The Artisan's Alliance of Jawaja is a rural cooperative located in Rajasthan, India. The group represents the work of two crafts; leatherworkers and carpet weavers. We carry the work of both groups in our Main Maiwa Store on Granville Island.
For well over 300 years leatherwork has been the primary occupation of the Regar Samaj community of Rhajastan, India. This group is adept in the preparation and tanning of hides and few could match their skill in the making of saddles, harness or tackle. In the past they were sought after to furnish the leather armour for the cavalry. Historically, they have also produced containers for gathering and storing water, Juti (Rajasthani shoes), and the ornamented neck belts and face decoration of herd animals.
Modern India has little need for these items however, and the traditional skills of these artisans are vanishing. In 1975, as an initiative of the esteemed Shri Ravi J Mathai, and the National Institute for Design, a leatherwork co-operative was formed. Jawaja had two goals: eliminate toxic or ineffective stages in production and design a new line for the contemporary market based on traditional strengths and skills.
Maiwa has worked closely with the Artisan's Alliance of Jawaja for over twenty years. We have worked on product development and collaborations with other artisans. Most recently we have combined the skills of the Jawaja Leatherworkers with Banjara embroidery.
The Artisans Alliance of Jawaja (and former NID director Ashoke Chatterjee) were invited to visit Canada in 2009 as part of the Maiwa Textile Symposium. The Maiwa Foundation has supported the Jawaja group with three major projects: An interest free loan to avoid a predatory lender, support for the construction of a de-hairing and tanning facility, and the now famous "Pink Bike Project".