The Banjara community is believed to have descended from Roma gypsies of Europe who traveled across the rugged mountains of Afghanistan into the deserts of Rajasthan in north India thousands of years ago before migrating down into southern states, which includes Karnataka. ‘Banjara’ is the name given to this tribal group by the British during their rule, but they are traditionally known as Lambadi and Ghor. They are currently involved mainly in construction and agricultural labor work. 

It is believed that they sold salt till Ghandhiji fought for free salt, as it did not earn them living after that. The men involve themselves in construction and other labor work, which is not economically sufficient to take care of their family and children’s education. This lead to the starting of their migrating to neighboring cities and states. In order to curb the migration, Sabala has made an effort to generate income through craft to improve the quality of their lives.

The Banjara Craft 

Banjara original tribal art is the pride of the nation. This art has been passed from generation to generation, mother to daughter. Due to globalization and development in the 19th century, changes have been made in the livelihoods of all people including the Lambani. This resulted in the change of traditional costumes along with traditional handicraft including Banjara hand embroidery. These days, this Banjara hand embroidery is declared as languishing art. The references are found in Rigveda, Yejurveda, Atharvaveda and ancient literature regarding this art. Sabala is making an effort to preserve this cultural and historical heritage.

Mirror work is the unique feature of Banjara handicraft. Banjaras, who were nomads, used mirrors on their clothes to protect themselves from the wild animals. When the wild animals saw themselves in the mirrors they ran away. Banjaras lived in the forests so readymade clothes were not available to them. They used old clothing to made patchwork clothing in place of the new items. They made ghagra cholis, quilts, and batwas for themselves. Presently, Sabala has made an effort to use their skills in making products that suit the current lifestyle of the people. The products include bags, cushion covers, bed spreads, jewelries, wall hangings, and many more similar products.

Design Catalog 2013

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