Legacies of Collaboration
Six generations of metal knife makers have sustained this Kachchh craft in Nani Reha and Mota Reha villages. There are two types of knife-making tradition in Kachchh. The chari has a steel or iron blade known as a fur and a handle made from wood, plastic, or brass. The chappu is composed of the same parts with an added spring that allows it to fold. Some artisans specialize in crafting the blade, some in casting the handles, and others in polishing the final product. In this system, each knife is the result of many artisans’ collaborative work. A collaborative spirit strengthens the sector and together artisans meet the needs of a consistent demand.
Traditionally artisans provided knives directly to markets in Mumbai and elsewhere. Today’s sales are facilitated by Anjar traders. The sector’s major challenge is health, given over half of the knife artisans have tuberculosis. The sector is also challenged because artisans are not encouraging their children to continue the craft. Khamir has worked with knife makers to develop samples, marketing via its outlet and to link artisans with exhibitions outside of Kachchh in the hope that the craft can be sustained.