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Ranchodbhai Vajabhai

Interview Summary

For around 15 years, Ranchodbhai has done uprlanu (miscellaneous) work for Abdul Jabbar Khatri. In just a few months he came to understand the various types of work associated with the ajrakh craft. His various duties include washing, spinning, drying, indigo dyeing and pothai (painting on the cloth with a brush).

He commutes daily around eight kilometres to reach to his workplace. His father also works with Abdul Jabbar Khatri and has done for over twenty years. In fact, the father Vajabhai Halabhai Harijan, and two of his sons, have all worked with the same owner. A third son works on a farm. Explaining the pattern of work that many workers have in common, Abdul Jabbar says that in the villages people mostly work on their farm, and when the farming season is over for the remaining months of the year (usually around eight months) they search for work and join craftsmen to maintain a steady income.

Each stage of the ajrakh process is just as important as any other for getting the fabric ready. Shankar usually spends two to four hours per day washing, and for the rest of the time is occupied with spinning, drying, and the collection of the dyed fabric. What the workers produce both per metre and per piece, as well as the thickness and texture of the fabric they work with are all factors in deciding their pay. Per day, Shankar manages to earn 75 to 100 rupees.

Abdul Jabbar explains that their workshop is generally open every day each month. Only during some of the key festivals such as Diwali, Janmashtami, and Id, as well as marriage occasions, are they closed.