Photo of A gypsy Lambani woman (Lambani are originally from Gujarat and Rajasthan) at Varkala Beach Market. Varkala, Kerala, India.
The Lambanis (a.k.a. Lambadis, Romanis) are the nomadic tribes of India. They go from place to place in search of a livelihood. They have their own language, culture and a unique social structure. It is fairly well accepted that the Gypsies found today all over Eastern Europe and the Balkans actually migrated from India centuries ago.
The people of the Lambani tribe are mostly found living in the states of Maharashtra and northern Karnataka. This area is the most southern reach of the tribal belt of north-western India. Because of their southern roots the Lambani are much darker-skinned than the tribes people further north in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and speak dialects of a different language group. The Lambani maintain a strong matrilineal tradition and land is inherited through the female line. The Lambani women are great travellers, they can be found in groups throughout the central and southern parts of India selling their cloth at markets and on beaches. Their work contributes considerably to the income of their families.
The Lambanis mostly lead a poor, uneducated, and yet a very colorful life and are widely known for the colourful mirror work embroidery of the dresses they make. Their change in lifestyle has brought with it a change in the symbols they use. Coins are now often incorporated into their costumes.
The Lambani women embroider bright rainbow-coloured fabrics covered with a mosaic of patchwork mirrors. Their work is sought after by collectors for its vibrancy of pattern and colour, and for the unusual technique of sewing hundreds of small mirrors into the composition. Each piece depicts an aspect of the Lambani creation myths.
The Lambani women commonly wear large, silver earrings laden with bells called lolia and a large silver torque around the neck to which two large silver pyramid forms are attached. There are said
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