Walking through the dusty lanes surrounded by beautiful shades of earthy yellows and browns we discover Hussain Lohar working on a metal bell or 'Ghantadi' as it is locally called in Kutchi. Long grey beard, contentment writ large on his face and calm eyes, going about his daily act of creating yet another hand made bell. His home with a beautiful wooden door, welcomes my friend and me with the warmth we all now know the people of the region exude in plenty. On entering you are greeted with the sight of the old man working and his son goes on to explain how it is done systematically, very well aware of what the travelers are expecting.
Hussain bhai at his workshop.
The room is their work space bereft of furniture, well lit, all windows decorated by 'Torans' made by the women of the household and of course bells all around of different sizes. The tools needed are all placed on the wall, all of different sizes too for different bells. What caught my attention is how the tools were perched on holders made by the artisan cleverly devising products to organize their tools.
Tools for bell making put up on the wall beside the craftsman's work area for easy access.
Besides bells they also create a musical known as 'morchang' in the local kutchi language.
Hussain bhai's son Umar bhai palying the 'Morchang'
'Morchangs' at their workshop.
For generations this craft of bell making has been practiced at Nirona. The bells beautifully exemplify sustainability as it is created from scrap iron metal. These are then beaten manually and joined without any kind of welding. Coated with copper or other metals these are essentially made by the Lohars for the herders who would purchase them for their cattle(tied around their neck). The bells are made in various sizes starting from the tiny ones for the goats to the big ones for the cows or camels. The shepherds recognize their cattle by the sound that the bell emits.
Such is the craft, musical, a testimony to simple living, native knowledge and self- reliant village economy.