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Lambani: The Dying Gypsy Art That is Being Revived by Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra

Lambani: The Dying Gypsy Art That is Being Revived by Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra

The picturesque beauty of Sandur region is enchanting. Lush green valleys, poised lofty hills, dense forests and gentle streams – best describes the blessed land of Sandur, seated in the plains of South India. The region is surrounded by hills, and is rich in flora, fauna, vegetation and deposits of iron and manganese ore. The beauty of this place has stood the test of time so well enough that even Mahatma Gandhi once defined this place as an “oasis” during one of his visits in the early 1930’s.

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Lambani Art Form

Apart from being a dreamland of natural wonders, Sandur is home to the withering but distinctive Lambani art. The Lambanis, the original descendants of Aryan Roma gypsies of Europe worships nature, follows an animistic religion and adores natural elements. Though their roots trace to the European heartland, they have migrated extensively and finally settled in the deserts of Rajasthan, North India. Later, they continued travelling through India, before ending their endeavor at Southern India, especially Karnataka.

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Lambani tribal art is traditional and distinctive in style, with an extensive use of mirrors, coins, shells, embroidery and colors, lots of it. Red and blue are the dominant colors. The craftsmanship is stellar. Their bed sheets, wall hangings, jewelry, bags and cushion covers are exported in large quantities all over the world.

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Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra

Nevertheless, there exists tales of misfortune, hardship and struggle. Barely, the tribes are able to make a living in their homeland in North Karnataka. To preserve the languishing art worth of the nation’s pride, Sandur Manganese and Iron Ore Limited (SMIORE) established Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra (SKSS) in 1984 with an aim to bring forth worldwide recognition to the craft. It had a humble beginning with only 12 local Lambani women working together as a group, but today around 500 artisans work at SKKK.

Objectives of SKKK:

  • Increasing the livelihood of the people
  • Ensuring a better life for the artisans
  • Discovering new markets
  • Developing traditional crafts suiting modern tastes

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Embroidery and Embellishment

The Lambani craft is an evolving art form that reflects the traditional and cultural roots of Rajasthan and Punjab. The needlework focuses on embroidery, pattern darning, appliqué, mirror-work and patchwork on a handloom fabric base.


Natural Dyes and Khadi

Late Chandramouli and designer Lakshmi Narayan together initiated a workshop on the proper use of natural dyes in 1995. In a matter of time, the artisans started using vegetable and natural dyes, extracted from bark, seeds and fruit peels in some of their block prints and yarns.

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With a separate department dedicated for Khadi production, SKKK employs 200 women from three villages in the area - Yeswantnagar, Krishnanagar and Sandur. Together, they weave yarn and produce Khadi.

Dyeing and Embroidery on Silk

SKKK and Central Silk Board, Bengaluru have collaborated together to venture into new design and product development of Silk products – to diversify silk handicrafts and boost conventional Lambani Hand Embroidery craft. They have already formed a distinct dyeing unit for Silk.

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The founders of MyRootsDesi have a keen eye for traditional Indian artwork, which are fast losing significance. With an aim to revive them, they have associated with SKKK to provide them the much-needed platform to showcase their spectacular collection and woo more and more patrons, domestic and international.

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