The Community of Gadiya Lohars

Dastkari Haat Samiti

A story of Gadiya Lohars, a group of traveling metal artisans from Rajasthan

Metal Craft: The blacksmith's cart, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
The Gadiya Lohars are a community of itinerant blacksmiths of North India. They trace their origins to Rajasthan, and can be easily recognised by their decorated carts (gadi) that serve as both home and mode of transport. Many Gadiya Lohars have now switched to a more settled life. 
Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
The village of Pachevar, in Tonk district of Rajasthan has 16-17 blacksmith families who reside there permanently. The Gadiya Lohar continued their nomadic existence, using their carts as mobile homes, as they moved across north India. 
Metal Craft: Metal artisans at work, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
In independent India, the government encouraged them to settle. However, even now, the community is visible in both rural and urban areas leading a semi-settled life. With the advance in technology and availability of many competing materials, their traditional occupation is often not sustainable and many craftsmen have taken to alternative work.
Metal Craft: New markets, 2014, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
In Pachewar village, the Gadiya Lohar families lead a settled life, although still keeping their distinctive carts. Their production caters to seasonal demands: agricultural tools and implements during the agricultural season, and cook ware and other tools the rest of the year. Gadiya Lohars with their carts and temporary homes are not an uncommon sight in villages and towns in North India.
Metal Craft: Artisan family with their cart, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The artisan's family has special relationship with their cart. The vehicle is reminiscent of the nomadic life and is an important part of their lives.

Metal Craft: The blacksmith's cart, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The cart remains an important part of the home, even in circumstances where artisans are shifting towards a settled life.

Metal Craft: Metal artisan with her cart, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The cart also serves as a mobile home.

Metal Craft: Metal artisan with her cart, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A metal artisan, in her colourful attire, poses in front of her cart.

Metal Craft: Details on the blacksmith's cart, 2017-09, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

A treasured possession, the cart is personalized by its owners through embellishments and decorations.

Metal Craft: The blacksmith's cart, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Even when blacksmiths start living a more settled life, the cart remains a important part of their home.

Metal Craft: A blacksmiths' settlement, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Some metal artisans sell milk to supplement incomes.

Metal Craft: The blacksmith's cart, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The cart often becomes a part of the interiors of the artisan's home. Here, the cart is shown in its own garage, hosting various elements of its owners' everyday lives.

Metal Craft: An artisan's new home, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Many artisans have transitioned to permanent dwellings, in place of a nomadic life.

Metal Craft: The blacksmith's cart, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

When the artisans and their families move to a different life style, the gadi, traveling cart, may even get a garage of its own.

Metal Craft: Handcrafted metal insect, Hanuman, Contemporary, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Read more about metal artisans from Rajasthan here:
- Miniature Metal Craft
- Original Craft of Ironsmiths
- Innovations by Gadiya Lohars

Dastkari Haat Samiti
Credits: Story

Text: Aloka Hiremath, Jaya Jaitly
Photography: Suleiman Merchant and Charu Verma
Artisans: Hanuman Lohar and Hazari Lal
Ground Facilitator: Charu Verma and Aloka Hiremath
Curation: Ruchira Verma

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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