In this hundred and thirty-sixth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we meet a group of traditional musicians in Jaisalmer, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Women have always been an integral part of human civilisation and also on the Indian village society since time immortal. In Uttar Pradesh the photographer portrayed this Indian woman taking care of the household in her village home. Today's women in Indian villages not only take care of their household works, but also do a lot of things to contribute to the family's total income.
Jaisalmer is known for its local music tradition carried through generations by the Manganiar community – with Muslim ancestry and Sufi-esque folk songs. Descendants of Rajasthan’s royal Rajput clans, the Manganiars are the desert troubadours, once patronized by the feudal lords. Their music incorpomen have always been an integral part of human civilisation and also on the Indian village society since time immortal.

Musicians in Jaisalmer

Their music incororates a variety of indigenous instruments such as the 17-stringed 'Khamaych' made of mango-wood, goatskin, and goat-intestine cords, the teakwood castanets or 'Khartaals' and the 'Dholak' – a bongo-like instrument coated with tar, clay and sand for an inimitable timbre. Musicians may perform on their own or as part of a group, band or orchestra. Musicians specialize in a musical style and some musicians play in a variety of different styles depending on cultures and background.


What is a musician?

A musician is a person who composes, conducts, or performs music. A musician is a general term used to designate one who follows music as a profession. Musicians include songwriters who write both music and lyrics for songs, conductors who direct a musical performance or performers who perform for an audience. A music performer is generally either a singer who provides vocals or an instrumentalist who plays a musical instrument.


Tradional music of Rajasthan in India
Rajasthan has a diverse collection of musician castes, including 'Langas', 'Sapera', 'Bhopa' and 'Manganiar'. There are two traditional classes of musicians are the 'Langas', who stuck mostly exclusively to Muslim audiences and styles and the 'Manganiars', who had a more liberal approach. Traditional music includes the women's 'Panihari' songs, which lyrically describes chores, especially centered on water and wells, both of which are an integral part of Rajasthan's desert culture. Other songs, played by various castes, normally begin with the 'Alap', which sets the tune and is followed by a recital of a couplet 'Dooba'. Epic ballads tell of heroes like Devnarayan Bhagwan, Gogaji, Ramdeoji, Pabuji and Tejaji.

The celebration of changing seasons is also very central to folk music of Rajasthan. Celebration of the coming of the monsoons or the harvest season are central to most traditional folk songs. Songs also revolve around daily activities of the local people for instance a song about not sowing 'Jeera', which is cumin as it is difficult to tend. Or for instance another song about 'Podina', which is mint and how it is liked by various members of the family, which is an allegorical reference to a local liquor extracted from mint is also made. Every day common themes are the center of traditional rajasthani folk music the Photographer learned.

Maand singers
The famous Rajasthani song 'Kesariya Balam' is in the 'Mand' style. 'Ab To Hai Tumse Har Khushi Apni' song of Abhimaan movie is one of the famous hindi song in 'Maand' style. 'Mand' or 'Maand' is also a popular style of singing in Rajasthan. This is neither accepted as a full-fledged 'Raga' nor is it reckoned among the freely rendered folk songs. It is quiet similar to the 'Thumri' or the 'Ghazal'. 'Maand' singers contribute a lot to the classical music of India with their Rajasthani folklore.

Panihari music
'Panihari' style of music were developed by woman of Rajasthan. As water is a scare commodity in the parched desert lands of Rajasthan in India and women who fetch water from afar called 'Panihari'. The overworked women created melodious numbers that spoke of flowing rivers and the splashing waves and most songs often had water and rains as their theme. Soon 'Panihari' songs became famous and common. 'Panihari' slowly came to be a part of the rich folk dance and music culture of this state and the themes too grew to encompass the daily affairs of women and their household chores. The songs sung as the women washed and cleaned and worked around the village well were also classified as 'Panihari' songs.




"Women sing 'Panihari' as the expression of their love and disappointment, unappreciated sacrifices at the altar of mundane domesticity. Humour and mirth too was added to these songs by the womenfolk. They took this opportunity to take a dig at their troublesome mother-in-laws. 'Panihari' was an effective expression of the pent up creativities of the rustic Rajasthani women"




Theme in the Panihari songs
A famous theme of the 'Panihari' songs is the tale of a young, unwed girl who stumbles upon a stranger on her way home from the well. Taking pity upon the parched stranger she offers him some water. After the drink the immodest stranger sings praises of her beauty and follows her home on her camel. Fuming at such outrage the village complains to her mother. The lady meets the stranger and laughs at her daughter's ignorance as the stranger turns out to be the gir's fiance. The mischievous romance, the mock anger and the humor of a happy end are captured well in this song. 'Panihari' songs are not set to any formal or classical note or 'Raaga'. They are lilting melodies that spontaneously overflow from a woman’s heart. It is the Rajasthan's most sophisticated style of folk music and is most exclusive contribution to the classical music of India.

Pabuji Ki Phach music
The 'Pabuji Ki Phach' is a beautiful folk music of Rajasthan which is performed in the commemoration of about a 14th century folk hero who is the most honored protagonist of the Bhopa community. This performing art is associated to the life and the gallantry activities of 'Pabuji'. 'Pabuji Ki Phach' folk music expresses the struggle period, heroism and dauntless attitude of the great 'Pabuji' in a musical style. It is basically a poetic ballad sung by the 'Bhopa' who plays the 'Ravan-hattha' and is accompanied by his counterpart, the wife who seizes the lamp and illumines its specific portions Kristian Bertel | Photography learned while traveling in the country.

'Pabuji Ki Phach' is one of the gems which truly represent the Rajasthan's stupendous culture, lifestyle and tradition after the magnificent citadels, palaces and fizzy havelis whose edifices and structural designing is really awe-inspiring. 'Pabuji Ki Phach' portrays the works and life of 'Pabuji' who was somewhat an integral personality for the Bhopas who exaggerate his deeds through the songs and the stories ever read by them related to 'Pabuji' from a scroll or 'Phad' whose length is about 10 meters long. The melancholy period of the Bhopas explore the townships of Rajasthan and entertain the bystanders with their performance related to the 'Pabuji Ki Phach' folk music.


Read also:  An Indian itinerary




Read also:  An Indian itinerary

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of musicians in Jaisalmer. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.