Metal Jewellery is handcrafted by the nomadic Lambani tribes of Karnataka. Traditionally, the Lambani women folk wear jewellery made out of copper, white metal and silver. In a village of 200 traditional metal smiths from this tribe, there are only 20 families who are still working to sustain this craft. The others have moved on for better prospects, mostly to nearby cities.
Traditional Lambani woman selling her wares
The designs presented in this website are more contemporary. The picture of a Lambani woman on the left will give you an idea of their traditional designs.
To make the jewellery, the metal sheets are cut into desired sizes depending on the designs. The metal strip is then placed on a metal block with the inverted design and hit with a hammer to give the metal strip the desired shape. Heat is then used to weld the various pieces together. The finished piece is then given the desired finish by either oxidizing it or giving it a silver coating.
Meet our artist – Vinod
Meet Vinod, a traditional craftsman, whose family has been into making metal jewellery for the Lambani tribe in traditional designs for several generations. But as there are fewer Lambani women wearing traditional jewellery nowadays, he has branched out to cater to a wider audience.
Making jewellery is a symbol of togetherness for Vinod, where his wife helps him cut and give shape to the metal strip; while his son takes the completed jewellery to the weekly market to find buyers.
Cotton Beads Jewellery
This range of jewellery comprises of handmade cotton yarn beads which are interspersed with metal beads and metal pendants.
Each cotton bead is painstakingly made by the craftswomen of North Karnataka. The cotton yarn is knotted around a knitting needle (or any similar metal rod) to make the beads in various sizes. On an average, five to ten minutes are required to make one cotton bead. The beads are then put through a cotton chain and the ends are pleated and knotted for a clean finish. The pendants used in these necklaces, are made by the local metal smiths.Meet Our Artist – Chinnakka
Chinnakka was afflicted with polio when she was a child. Though she could not do any physical labour, she was trained in cotton bead making by an NGO (Shramik Abhiruddhi Sangh) and since then she has been making a living through this craft.
Below are pictures of her making the beads and then putting them together to make a necklace.
Wool Related Products
Karnataka has over 7 million sheep, and the Wool production is second only to Rajasthan in India. The Kurba and Gollar Shepherding communities comprise about 40% of the population of North Karnataka. There are around 25,000 weavers and 50,000 spinners in the region out of which only ten percent are engaged on a regular basis. They have been negatively affected due to inefficient market mechanisms and the absence of an active shepherding organization.
An NGO based in Belgaum, Shramik Abhivrudi Sangh, has initiated awareness and organizational building among the shepherding communities over the last two decades. They have also given training to these communities to enable them to make finished products from sheep wool. Over 7 women self-help groups are currently engaged in making excellent quality bags, laundry baskets, floor mats and wall hangings from local sheep wool.
The wool is first sorted as per colour and quality. Then it is twisted into a yarn. The yarn can be made by two methods – either by twisting it against the thigh or by spinning it using a charka, as you can see in the pictures below. The woolen yarn is then used to make knotted bags and floor mats. Sorted wool can also be felted to make woolen sheets which are then used to make products.
Meet Our Artist – Bagavva
Bagavva makes yarn from sorted wool
Bagavva is 83 years old and hails from the Kurba community. She is also a part of a women self-help group in her village. She makes yarn from sorted wool by twisting it against her thigh. She does not use the spinning wheel, as she says she is too old to learn how to use it and is quite comfortable with the traditional way. Before she joined the self help group, she used to stay at home and help with the household chores. She feels that she is using her time more productively while substantiating the income of her family.
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