KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
Rajasthan is a shopper’s paradise with an amazing range of crafts and textiles. I have taken photos of many of the eye-catching work of this most colourful part of India and hope that I can give you a sense of how the bright colours stand out against the simple background of the rock and sand landscape.
Jaipur is famous for precious and semi-precious stones. If you venture into the small back lanes you can see the stones being cut and polished. Meenakari, highly glazed enamel work, is another a Jaipur specialty. The Johari Bazaar is bursting with fabrics – primarily cotton. In the Kishanpol Bazaar tie-dye (bandhani) is everywhere. One also sees block prints, blue pottery and antiques.
The clothing of the Rajasthanis tells a great deal about the wearer. Turbans (different styles known as safas, paags, pagris), skirts (lehangas or ghagharas) and headscarves (ornis or dupattas) abound. The turban colour may signify caste, religion and occasion. Rajputs (Hindus) traditionally wear saffron, signifying chivalry. Brahmins (also Hindus) wear pink; Dalits (formerly known as the ‘untouchables’ wear brown) and nomads wear black. Multi-coloured turbans are for festivals. The way a turban is tied further indicates the wearer’s social class and origin.
People living in Rajasthan know the colours and patterns at a glance. However, an outsider can easily get it wrong guessing at details about a person’s origins and status by what is worn. White, grey, black or blue turbans are worn by Hindus to signify sadness, but these colours are also worn by Muslims.
Hindus believe some shades of blue, green and white to be mournful colours, they tend to be worn by widows, while wives and single women wear more cheery pinks, reds and yellows in the most astonishing combinations. A woman’s clothing can embody more signals - one red and yellow combination may only be worn by women who’ve borne a son.
Hindu women in Rajasthan often announce their marital status as well – by wearing chudas (arm bangles), bichiyas (toe rings) and a dash of vermillion in their hair parting.