gives work to the women who know ralli making. For table runners he pays these women a sum of Rs. 60, while he sells it in the market for Rs.300. The bed sheet is produced at the cost of Rs.150, and sold at Rs.500. The appliqué work is produced at Rs.350, and sold at Rs.1000. Suresh ji Parihar is a shopkeeper at the pansari market. He in his own way, brings innovation into the design of the print rallis and gets them printed accordingly from Surat. He then exports these to Pakistan too.

Soon, about 5 to 6 years back, the khatris approached the Sindhi Muslims producing rallis, acquired the designs for these rallis and started printing them on fabric. They were able to replicate the design really well onto the fabric using the screen printing technique. These rallis were produced at a very low rate, and hence were available at a very affordable price. The printed rallis come in the form of a continuous fabric. The villagers buy the cloth at the rate of Rs.20/metre. They buy about 20-25 metres at a time from which they make 3-4 rallis. Even while making rajais, they use shaneel as the upper main surface, which they buy from the Jaisalmer market. The present rallis that the villagers make out of polyester fabric, should be priced at rs.5000, according to them. And the authentic ones made of cotton should be priced at rs.15000. These printed rallis do not even last for 1/4th the lifespan of an authentic ralli. Nowadays, the demand for printed rallis has reduced. Initially when they were launched in the market, for around 2-21/2 years the demand was really high. Now it has gone down.

Rallis for sale at the Jaisalmer fort Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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Printed rallis from surat.

Tweaked designs in the printed rallis

Women of the village using printed rallis as the top layer


// CHANGES IN RALLI MAKING OVER GENERATIONS

A lot of houses in the village use printed rallis today. They are affordable, and can be used regularly on a day to day basis without worrying much about their wear and tear. The printed rallis come in knit fabrics as well. They come in velvet and satin too. The first ralli design to have been printed on fabric and introduced into the market was the Jaaj Ralli. The people in the village are quite comfortable with the idea of printed rallis irrespective of the fact that the designs have been stolen from them and someone else misusing their craft and designs without giving the makers of the craft any recognition for the same. The villagers feel that there is too much hardwork which goes into making the authentic rallis, about 4-5 months for each ralli. Besides, there is no market for the authentic rallis as well. These days, when the women do not have enough time to make Rallis as part of dahej, they even give a few printed rallis as part of the 21 rallis. Lately, there has been an introduction of a circular element in the ralli design and is gaining popularity. This is an element which was not seen even in the authentic rallis before. According to Suresh ji, the demand for printed rallis will never go down, as they will keep innovating and bringing in new designs into the market. During the desert festival in feb, they exhibit their work – rallis, rajais, khalchiya, kasheeda kaam, parandis, ralli bags.

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014

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XIII. OUR REFLECTIONS

Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


It was the evening of 22nd October 2012, having almost given up our hopes of finding a village where the craft of Ralli making existed. Having spent the entire day traveling, and going from village to village, had lowered our expectations a great deal. It was around 7pm after sunset when we met a shepherd, with his cattle, on the Jodhpur - Jaisalmer highway. On enquiring, he took us onto a road which hardly had an lights on, and it was dark enough for us to have not expected there to be any village around. He took us through tiny lanes and we found ourselves at the entrance to a certain mud house, facing not just a woman with a slight limp, dressed in her traditional wear, but all the varied possibilities that were held in the uniqueness of her attire and its craft. For the next 12 days, we became a part of them, their lives, their culture, studied their craft and experienced their lifestyle. The craft of Ralli making truly is a major part of their lifestyle and traditions. The importance of the Ralli can be seen through the various experiences which we shared with them. With the changing times, the craft having undergone quite a change, their attachment to the craft still remains as is, stronger than ever. They stick to their traditions and rituals like they always did, accepting the changes along the way. Though we spent a very short period of time understanding them, and engaging in their lives, we definitely understood our culture and where we come from better. Our daily conversations over endless cups of chai, strengthened our connection with the people and their craft. Every morning the children of the village would run up to us, greet us, and then go to school. We felt like we belonged there.

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Isha Pimpalkhare


Shambhavi Tiwari Ralli- A Bond / Craft Documentation / Textile Design / National Institute Design / 2014


BIBLIOGRAPHY

• Sharma, Nand Kishore, Jaisalmer Ka Samajik evam Sanskratik Itihas (Social and Cultural History of Jaisalmer), Seemant Prakashan, Jaisalmer, Second Edition 2011 • Sharma, Nand Kishore, Jaisalmer: The golden city, Seemant Prakashan, Jaisalmer, 2011 • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralli_quilt | February 2014 • http://quilted-out-of-space.blogspot.in/p/ralli-quilts-new.html | February 2014 • http://www.indus-crafts.com/rilli-art.html#.UyCO7OeSxe8 | February 2014 • http://www.amazon.com/Ralli-Quilts-Traditional-Textiles-Pakistan/ dp/0764316974 | February 2014 • www.maps.google.com | February 2014

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Craft documentation  

We at the National Institute of Design, undertake Craft Documentation, a research based module, which enables us to understand the tradition...

Craft documentation  

We at the National Institute of Design, undertake Craft Documentation, a research based module, which enables us to understand the tradition...

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