2000 - 2015

Hansiba Museum: Ahir Styles

SEWA Hansiba Museum

SEWA Hansiba Museum is a host to heirlooms from the local community. The museum is managed by women, and contains the fine examples from each of their comminities. This exhibit focuses on the Ahir Style.

Ahir Traditions
The Ahir's consider themselves as the descendants of Lord Krishna who belonged to the Yadavakaul. Some People mention that Ahir was a name derived from Abhira, a tribe mentioned in inscriptions and several Hindu sacred books. Socially they place themselves in the middle of the hierarchy between Rajputs and Brahmins. This community of Choradiya Ahirs is an agro-pastoral community. Apart from practicing agriculture this community is also known to have practising pastoral activities like cattle rearing. The land of Chorad is a dry arid region which has historically been used by various pastoral groups, for herding purposes. Local folk songs, sung on occasion of marriage, mention how the daughter requests the father not to get her married into Chorad as life will be difficult with the travails of fetching water from far off and deep wells.

Traditional Ahir embroidery and drape are bright colours with dense motifs. Different mirror shapes are used to enhance the design made in the fabric.

Here, an Ahir woman is dressed in the beautiful kamkho and ghagharo for the Hindu festival Janmashtami (commemorating the birth of Lord Krishna).

Festivals imply gaiety and grandeur, and the best dresses are brought out.

Here, an Ahir girl is dressed in the beautiful Kaanchadi and Ghagharo for Janmaashtami in Dhokavada village.

Ahir girls dressed in bright attires, playing 'kikli', a local favourite spinning game.

Ahir Women With Traditional Ornaments

An Ahir bridegroom wearing a mushrro jacket, and a wedding hat lined with mushroo fabric.

Groom seated and in preparations for the wedding.

The Hansiba Museum Collection
The Hansiba Museum is unlike any other. All the objects in the collection are heirlooms donated by various members of the collective. It is located in the neighbourhood so that it is still part of their collective heritage. It is a gathering place for women, created by women.The women treasure their family heirlooms; the skirt that belonged to her great grandmother, or the blouse embroidered by an aunt who was renowned for the fineness of her stitches. Yet life and life-styles are changing - educated young girls get office jobs that demand urban clothing. So the women decided to build a museum and named it after Hansiba, one of the oldest craftswomen at SEWA. In the Hansiba Museum, women artisans also donated articles of their daily life — the grinding stone, the brass and copper vessels, the water pots and bathing vessels.
Ghaghro
Morwala  ghaghro or skirt with mochibharat embroidery on coarse handwoven red cotton, locally referred to as “gaajiyokaapad”. The fabric is specially woven in SantalpurinRadhanpur Taluka.

Ghaghro – Embroidered skirts worn by the Ahir women on special occasions. The Main fields has the tree and peacock motifs while the border innovatively uses the gotaphool (Marigold Flower)motif repeated in different sizes with a dominance of yellow and white colours. The jhamar motif divides the main field from the border.

Ghaghro – Ceremonial skirt worn by the bride during the fera or vow taking ceremony. It has a striped mashru or satin weave silk-cotton body and an embroidered border called Surajmuki nu phool(Sun Flower motif). The mashru is specially sourced from Mandvi in Kutch area of Gujarat.

Embroidered Skirts Worn by the Ahir women on special occasions.

The main field has the tree and peacock motifs while the border innovatively uses the gota phool (marigold flower) motif repeated in different sizes with a dominance of yellow and white colours. The jharmar motif divides the main field from the border.

Ahir Style Kapdu

Woman’s bodice worn by a mother during her son’s marriage. This backless blouse can be worn for a maximum of two days. Embroidered kavadiya motif is complemented with white rickrack borders and rectangular mirrors.

Backless Kapdu

Married daughters wear this red backless blouse one year after their marriage at the time of going to their sasural or husband's home.in the third year,they wear a yellow kapdu. The breast yoke is embroidered with the machi or sitting stool motif,while the waistband has the kavadiya motif

Finely embroidered backless blouse in mochi bharat style belonging to the Ahir Brahmins.

Traditional Male Attires
Jhuladi - Garment worn by small boys. It has a heavily patterned yoke in typical Vagadia style of hand embroidery with abundant use of the white colour and distinctive abstract motifs. The embroidery is balanced by the use of tie and dye green satin fabric and gold readymade border. The main motif is called boriya.

Aahir Community's Brothers wear a kediyu

Choyana: Lower garment Traditional trouser of Ahir community Men

Kediyu (upper garment) form Ahir community Men

Ahir -Vaajno – Embroidered drawstring trouser for a new born baby. Normally part of a set of 5 pieces, these trousers are characterized by their wide cut. The bottom opening has button closure for ease of wear.

Dharaniyo (Decorative Textile Covers)
Decorative textile covers used to cover the household quilts when not in use. The main field has a geometric checkerboard pattern called hameervallo balanced with the Paanch Khapwala cheer bapore motif on the borde

Dharaniyo

Decorative textile covers used to cover the household quilts when not in use. The main field has a geometric checkerboard pattern called hameervallo balanced with the Paanch Khapwala cheer bapore motif on the bordes

Ahir Style Dharaniyo

Decorative textile covers used to cover the household quilts when not in use. The main field has a geometric checkerboard pattern called hameervallo balanced with the Paanch Khapwala cheer bapore motif on the borders.

Ahir Woven textile cover beautifully embroidered depicting the celebration of Lord Krishna's birth.

The central motif represents the courtyard of the house surrounded by figurative motifs: Mahiyaran - represents gopis, tree of life, flowers, peacocks and elephants

Ahir Style Dharaniyo

The dharaniyo is draped over the pile of quilts or sleeping mattresses kept on top of a wooden stool or a table. The motifs embroidered in sadu bharat style are the tree of life, flowers, bavaliyo and chutto bavaliyo. The floral border is called ghed. The frame of blue colour adds to the vibrancy of the piece.

Chakla are square household decorations hung on the walls usually in pairs.They are decorated with embroidered stitches and mirrors.

All the bags are embroidered by the Ahir, Rabari and Chaudhari Patel community women. These are meant for their nomadic lifestyle and celebration of life. Each bag has a designated usage which determines the style of the bag as well as its embroidery. Close attention is paid to minute details, so that the best work may come of the skillful hands of the desert artisans.

Theli (Bags)

These large sized dowry bags are used by the Ahir Community women to carry clothes to her married home. The bag is embroidered with an eclectic mixture of their traditional motifs - hameervallo, cheer bapore and floral pattern.

Toran

Rectangular embroidery door panel hung over entrances to welcome God and people in their house.

Paan Toran is an embroidered wall decoration hung underneath the Gokhlo or the niche in the wall for the oil lamps near the entrance of the house. It can be used on small windows of the kitchen or store rooms too.The Toran is often complemented with Paan Toran on either side.

Ahir Style Pankha (Fan)

Double sided hand fan characterized by embroidery on both surfaces and layering detail on the edge. It has a wooden hand painted handle. Used for everyday purpose.

Ahir style Kavadiya

A kavadiya is like a palkhil carrier (head gear) composed of a stick balanced on the shoulders with hanging pots on either side to carry water.

Household Items

'Matina Thala Vali Ghanti'

The millet, bunty, mugs, mutt, is used to grind salt
at the mill stone.

Lakda na thala vali ghanti-Traditional Stone Grinder with Wooden Cover.

It is used for grinding Wheat,Wheat Split,chickpea ,Fenugreek and Turmeric Grinding.The stone comes from crops.So it is in the grain grinding.

This 'Matlu' (earthen pot) is used for making butter and buttermilk. As it takes some time, women will sit arount on a while performing the task together.

Lakda Ni Khandani (wooden mortar & pestle) and Masaliyu (storage container)

The Mortar made of timber is used for bashing garlic and other spices like cloves, cardamoms, peppers, ginger etc. Masaliyu is a storage containier used for fill up these kitchen spices.

Bullock cart is used by the largely agrarian community from where the SEWA artisans come for agricultural purposes.

SEWA Hansiba Museum
Credits: Story

Online exhibit:
Reema Nanavaty
Tejas Raval
Parul Sagarwala
Neeta Trivedi
Savita Patel

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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