>Travel Pictures



The Bishnoi are a people sometimes called the "First Environmentalists" for their protection of trees and other natural life. The word Bishnoi actually means "twenty-nine" in reference to the 29 rules for defending living things that they follow.

Passing through the countryside outside Jodhpur, we saw all sorts of evidence of the wilderness the Bishnoi inhabited. From wild antelope to wild camels to desert trees popping out of the hardscrabble earth, it seemed a wonder to us that anything could thrive in such an area.

But, people and animals both did, and we even saw a local milkman going around his daily delivery rounds!

Of course, the milkman was not the only one out and about this morning - we came across this public transport vehicle hauling villagers down the long road.
And this wedding party was suitably curious about us - what a gorgeous collection of bright patterns they were wearing!
Our first stop of the morning was the site of the Khejarli Massacre - an incident in the 1700's where over 300 Bishnoi protested the ruler of Jodhpur's desire to cut trees by wrapping themselves around the trees, and were subsequently axed by the King's men. As a result of this, royal decrees were issued (honored to this day) that the Bishnoi land was off-limits for hunting and wood gathering.
Our next visit was to a Bishnoi house, situated in a compound of mud and cow dung. A grandmother, her son and daughter-in-law, and grandson all lived there, and they gave us a taste of the daily life of the Bishnoi.

While Breck entertained the son with songs, dance, and Hot Wheels cars, the girls were given a tour of the home and its conveniences, including a mortar for making bread. Alea and Susan both also too the opportunity to get their hands hennaed, with fantastic results.
We even had the opportunity to witness the 'opium tea ceremony,' where grandma shared some of her stash with us (and our driver!). The daughter-in-law was always pretty dutifully absent, except when she was preparing tea for us all, and grandma barked at her from time to time, but I guess I too would have been pretty hard pressed to enjoy life in the Rajasthani desert.

Our last stops of the day centered on doing a bit of shopping, as we visited the homes of several artisans. First up was a block print maker, who showed us how they used multiple layers of dye to create the patterns and colors in the fabric.

Breck joined forces with a pottery maker, getting his hands good and dirty in the creation of a bowl. We didn't end up buying his bowl (as it wasn't ever completed or dried), but did pick up some interesting smaller pieces to go with the bedspreads from the first place!

We then bopped on over to a carpet weaver's house, where Breck tried his hand again, but this time ended up breaking one of the strings!

But that didn't seem to daunt the family patriarch, who was just happy to have some potentially paying customers at the house.

But, despite the cuteness of the kids and the shadow-infused colors of the carpets (Alea thought they were pretty comfortable for sitting on in the courtyard), we opted to not buy any of them here. Maybe next time!

Rajasthan trip 2010:

Jodhpur - Jodhpur Fort - Jaswant Thada - Evening performance - Bishnoi - Nagpur - Karni Mata - Jain temples - Bikaner - Camel ride - Festival

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