Aesthetic Art of Mojari Making: Why artisans are backing off
The tradition of wearing embellished rawhide flats dates back to the Mughal era. They started the trend of donning different kinds of Mojris, which were usually worn with salwar Kameez and Anarkalis. Even in the film Mugal-e-Azam, protagonist Madhubala can be seen wearing Mojaris dotted with sequins and gotta-Patti work. The tradition of Mojris has escalated to the modern era since people are pairing it up with fusion dresses and ripped pants to exude out a bohemian vibe.
The art of Mojari making has been dispersed to several districts after the partition of India and Pakistan. This art is still been practiced in some villages of Punjab, Multan, and Rajasthan. The Mojaris of Multan is shimmery, dotted with sequins and is a bit gaudy, whereas, the ones worn by the villagers of Rajasthan lack the bling factor and are commonly known as Juttis. To know more about this aesthetic art check out My affair with Juttis by Tadasha Mishra.
Over time this art of Mojari making has been dwindling away from India’s culture since most of the people nowadays prefer off the rack shoes. Also, the profit and margins are pretty low which discourages a lot of artisans from making their predecessors practice this epoch old art. Some of the far-flung areas of Rajasthan like Shivbadi, Bikaner has the highest number of artisans practicing this traditional art as a source of livelihood. Hence, the number has been decreasing each day with the competition from machine-made goods, high production costs and lack of information about the latest strategies like e-commerce, exhibitions, and links to buyers.
It has high production costs since everything is done manually by using traditional equipment, apart from the high production costs, handcrafted products doesn’t have much demand. The very first step involves procuring rawhide from a nearby village ‘Udaramsar’ followed by its processing by drenching it with water and straitening it with metal equipment, traditionally known as ‘Lohe ki Rampi’. The next step involves cutting, pasting and moulding the hide into different shapes. Once the basic structure has been orchestrated the women of the household dots the Mojari with shimmery and glitzy sequins in order to give a traditional tinge to the traditional flats. But due to high production costs and lack of opportunities, even the women are backing out from this profession.
Thus, the artisans involved in this profession have been combating the high production cost for the past few generations, but if they get aware of some basic business tactics, exhibitions and about target buyers then they would be able to override the cutthroat competition of machine-made Mojaris.