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COVER PAGE

Miraas a story of generations...


This coffee table book is written and designed by Anuriti Sarkar Harshita Chahal Kanishka Rastogi Krisanne Dsouza Niharika Mavuri Shreya Agarwal Fashion Communication 2016-20


A story from the flowing lehriya waves


‘Small city, big traditions, even bigger hearts.’


B

Acknowledgments

ringing this book to life would have been impossible to complete without the cooperation and help of Mrs.Zaitubi Maniad, Mr.Javed, Mrs. Raheesa Bano, Mr.Matin-ur-Rahman and the rest of the active members of the cluster who helped us get all the pieces of information to put together for this book. Sincere thanks to Mr.Vinesh Tapre and Mr.Sudeepta for their guidance and encouragement throughout the duration of this craft cluster. Heartfelt thanks to Mrs.Susmita Das whose constant support and instant feedback helped us to give our best. We would also like to express our gratitude to other faculties at NIFT who provided us the opportunity to embark on this cluster and special mention to Ms. Anusha Gawade for her constant advice. Finally, big thanks to the place Achalpur, Maharashtra for giving us a great experience that compelled us to share it with everyone through this book.


B

About the book

ehind the walls of the stone grey fort lies the well-kept secret of Achalpur. It is one of the oldest legacies of the place- the lac bangle craft. The craft now being practised by only two families has a story of its own. Just like how fine lac has to be expertly picked and flourished, this village was chosen by a family eight generations ago. Filled with equal parts of urban and rural, Achalpur seems like a place of olden times. The narrow lanes within the area lead you amazing handicrafts, aesthetic doors and local markets. Through the hustle bustle of the streets, we captured the best moments that made us fall in love with the place and the craft. We wanted you to notice this small place and fall in love with it too. Join us on the journey from lac to bangles and from colourful doors into the houses of these beautiful people.


01

Introduction

25

Craftsmanship

05

People and attire

29

Product range


11

17

Markets

41

46

Glossary

Culture and Heritage

Artisans


Visiting a place 17 hours away from Mumbai, Maharashtra by train in the month of June can be daunting but worthwhile. 1


We were welcomed by the light drizzle and green pastures with rows of colourful houses. Such is the city of Amravati, Maharashtra which is equal parts urban as it is rural. You will find bullock carts and bikes, supermarkets and everyday mandis and kaccha- pakka houses coexisting.

Introduction 2


O

ne and a half hour away from Amravati is Achalpur, a place that never lost its charm to the evolving times. From ancient ruined forts to vibrantly coloured houses, it seems as if with the passage of time, each door, and each window has a story to tell. The place is a blend of Hindu and Islam religions which is visible in its culture, food, architecture and crafts. You can rent a car or use the local bus to commute to Achalpur from Amravati. Within Achalpur, people use autos, rickshaws and bikes to travel.

3

Every door has a story to tell


The temperatures can be harsh and humid in the month of June. Locals predominantly speak Hindi. The roads become narrow and muddy as the vehicle nears the destination. Achalpur is a breezy, quiet, calm place with hues of browns and greens all around and the occasional pop of bright blue, pink, purple and yellow. As we travelled through the narrow lanes of kaccha-pakka houses and colourful doors, our interest to know more about its history, traditions and people piqued.

The rustic vibe of the village was breathtaking

4


Their legacy is passed on from generation to generation...

5


One such story is of Late Mr. Abdul Rehman and Mrs. Zaitubi Maniad (81), whose previous generation of the family brought the old craft of Lac Bangles to Achalpur as they moved from Sikar to Ajmer to Pocher or the ‘Nawabon ka Gaon’ as they say. The business started in a kaccha house or the ‘Mitti ka Ghar’.

People and Attire 6


T

he craft was initially practised as a form of survival but later on became their legacy and now they are one of the two main families practising this craft in the area. Their legacy is passed on from generation to generation keeping this craft alive. Mrs. Zaitubi Maniad is an old woman with a zest for life and interesting stories to tell, being the eighth generation in line to have been practicing this craft. Lac bangles have become a part of her life. She was introduced to the art of making bangles at a young age and decided to pursue the craft under the name of ‘Rajasthan Bangles’.

7


“Meri photo lo na!” “Meri bhi lo! Meri bhi lo!”

The kids of the area also help the elders in managing the shop, and in the packaging of the bangles. However once they saw us with our cameras and different attire, they got excited and wanted to get their photos clicked. At that time all that could be heard ringing through lakhera was the sound of their voices eagerly saying “Meri photo lo na”, “Didi, meri bhi lo, meri bhi” Kids of the area dress conservatively- boys in shirts and pants and girls in salwar-kameez with a dupatta or a hijab wrapped around their head. Young girls like to put on makeup and often times wear lac bangles.

The yin and yang of Lakhera lane

8


9

A story of generation


No one can underestimate the power of a woman with a goal and being an 81-year old has not lessened her zest for the craft. Zaitubi’s daily routine is simple- she wakes up at 5 in the morning and starts her day by reading the holy Quran, opens the shop and sells bangles along with her daughter-in-law, Raheesa Bano.

Zaitubi in her element

10


The culture and heritage resides in the heart and soul of the people

11


In just a short amount of time, we were enraptured by the place and captivated with its lifestyle. It’s easy to see how the people have gotten used to the slow and steady way of living. We often lack and crave that in our fast-paced life. here’s a good feeling in our hearts when we all look down to see lac bangles nestling our wrists and in our bags. We were definitely going to miss this place.

Culture and Heritage 12


A lac bangle basket as a gift for the inlaws

13


T

he families pass on their legacy from generation to generation during wedding processions. Usually, the daughter-in-law gifts her in-laws beautiful handcrafted products made of lac. Living a simple life and making the most of what is available around is a learning that we took back with ourselves. Zaitubu also showed the box that was made by their family for their daughters wedding. It was a stunning jewellery box that was mad from lac and had alot of embelleshments on it. A soft velevet layer was added inside the box to protect delicate jewellery. This box was indeed a grand affair!

“Isse accha tofa aur kya ho sakta hai?�

The traditional red and gold wedding colors intrigued us and it made Zaitubi blush with excitment as she felt good to see a young and modern generation take interest in such a traditional craft.

14


A special bond

A special thing that we noticed in this place was their unity; the way they all worked together in an orderly manner, it was quite inspiring. Everyone had contributed in some or the other way in the whole process. It was like the craft helped in keeping the whole family into working together.

15


Excited faces

The community is very closeknit and they value their traditions. If you happen to approach the place around the festive season, you will be greeted by the voices of various women asking for different sizes, colours or patterns for different bangles.

If you happen to have a camera in hand, you might be amused by how every child will start posing and ask you to click their pictures.

The happiest crowd of the lane are the children who help their mothers with the storing and selling of the bangles.

16


Ranging from small knick knacks to clothing and shoes, they have almost everything

17


The close-knit connections of the place work for them as the shops run on individual relationship and faith of the families. If you ask any shopkeeper for directions and if he happens to have a child or a helper of his shop nearby, he wouldn’t hesitate to send him along with you to make sure you reach the place.

Markets 18


These markets consisted of almost everything, from varieties of fruits, vegetables to clothings, shoes and lots and lots of bangles.

Rainbow tinted circles of light

Bangles made of glass, plastic and lac can be found in the lanes of Achalpur.

Locally made alcohol in the market

19


Stalls of ‘pani-puri’, ‘chaats’, fruit juices and varieties of other street food were available in every nook of the market. Street hawker

20


I

nitially, lac bangles were used only for ritualistic and religious purposes but with changing times the usage has also changed. Today, these bangles are used not only for their religious importance but also have become a fashionable accessory.

Lehriya styled bangles 21


The market strategies are to create or produce throughout the year and only sell during festivals. As times changed, new demands came up, people have started coming up with their own designs and no longer commit to take what they see. Now they show references and get customizations done on the bangles. They led to the evolution of this craft in terms of colours, textures and patterns. The craftsmen from the cluster are very proud of their craft. Even though they may have acquired higher education and moved out from the cluster, they still continue to practise the craft. This form of dedication is remarkable.

Traditionally handcrafted wedding chuda

22


23


Panja - the tool of creation

Apart from the lac bangle craft practised in Lakhera Lane, the Punja Dhurrie craft is also another craft being practised in Achrakpura, a place next to Achalpur. It is headed by Mr. Zainul Abeddin. The dhurries are hand woven using a Panja and are usually 5-7 feet in length. They are colourful, attractive and can be customised according to your need. Earlier, as many as 2000 families used to practise this craft but now merely one or two families are sustaining.

Endless metres of dyed yarns

Weaving a community

Colourful threads of their legacy

The rich colours of the craft

24


These craftsmen are not only creating the craft, they are carrying forward a legacy.

25


The artisans use tools and work with precision. They let their trained and expert hands guide them as they sculpt out bangles made out of Lac and add embellishments on top.

Craftsmanship 26


U

sually, the men of the household work on the coal burner to make the bangle and the women work on the designs. The designs are authentic and can be customized too. They use a variety of hand made tools that makes the handling on lac easier. The simple actions of spinning and rolling create beautiful art pieces that adorn the wrists of women of all ages.

Colourful building blocks

27


The women eagerly wait for festive season to buy these bangles as it is considered auspicious in our country. Adorning women for centuries

28


With changing times, these artisans have also changed the way we perceive this craft.

29


What initially started out as just a lac bangle business has diversified as of today. They have explored a variety of options and have moved on from lac bangles to lac jewellery boxes, lac storage boxes, lac pens, lac mirrors etc. They use this material as if it were gold and refuse to waste even an ounce of it. We were intrigued to know how leftover water is used in nail paints to give them the long lasting quality.

Product Range 30


31


Exquisite craftsmanship

32


T

hey also explained how it is also used in paint mixtures for airplanes as it is light in weight. However, lac undergoes a tedious extraction and filtration process and is largely sought after by cosmetic and paint companies which is why these age old craftsmen try to protect it with all their heart. They believe in passing down the family tradition to the generations to come so they can keep this magical story and craft alive till the end of time.

33


A condiments box made with lac and mirror work

Peeking inside 34


Simpler designs

Colourful lac bangles with studded rhinestones for everyday use.

35


Gold studded lac bangles, especially used for occassions like wedding and receptions.

Daily wear bangles

Wedding chuda set 36


Studded lac bangles made with cold lac.

37

Simple rhinestone studded lac bangles.


Decorated lac jewellery boxes.

38


From simple round lehriya bangles to studded and stylised colourful lac bangles. Stacks of varities of lac bangles kept in shelves.

39


Colourful lac boxes for decorations.

40


The artisians are keeping Lakera lane alive with their crafts.

41


Although Achalpur is a small place, people don’t know much about the cluster of artisans residing in Lakhera lane. The craftsmen live in a community where the craft is appreciated and sought after. They have frequent customers and clients. They have a good business but considering the current economic scenario, e-commerce will help them sustain their craft. According to some craftsmen, though it was on their mind, they got encouragement from students of NIFT and faculties who visited them.

Artisans 42


W

ith the craft being around for centuries, these artisians are now looking for new and improved menthods in terms of product sales so as to maximize profits as well as with the inentio of sustaining the craft. No help is considered to little to them and they are also approaching colleges like NIFT that take an initative in the matter

Interviewing the family

43


With the ever increase use of smartphones, the middle ages people involved in the craft are looking toward e-commerce options

An artisan at work

44


45


Miraas - passing on traditions and culture from generation to

generation Mandis - local markets which include sale of vegetables, garments, footwear, etc Kaccha house- houses made up of mud bricks and cow dung Pakka house - houses made with bricks and cement Nawabon ka gaon - Village of the nawabs Lakhera - Lac bangle maker

Glossary 46


Behind the walls of the stone grey fort lies the well kept secret of Achalpur. The Lac Bangle craft is one of the oldest legacies of this place. Follow us through the journey as we travel, experience and explore Achalpur in all its forms and glory. Get enchanted by the equal parts of urban and rural, narrow lanes, aesthetic doors and local markets.

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