Traditionally created for the purpose of accounting, Bahi are handbound books with yellow and white pages with hand-quilted cover. On Diwali, Hindu traders and businessmen worship the goddess of prosperity and begin new accounting books to mark the start of the new year. The “bahi-khata” notebooks, which are covered in the auspicious colour red for good luck, are a valuable tool for the business community. 

The double entry accounting scheme is thought to have arisen in Asia about 2000 years ago. Without the use of ink drawn tables, notebook makers beautifully customised the pages for the purpose of accounting. They crimped the pages to create subtle folds in the paper that could be used as columns; “naam” for debit and “jama” for credit, similar to modern accounting methods. Tools such as cardboard, fabric, cotton twine, large eyed needle and sewing machine are used for the crafting process.

The bahi-khata stitching style has remained largely unchanged over the years, with the only exception being the use of sewing machines for the fabric cover. This book binding market, which is common in Gujarat and Rajasthan, helps to support a small scale industry of women who supplement their household incomes by sewing the fabric covers of notebooks on sewing machines. There are two styles of bahi-khata notebooks, according to the binding style. In one, The sections of folded paper are hand stitched with needle and thread in the middle and joined with other sections at the spine. In the other type, there is only one large section of paper which is directly stitched to the spine with a thick cotton thread and a punching tool called “Ari”.




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