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-by Nitin Jamdar

On the edge of the dry lands of Banni in Kutch lies the village of Fulai. A clan of Vadha artisan live  at the outskirts of Fulai.  Vadhas are nomadic but have now settled down in the Banni.  Here they produce toys and artefacts of lacquered wood. The  toys are made from Babul (acacia) tree wood. Banni grassland has forest of Babul trees. Babul pieces are cut to desired shapes and smoothened. Lac is drawn from insect resin. It is blended with the colour drawn from stones in the Banni area. The coloured lacquer is then heated.  A lathe is operated by hand. The heated mixture of coloured laquerre applied to the wood as it rotates creating fabulously painted toys.

The entire household works in the open-air workshop outside the houses—everybody chips in, even the children.

Life in Banni is tough. Arid lands surround the village. In the summer, scorching heat and dust storms sweep Fulai. In winter temperatures plummet  to near zero.  Yet, battling all odds, the Vadhas  continues their traditional occupation and create wonderful lacquered wood toys.

Supported by different organisations, the Vadhas can now display their works to the metropolises.

Nitin Jamdar. Travel Photographer. Photographing India for last 35 years.

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