When I took this picture of Lambani or Lamani tribal in Goa, I never knew I would write about her. I was particularly impressed with this smiling lady with silver and lac jewelry hanging around her neck, ears, nose, wrists, fingers, toes, ankles and even adorning her hair.
Sitting outside her little roadside shop she gave me a contended smile and happily posed for photos. She was wearing a vibrantly coloured ‘mirrored’ dress that attracted many a curious tourists including me. Her shop was full of anything & everything colorful and exotic.. .. from hand bags, embroidered shirts/tops to tapestry and intricate jewelry.
I tried to ask many questions which she could understand but could not answer me in any common language. Except for a few selected English words such as ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and a little counting (one, two etc.) our common language was sign language. But later I saw some from her tribe at the Flea market speaking fluent English. Probably this lady was new to the town.
The people of the Lambani tribe are said to be from Karnataka and can mostly be found living in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and northern Karnataka. But looking at their work, I could have mistaken them to have originated from Rajasthan or Gujarat.
Gypsy by nature, the Lambani women’s main work is to embroider bright coloured cotton fabrics with a mosaic of patchwork mirrors. Their work is sought after for its vibrancy of pattern and colour which has hundreds of small mirrors into different compositions. Each piece depicts an aspect of the Lambani creation myths.
They are great travelers, they can be found in groups throughout the central and southern parts of India selling their clothes at markets and tourist places. The Lambani women are the main breads-winners in their families. They are worshippers of Shakti, the female energy or force.
The Lambani women commonly wear silver jewelry laden with bells. Some of it has pyramid shaped large silver torque around the neck. They are said to represent bee hives, as the Lambani were once known as a bee-keeping tribe.
They mostly wear bangles made of lac. I saw some of them with their head shaven at the back of their head and I think probably that is one of the reasons why they cover their heads in this fashion. Later she undid her scarf and wore it like any other Indian woman.
I am planning to do an interview with them when I go there next time.