After being invited to send in his entry for the Playing Arts contest, a project that gathers artists from around the world to create a customized set of playing cards, Jatin Pandya drew a portrait of a maldhari man from Kutch Gujarat.
Maldharis are nomadic tribal herdsmen who live in the Gujarat state of India. The literal meaning of maldhari is “owner of animal stock”. They are descendants of nomads who periodically came from neighboring states Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and other parts of Gujarat, and finally settled in the Banni grasslands. The maldhari have been living in the Banni grasslands for nearly 700 years. The connection between them and their handicrafts might be the most noticeable thing about them. Their jewelry and clothing imbue a sense of identity and tradition, and symbolize their beliefs and ideals. Men wear gold hoops and buttons in their ears; looking more like pirates than shepherds. The sole exception to their ordinary scene is the beautiful and ornate embroidery and jewelry adorning the maldhari. Their beautifully sewn clothes and ornaments are in direct contrast to their simple homes and harsh existence.
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