Women of Kutch

Check out the pictures of the Ahir and Rabari women. Rabaris were typically nomadic camel herders and I think Ahirs were cow herders.  Many are no longer nomadic or doing their traditional occupations. One impact of this is that the younger generation is getting a better eduction, but have less time and interest in learning the beautiful embroidery that is their tradition.

A few other things to note:

– Many of these groups make several heavily embroidered tops as part of their dowry. It is an indication of their skills, too. However, these days many women pay others to make the tops that will become part of their dowry. Not sure how this impacts their selection of a groom for marriage.

– Rabari women have many tattoos on their legs, arms, neck, sometimes even face. They said it is all ornamentation, like henna, but permanent. They get it when they are young, like 10 years old. But they said this practice has mostly died out and children do not get tattooed these days.

– The Rabari women’s blouses are completely backless!! They typically wear the shawl over their head and back, so you would never know. But if you catch a glimpse, it is quite revealing for how conservative their cultures is!

Ahir women

Ahir women

Rabari women - traditionally nomadic camel herders

Rabari women – traditionally nomadic camel herders

Tattooed at the age of ten as ornamentation (like henna, but permanent!)

Tattooed at the age of ten as ornamentation (like henna, but permanent!)

Even the neck is tattooed

Even the neck is tattooed

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2 thoughts on “Women of Kutch

  1. This is really interesting, I had never heard of this group in all my studies as a MEALAC major. I love the contradiction between conservative and yet in a way scandalous with their backless tops. I wonder if the tattoos mean anything, are there any words that they tattoo or just images?

    • As far as I could see, they were just little designs. No words or anything. They also have very heavy earrings and nose rings. The earrings are so heavy that they have gaping holes in their earlobes. And the nose rings are so heavy that they have this piece of cloth hanging down from the odhni (sp?) on their head to hold up the nose ring. The amount of jewelry they wear is incredible. I met one woman who wears solid silver anklets (of the bangle variety, not chain) that weigh 1 kg on each ankle!!

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