How would you feel if you spotted a gorgeous ‘banjara’ bag with mirrors, coins, cawry shells and a stunning pom-pom in fucshia, orange and green – just perfect with that white shirt and blue denims you have – and someone bought it while your thoughts took you to ‘visualization land’ with the bag? Disappointed, right? And what if this happens twice over, like it did last week with me! I was totally gutted and on a mission to get it somehow 🙂
I am not a big fan of mirrors and cawry shells on clothing, but there was something so spectacular about this bag that I spotted at FabIndia that I was a changed person! Have you ever wondered why the embroidery styles on on these banjara bags are so vastly different? Some come with cawry shells, and some don’t; some have chain stitch embroidery with mirrors and some don’t – well, the answer lies in the origin of the embroidery. While they are loosely clubbed as ‘Banjara’ embroidery, they could be from the Lambani (Lambanis, elsewhere known as “Banjaras”, who originally came from Marwar are semi-nomadic people who reside mostly in Southern and Middle India) or Rabari tribe (who are a nomadic / semi-nomadic community of cattle raisers living in the western region of India, from Rajasthan to the Kutch region in Gujarat. They migrated into this region from Sindh (now in Pakistan)) and could be hailing from Jaipur, Kutch or Hampi! Remember, their nomadic longings have taken the tribe all over India!
The Lambani embroidery is an amalgam of pattern darning, mirror work, cross stitch, and overlaid and quilting stitches with borders of “Kangura” patchwork appliqué, done on loosely woven dark blue or red handloom base fabric. Lambani embroidery is commonly mistaken as Kutchi (Kachhi) embroidery because of mirror work, but shells and coins are unique to this type of embroidery. Also, the stitches used are different. There are 14 types of stitches used in Lambani embroidery. Products made with such embroidery have wonderful textures and a bohemian style. The Rabari embroidery on the other hand, is characterized by chain stitches and a generous use of mirrors. (Source: Gaatha)
Did you know that the different styles of bags follow a specific nomenclature too? The Zolana – a shoulder bag with exquisite embroidery work and a long strap to hang it over the shoulder. On the edges of the bag sea shells (cawry) and pom-poms made of colourful woolen yarn are attached too. The Chunchi is a square shaped bag traditionally used to keep bread bhakari. If you come across a bag with a patch like a chess board, like I did, be aware that this was originally the Pat, similar to a chess board and used by women to play an indoor game. Yet another style is the Kothalo, which is a sac like big bag used for shopping. Personally for me, knowing more about the origin of the product, and a dash of history adds to its exotic quotient. Don’t you think so? I found this piece very interesting and picked up some bits for you to read.
Well, I have been scouting around for ‘banjara’ bags and here are my top picks for you lovely people – some available in shops, and some are just for inspiration. Go on….browse away and maybe pick up one from your favourite store!
Have I managed to convince you to get your very own ‘banjara’ bag? If the answer is yes, have a look at Moonriver, Be Traditional, Lotus Craft and Vishal Handicrafts. Of course, if you are heading to Jaipur anytime, have a peep at a shop I found in one of my sojourns to the city – Panpaliya in the Hawa Mahal Bazaar! Some of them don’t offer online shopping, but you can always speak to them and they will be happy to help!
I’ve picked mine from Jaipur and am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival. The tote, the hobo style or a simple crossbody, you are bound to fall in love! Get your personal favourite today!