Return to the Banjara – Madhya Pradesh

by - Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Maiwa is on the road travelling through Madhya Pradesh right now. One of the goals of this trip is to return to Banjara villages where we photographed people, examined their textiles and interviewed them about Banjara culture. As we do we are giving copies of the book back to the people who were invaluable in our research.

One of the most satisfying aspects of this journey has been seeing the women look through the book and ask questions about Banjara in other areas. It is also interesting to see the women look through and spot textiles and objects that they know.

Above is Chanubai receiving a copy of the book in Madhya Pradesh and below when we met her two years ago in 2014. Among the most interesting objects that were were able to track down was the Chunda. Chanubai modelled it for us in her village and explained how the threads on the bottom are braided into the hair so that the stick stands straight up. We found out on this trip that the woman who spent the 2 hours necessary to actually braid the chunda into her hair was closely related to the women of this village.

At our lecture this was one of the biggest questions: How will the Banjara react to see themselves and their culture in the book? The answer so far has been that the book has been received with a quiet amazement. There is always a group of people who gather when we enter a village and when the book is presented there is a great interaction as the pages are slowly turned and the images are reviewed. Sometimes a group in a village can be very high energy - but so far the book has been a kind of talisman, channeling a deep fascination with the larger question of who the Banjara are.

We also had a good encounter with an ernest young Banjara man. He wanted to know if the book could be made available in Hindi so that the more literate members of the village could read it. We have felt this need before and we would like to make it happen for the Banjara.

The book is available to order in the Maiwa Online store. It is also available at international online sellers such as

The maiwa team on this trip are posting to instagram with the hashtag #maiwaontheroad Tim McLaughlin can be found on instagram at @tmcltmcl.

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