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Maghibai Khimoo Manodhiya

Interview Summary

At Bhujodi we interviewed Maghibai on behalf of her 30 year old Son, Babu, who is a weaver on Mashru. He attended school until class 1 or 2, and has 4 children (2 daughters and 2 sons). His children are too small to decide what they will do in the future, but he will teach them weaving since it is their family profession. With great difficulty, he learnt mashru weaving in a village near Mandvi in just two or three months time. Now with a great deal of expertise, he even weaves carpets (satrangi) out of the wool. He goes to Bhuj to procure the raw material and uses a huge loom to weave. The special loom used for mashru weaving is made by the local carpenter out of locally-procured wood.

Maghibai’s parents and maternal in-laws were also weavers. The family believe in the goddess Chavana mata, and saint Ramdev pir, and do not work on bij (the second day of the full moon) and agiyaras(which falls on the eleventh day of both the full and blue moon). They observe phedi and cook a special type of food to offer to their family deity and also take it to the temple. To help her son Maghibai fills the bobbin and sets the warp, which she calls tanu karo.The other women of the household also do a great deal of related work including washing, dying, drying and making dyes.

In the past, the family made khathifrom sheep wool for the Rabaris. They also did a lot of work for the Rabari using suttar, yarn made out of raw cotton, which was very difficult to work with. This woven fabric was sold at very cheap rate and the labourers received only small profits. Now, Maghibai admits that their things are expensive (monghrat) and they also make more profit out of their weaves. Despite smaller profits in past times, they still managed to run the household because of the lower price of food grain. The family now make various kinds of products including dress pieces and stoles to attract a broad range of customers. They have sold their Mashru-woven goods in places such as Calcutta, Bhuj, Mumbai and Delhi. Some foreign tourists who visit them also buy from her son. Maghibai interestingly identifies them as 'bhurka' because of their white complexion, grey or blue eyes and blonde hair.

In mashru weaving, the vanu(weft) is cotton and the tanu(warp) is silk - therefore the exterior surface of the fabric is silk and the inside weave is cotton, making the mashru weave sturdy and colourful. A piece of mashru cloth is sold at around 250 to 300 rupees a metre. The cotton stoles are sold at 200 rupees.

Currently, Maghibai's son is weaving alone, involved in every aspect of the business, and is at times over-burdened. Maghibai tries to help her son, but, due to her poor eyesight and age she is not able to help as much as she desires. To save one of her eyes from glaucoma, Maghibai says that she tried several medicines but to no avail. Yet, she makes phumka (threads for decoration) and embroidery, and also accompanies her son to the stalls at exhibitions or craft parks. Her daughter-in-law is always busy with the household and the four children but she is also helpful to her husband.

In the past, Maghibai adds, their weaving was primarily for self use, but now in the age of commercialisation, many buy from them, and especially those who understand the value of the product.