Monday, January 18, 2010

Banjara Girl, Outskirts of Behror, Rajasthan, India, November 6, 2009

This is her first time in front of my camera, even though her friends and family have seen me for the past four years. She belongs to the Banjara Community, a nomadic people whose women dress in colors from my dreams and wear jewelry like few others in this land.

The very young girls wear less jewelry and celebrate a more complex adornment as they near adolescence. In my experience with them, the first piece of jewelry consists of a considerable neck piece, carved and silver in color. What follows is an arrangement of necklaces and bracelets, the latter usually thin at first.

Then the bracelets gain thickness and width, white in color with small jewels. As they near marriage, the white bracelets turn into bands silver in color.

During my last visit, we decide to visit a local tailor that makes clothing for the Banjara Community. It turns out, to my amazement, that this Community orders their clothing from local tailors rather than wearing pieces already made. My surprise is in part due to their difficult socioeconomic circumstances, knowing that many of their children collect rags, metal scraps and plastics in order to support their families.

This Community, regardless of difficulty or perhaps in spite of such, remains true to tradition. The local tailor shows us the fabrics used for their clothing. Once the word 'Banjara' is mentioned to him, he instantly knows which fabrics to show us. The pieces jump out from the other colorful fabrics on the walls. They contain small reflective circles, patterns from another world, textures rich to the touch.

At first, the young Banjara girl above is shy. Then as the shutter clicks, she warms to the lens, every instant a different expression. She shows happiness in one millisecond and sorrow in the next, without difficulty.