Fostering the vanishing Lambani Art

Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra

Shruthi C S Murthy

Writes about an Art Center in Karnataka’s Sandur

The Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra is an art center in Sandur, located in the Northern part of Karnataka which is working towards bringing national and international recognition to the traditional Lambani art. Lambanis, who originally came from Marwar, now reside mostly in Southern and Middle India. Their ancient mode of dressing is the most colorful one, with a unique glare and glitz. These Banjara/Lambani families are settled in many of the villages around Sandur. This organization markets the Arts & Crafts made by the women in local villages

Dazzled by the beauty of Sandur, Mahatma Gandhi quoted, “See Sandur in September”.

This diminishing art is a pride of the nation. A handicraft center, Sandur Kushala Kala Kendra (SKSS) was set up by Sandur Manganese and Iron Ore Limited (SMIORE) in 1984 is working towards bringing the national and international recognition to the traditional Lambani art and other crafts. The cottage industry Smt. Mahalakshmi Mirror & Embroidery Unit is where the lambani style handicrafts, khadi spinning and weaving, cane furniture making and stone artwork take place. This unit was named after the lady, Mahalakshmi, a teacher who noticed the art by the women in the villages. Her idea of setting up this platform for the lambani art was brought to life by the Royal Ghorpade family.

This unit is mostly run by the women where each person takes the responsibility of a group of artisans from the local villages and guides them about the design requirements based on the orders from the market. At SKSS, the raw material like dyed cloth, threads, and various other accessories are supplied to the women artisans. They create magic with their applique patch work and thread embroidery with mirrors, shells, wooden beads, coins and other tiny metallic jewelry to add more shine and elegance to the fabric. The mirror work and intricate thread work with the glitter and charm of the lambani style are spectacular. The exquisite purses, mobile pouches, dresses, waist belts, salwar dupatta, heavily embroidered carry bags, sarees, bed and cushion covers, wall hangings are most of the flashy pieces of the intricate needlework. Cotton/Khadi spinning and weaving are also done here.

The enormous effort of the SKSS to empower the Lambani women and their art is worth an applaud. It works in the marketing and sale of their masterwork. Besides paying remuneration to the artisans, SKSS also provides them their daily food ration and other benefits.

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