Banjara: Women's Portraits of Rich National Characteristic

Banjara Background

Banjara are a nomadic people who originally moved to India from Afghanistan. After travelling for a long time around the lands of Punjab, most of them now live an isolated and primitive life in Rajasthan, which is the India’s largest state by area, roaming between lands to find water; however, some of them settling in architectural old houses. The majority of Banjara are Hindu; some have combined Hindu practices with their own beliefs, other groups affected by Islam. The Banjara have their own language, but some of the words are similar to Arabic words.

Banjara women of all ages admire gold and silver with gemstones more than anything in life. They wear colourful traditional clothes matching the stone's color. All Banjara women wear a "Rakhdi", which is a gold or silver round piece on their forehead. The design, as well as the jewellery, has a relationship with the peacock, a holy symbol in Hinduism. The colours of the women's clothes and stones also match the peacock’s colours and shape.

Some Banjara women have a tattoo on their face. Three dots on the left side of the nose or near the eyes mean "Love, Hope and Faith". A single dot on the nose, chin and lower lip symbolises beauty and strength.


Description And Work Technique

Over the course of two years, Hamad Albusaidi has traveled around Rajasthan and the border with Punjab, but faced many difficulties. Most of The Banjara frequently moved, and every time Hamad Albusaidi found them it was difficult to convince the Banjara women to be photographed. "I had to be patient." said Hamad Albusaidi.

Hamad Albusaidi used natural light in all of the photographs. Drawing on his previous studies of calligraphy, he reproduced his own handwriting using software.

From 1524 to 1752, Lahore in the Punjab land was part of the Mughal Empire; the Mughals were Muslims who ruled a country with a large Hindu majority; from 1584 to 1598 Lahore was the empire's capital. The Mughal used two font types for their official letters and Royal decrees.

The Lahori and Diwani fonts were in use at the same time as the Banjara were migrating from Afghanistan through the Punjab. The script they saw at the time undoubtedly influenced them. Their silver shape inspired by the form of calligraphy, the dots on the Lahori and Diwani font's letters match the dots on the faces of Banjara women that have a tattoo. Their faces are similar to the faces of the Arabic women described in the ancient poetry.

The poetry extracts are more than 1400 years old and describe the beauty of the women. They are from seven long Arabic poems known as "Muallaqat", which are considered the best works of the old poets.

The background colors in each work match the bright colors of the clothes and the gold and silver gemstones of the Banjara women's wear. The old doors in Rajasthan have similarities with old doors in Oman, and the shapes of the metalwork in the doors match some of the features of silver and gold worn by the Banjara women. Hamad Albusaidi also used the natural light in the doors' photographs.

Here are ten images of different Banjara women in different ages and backgrounds (including doors), but in the same composition, with Hamad Albusaidi's own handwriting on each work.

Words written by Diwani font:

Words written By Lahori font:

(All photos reserved Hamad Albusaidi)

Anyway, all of them are different poetic lyrics.

>>>> More information about photographer Hamad Albusaidi

at his homepage here.

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