The world where Nagina woodcarvers live and work
A common scene in a village household in Nagina. A woman prepares fodder for cattle.
Planks of mango wood lie on the side of a lane, to get seasoned, in Nagina.
Wood craftsmen in their workshops in the narrow lanes in the small town of Nagina define their way of life.
The largest wood sourcing unit in Nagina is known for its multi-dimensional functions including storing, seasoning, selling of wood and wood products as well as providing formal training to aspiring crafts people.
The whole town of Nagina is absorbed in wood craft ranging from beautifully carved wooden frames to simple wooden brackets for curtain rods.
Asha Handicrafts, a wood craft workshop supervised by skilled wood craftsman Yog Raj, is based in the humble rural setting of Qaziwala village near Nagina in Uttar Pradesh.
Life in Qaziwala village of Uttar Pradesh still follows the old classic ways of having hand pumps for water, cattle rearing for farming and produce, and cow dung for fuel and fertilizer.
A wooden cart parked outside a small hut in the Qaziwala village in Bijnor, reflects an innate aspect of a rural lifestyle.
Pritam Singh makes charpoys at his home in Qaziwala village in Uttar Pradesh. The simply crafted charpoy is a low cost bed made of a bamboo frame, mango wood legs and a body woven with rope made of a local grass.
The peaceful simplicity of Qaziwala village belies its importance as a well-known area for fine wood work.
Yogi Raj, a wood master craftsman from Qaziwala, relishes his lunch break while feeding his dog, and watches his daughters play.
The image demonstrates the quality of life in a village household, which celebrates closeness in family relationships.
Girls play tic-tac-toe and block puzzle games with toy made of rose wood. The creation of wooden games combines traditional craft techniques with new artefacts.
There is an increase in direct contribution of women in the wood craft industry.
Matriarch of family, Omvati, equally contributes in the making of wooden items as her husband at their family owned workshop.
Women’s creativity in this craft industry is no more domestic or non-professional.
Prerna Rani firmly holds a saw to create a delicate comb out of a wood log. She learnt this craft from her father.
Mohammed Marghoob practices brass inlay in his father’s workshop in Seelampur, New Delhi. He aspires to be a National Award-winning wood craftsman like his father, Mohammed Matloob.
He grew up playing in and around the workshop and today works as an apprentice there.
Sadiya uses drill machine to prepare a piece of wooden board for jaali (lattice) work. As a child she sat beside her father, playing with carving tools.
Shaheen Anjum teaches wood carving to her daughters. She excels in pattern drawing and jaali (lattice) making being born and married into a wood craftsmen’s family.
Swaleha adds some life and laughter to an otherwise dull looking wood workshop, while adding a jaali (lattice) design on a wooden coaster.
On a Friday afternoon the narrow lanes of Seelampur in East Delhi, get filled with colourful prayer carpets. Men gather to offer namaaz, while sermons from the Quran play on a loudspeaker in the background.
A humble biryani shop next to Mohammed Matloob’s workshop produces around 70 kgs of biryani on a regular day.
The journey of a wooden artefact starts from logs collected from different rural pockets of India to their transformation as objects sought after across the world.
Text: Rashmi Sacher
Photography: Subinoy Das
Artisans: Mohammed Matloob and his team of apprentices, Yog Raj and his team of wood carvers.
Ground Facilitator: Rashmi Sacher
Documentary Video: Subinoy Das
Curation: Ruchira Verma