Saturday, 20 February 2010

My Work: The Rabari & The Charpoy

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

While in Dasada (in the Little Rann of Kutch) during the The Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition ™, we stopped by a small Rabari village to photograph. We fanned out to photograph whatever caught our eye, and whoever was willing to cooperate.

The previous evening at the Rann Riders Resort, we were shown a wonderful book of Olivier Follmi's photographs; some of which were of the area. One photograph in particular caught our attention, and it was of a Rabari shepherd asleep on a traditional rope bed called "charpoy". It was a photograph that I (and others in the group) was determined to imitate, provided I found the necessary rope-bed and a willing and able photogenic Rabari.

I easily found the charpoy, but to convince one of the Rabaris to lay or sit on it taxed my very limited Hindi and my rudimentary sign language. After some insistence (as well as having to literally drag him by the hand) on my part, the chosen Rebari cooperated and played his part...however, feeling self-conscious being watched by some of his fellow villagers, it didn't last very long at all.

Photo © Sharon Johnson-Tennant-All Rights Reserved

Sharon Johnson-Tennant, one of the group members who was also photographing this recalcitrant Rabari, captured the moment as I showed him the various photographs.

The Rabari tribals live throughout Gujarat, Punjab, Harayana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states in India. Some also live in Pakistan, especially in the Sindh. Their principal occupation is raising cattle, camels and goats.