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Ramiben Waljibhai

Interview Summary

Over the last thirty years, Ramiben and her husband have attended numerous exhibitions and fairs to sell their hand-woven products. She has visited several places across India including Bhopal, Lukhnow, Kashmir and Dehradun. With this, her contacts with customers and other women engaged in the craft have increased and she is often asked questions about her products. With having no children, she is free to dedicate herself to her work.

Her younger sister Krishnaben Chaganbhai also actively participated in this interview. She has completed her schooling until class 10. Before marriage she lived in Bhuj; her father was in the police force and her grandfather was a weaver. At home, she and Ramiben make decorative items such as phumka, mirror work, and embroidery to adorn the shawls they weave. Krishnaben and Ramiben also instruct the other women in the family how to complete decorative work. Krishnaben’s husband is quite active in the weaving business too. Ramiben has two children, Rashmi and Jaydeep. Jaydeep helps his father and Rashmi makes tea for the guests.

Ramiben’s father and one of her brothers are weavers, her other brother is in service. They are as familiar with the tasks of bobbin filling and setting as the female weavers. Some of the women in the community in Sarli also sit on the looms.

Since their enterprise is large and they weave for a number of foreign clients, they often have many visitors at their home whom they have to cook for. Their large house also needs a lot of cleaning. It is not especially difficult to weave starched cotton thread, but fine weaving does often causes eye discomfort, as it requires intensive and thorough concentration with each long sitting. Both Ramiben and Krishanben feel that their business can only be expanded when as many are involved in the work as possible. They believe that with this work, many helping hands are crucial to increase productivity. They cannot outsource their household work as it is not easy to get a female maid in Sarli. Women often prefer to do mool or labouring as they can earn 150 rupees per day. These weavers’ wives only hire a maid for the day when special cleaning is required.

These females from the weaver’s family work extremely hard and are proud of what they do. They also say that all the males of the family do a lot of work. Ramiben’s husband is in service and also does wadi (farm) work and supervises the weaving business. Her mother-in-law was a labourer and also attended the exhibitions. Five generations of the family toiled as wadi labourers and were poor, but now with the blessings of their predecessors they are well off.