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CHAPTER I . EMBROIDERY

Sindhi Muslim

A part of the desert women lives and a mark of one's skills & status.

THE SINDH SIPAHI

The Sindh Sipahi are sub-divided into various tribes, which have a common origin with the Sindhi Rajput tribes of Pakistan.

The community is now mainly settled agriculturist, although many are still herdsmen. Many of their villages are situated in the Thar Desert (the natural boundary between India and Pakistan), and are affected by environmental changes.

Originally, migrants from Pakistan, these Hindustani folks settled in villages lining the Indian border. Cattle rearers and agriculturists by occupation, later, with the support of Indian government they were allocated agricultural land.

A WOMAN'S CRAFT

While men go to the field, women are occupied in household activities, managing children and assisting in agriculture. They learnt it at an early age, since the average age of marriage is 18, sometimes even earlier... They live in nuclear families - an average house has 7-8 members including 3-4 children.

During the months of March-April and October-November, which bring the harvest and their festivals, a woman's day begins at 4am and ends at 10pm and nonetheless, they find time to embroider.

A TRADITION, AN EXPRESSION

Hand embroidering has ever since been a part of these desert dwellers as an everyday wearable and the mark of one’s skills, for instance, during marriages. Every gift to the groom is hand embroidered, even the most unimaginable object like money, bidi (a thin cigarette or mini-cigar filled with tobacco flake and commonly wrapped in leaf tied with a string at one end), mouth freshener packets, etc, are put along to decorate the embroidered patch!

They practice many types of embroidery. To them, embroidering has been an expression, a reason to sit together, memories handed over by a mother to her daughter and a matter of pride. The people are culturally rooted.

Old practices are still being followed, except those that have lost relevance due to globalization.