//The Last Fragments Of Ghongdya

The Last Fragments Of Ghongdya

The traditional art form of making Ghongdyas is fading in Kagal which was once renowned for it.  In this short documentary, Ajit Sanghar, a Ghondya artist talks about the art form and the reasons why it is vanishing.

18 July 2017 | Sanket Jain

Ajit Sanghar, 42, a Ghongdya artist from Kagal says, “Once I retire, this art form will completely become history for my family.” Kagal from Kolhapur district was once renowned for its traditional Ghongdya (cloth mat made from goat’s hair).

In early 2000, there were more than 100 artists in Kagal who were practicing this art form. However, less than 10 Ghongdya artists are now into this art form, estimates Ajit. He has been into this art for 25 years now.

Ghondyas are made from goat’s hair. Shepherds weave a bunch of thread out of goat’s hair and then sell it to the artists. Tamarind’s seeds are then boiled and crushed later to convert them to a powder. This thread is then dipped into a paste made of the powder of Tamarind’s seeds and allowed to dry. It takes at least three hours for the thread to dry. In order to increase the tensile strength, the thread is then hardened.

This thread is then stored in pipes of different calibrations which are used in the handloom. It takes at least six hours to make one basic Ghondya. Ajit works 12 hours a day where he spends early hours of the morning in making the paste and in the latter part, he starts making cloth mats. A single Ghongdya is sold somewhere between Rs 1000 and Rs 1200 on which Ajit gets Rs 400.

With the changing times, the demand has fallen considerably for this art work. “Whatever bare minimum the art form prevails is because of the old people. They are the only ones who use Ghondgyas,” says Ajit. Ghongdya artists say that the art form doesn’t pay much and it requires back breaking work which doesn’t translate into sufficient income as well.

Ajit says, “I haven’t taught this art form to my children because within five years this art will die completely. Currently, both my children are pursuing education in commerce stream. Young people don’t want to enter this business.Earlier at least 100 Ghongdyas were made daily in Kagal, now the number has fallen to a great extent.”

[Watch] Ajit talks about the plight of artists.

Ajit Sanghar working on his handloom
Ajit says, “It takes much more time than normal to make designer cloth mats.”
One of the Ghongdyas made by Ajit Sanghar
Pipes in which thread is stored for making cloth mats
Ajit inherited this handloom from his father who taught him the art of making Ghongdyas

Photos: Sanket Jain