A look at the world in which the Lambani embroidery flourished
Rock climbing at Hampi brings into sharp focus the landscape and history of the region. The sculptured quality of the rocks is also a photographer’s delight.
The carved gopura (ornate tower at the entrance of Hindu temples in Dravidian architecture) of the Krishna temple.
The Krishna temple was erected in 1515 by Krishnadevaraya, an emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire who reigned from 1509–1529, to commemorate his victory over the Gajapati rulers of Orissa.
The Krishna temple complex consists of a twenty five bay open mandapa (columned hall), an enclosed nine bay mandapa with side porches, and a towered sanctuary surrounded by an unlit passageway.
Stone carvings from the Krishna temple, known for its exquisite and elegant architectural designs.
Stone carving of a beautiful maiden clutching a creeper, on the doorway jamb of the Krishna temple's gopura passageway.
Though somewhat hastily finished, judging from the poor quality of the carving, the Krishna temple is a monument that is typical of 16th century architecture.
Minor shrines are positioned near the outer corners of the Krishna temple, with a double-sanctuaried goddess temple to the north.
The main road which continues winding through the outer enclosure of the Krishna temple complex passes by a footpath which leads to the monolithic Narasimha.
The colossal statue which is 6.7 metres high, portrays the man-lion form of Vishnu, seated in yogic posture beneath a multi-headed naga, topped by a monster mask. Walls with doorway jambs, vestiges of a giant square chamber that was never finished, surround the monolith.
Garuda carving on a temple in Hampi.
Kumaraswamy Temple, a major cultural reference in Sandur, is a Hindu temple built between the 8th-10th century.
Village life in Sandur is the same as anywhere else in rural India. Tending to animals and threshing wheat is for working hours.
Embroidery in individual homes happens in the shade, in the quiet of the afternoon.
Lambani women who prefer to wear their traditional attire all the time feel no discomfort in working, carrying children or travelling across the world, wearing all that ornamentation.
In most parts of India, women are more industrious and work at something or the other even in their leisure hours, while menfolk sit around relaxing and engaging in conversation.
It is quite natural for Lambani women to occupy their leisure hours either embroidering alone, in twosomes or in groups if they are working on a large order for a client.
Symbols of a modern world, in the form of a motor cycle, mix easily with an age-old traditional world of the lambanis.
Girls of the Lambani community are taught to embroider from an early age. They may not follow traditional dress codes, but they are steeped in the skills and colours of their tribe.
A group of women of all ages work together to keep each other company, even if they are all not working on the same client’s order. At times, they keep old samples with them to follow colour ways or stitches. As usual, the man is only an observer!
An elderly Lambani woman embroiders a more intricate piece while a young girl has been given a simpler design to follow.
It has larger mirrors and does not need very complicated stitches.
All Lambani women dress in full finery irrespective of their age. Their heavy silver ornaments, flashing mirrors stitched on to the garments, flared skirts with heavily embroidered borders are a part of what makes them show their identity.
They are proud inheritors of a colourful nomadic tradition when women wore all their finery while they travelled over mountains and deserts with their livestock and belongings.
Not only is Lambani embroidery intricate. They have silver jewellery, full of chains and beads, that dangle from different parts of their hair and clothes.
There are elaborate ornaments for the upper and lower arm, ankles, nose and ears. At times, they lodge a small lemon within the chains dangling from a cluster of braided hair on either side of their face, for auspicious reasons.
Text: Jaya Jaitly
Photography: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Artisans: Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra
Ground Facilitator: Ankit Kumar Singh
Documentary Video: Chirodeep Chaudhuri
Curation: Aradhana Nagpal