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Pathubai Raichand Bijrani

Interview Summary

Pathubhai, who works with leather, has an interesting story of migration to tell. In 1971, his family migrated from Parkarvas, Pakistan to Vankasar, and from there to Sumrasar in Kachchh. He married as a young man at 19 or 20. He recollects that during those post-independence times when there were few restrictions on mobility. People could freely move from Pakistan to India irrespective of the borders. He is a fourth-generation leather worker, and one of his three sons has also carried on the work; his family have been involved in the craft for 100 years. Patthubai's other two sons work as an accountant and a teacher.

Pathubhai and his son Anchal Kumar Pathubhai Bijlani (who is 34) work on leather which is procured locally from Sumrasar in Banni. For cutting and carving Pathubhai uses tools known as raapi and hathodi. He reckons that all his tools together weigh around 15 kilos. For the embroidery and mirror decoration on the leather Pathubhai hires services of women from the neighbourhood. However, most of the other decorative and creative work on the leather is done by Pathubhai and his son.

His leather-made artefacts are sold to various parts of India including Ahmadabad, Kanpur, Mumbai, Banglore, Jaipur and Delhi. In Ahmadabad, the Gurjari emporium is their chief buyer and they work on contract with them. He has been to Hiralakshmi craft park eight times to display and sell his products. He claims to earn around one lakh rupees or more profit. Most of the displayed products range between 150 and 600 hundred rupees and include decorated mojdi (footwear), ladies purses, belts, mirrors, mobile covers, folders, and some show pieces, amongst many other items.