Sewing is often viewed as a humble art, done by women in their spare time - a grandma pastime. But if we take a moment to consider the three basic human requirements - food, clothing, shelter - then the highest esteem should be bestowed on the sewer. And we aren't talking of the handful blockbuster designers but those like Bhavari Devi Lilar who supply to the many as opposed to a few.
Smt. Bhavari Devi Lilar smiles at us encouragingly as we cautiously approach her stall at the Crafts Museum, New Delhi where she sits and works on an indi, a round cloth padding used to balance pots placed on the head. Nearby, her son Madan Lal Lilar sits and occasionally joins in the conversation.
IN THE BEGINNING
Bhavari Devi is from the Bhanwata-Kuchamancity village in Rajasthan. There, things like the indi and the kansari - a type of blouse typically worn only by Rajasthani women - are used everyday. There are 1100 households in this village, and most of them rely on agriculture and animal husbandry for a living. Most of the people are Hindu's, but there are also Muslims and a few Christians. People generally marry within the same caste, but rarely from the same village.
Bhavari Devi's family kept cattle and as a child it was her responsibility to look after her family's animals, but she sewed in her spare time. She started with only a basic knowledge of sewing, but gradually, she taught herself more elaborate garments and designs. She soon progressed to wall hangings a...