Kanjar - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Income-producing activities fall into three basic domains: (1) sale of gugu (terra-cotta toys); (2) entertainment routines including sale of jhula (carnival rides), singing, dancing, music-making activities, and prostitution; and (3) some begging strategies. Some families keep and train fighting dogs and roosters; However, income from wagers on animal fighting is not reliable. In rural areas Kanjar bargain for measures of wheat, rice, and other cereals as payment for their goods and services. In urban settings they are more inclined to accept cash, though even there many will negotiate for sugar, flour, and cast-off clothing as remuneration. Prostitutes demand cash. Occasionally, females will offer sexual favors in order to avoid harassment from local police or other authorities. Earnings in soft commodities are accumulated and transported until sufficient quantities justify visits to regional markets where the goods are sold for cash. Income not needed for immediate subsistence requirements is converted into silver and gold. Rice, chappatis (flat bread made from unleavened dough), dried lentils ( dal ), produce such as onions, potatoes, and chilies, occasional fresh meat, tea with milk and sugar, and yogurt comprise their basic diet. Enough of these items are usually earned daily; cash outlays for food generally are restricted to purchases of cooking oil, spices, tea, and luxury items such as fresh fruit and sweets. Family pack animals and goats are grazed in rural areas; however, in more crowded urban areas fodder is often purchased with cash. Seasonal income is influenced by local conditions in the diverse communities Kanjar service. Resourceful families may accumulate considerable wealth.


Industrial Arts. While the sale of terra-cotta toys accounts for only 24 percent of family income, the manufacture and hawking of gugu-ghoray give Kanjar their primary identity. Clay deposits are common throughout the Indus Valley and Punjab, and Kanjar are adept at finding local deposits of this raw material wherever they camp. Males generally dig up the clay; however, the entire group traveling together participate in making the clay figurines. Stylized yet consistent across the entire Kanjar population, the clay figurines represent dogs, sheep, goats, camels, cows, buffalo, birds, and elephants as well as miniature household items such as fireplaces, pots, plates, spoons, and bells. Hand-molded from damp clay, figurines are sun-dried before surface firing under grass, dried manure, and straw. Depending on local demand, families usually make gugu twice weekly. Surface firing ensures fragility and a relatively constant demand for these popular toys.

Trade. Kanjar avoid local markets and craft centers, preferring to hawk their wares and services door-to-door. In Recent years the growth of inexpensive and durable plastic toys in the market has begun to affect sales of gugu-ghoray. Response to this competition has increased the number of toys a client may select for the same price.

Division of Labor. Kanjar females enjoy dominance over males in practically every sphere of daily activities. With the exception of income from jhula (carnival rides) operated exclusively by males, females generate the majority of income in both rural and urban settings. Door-to-door hawking, singing, dancing, and prostitution are exclusively female activities. Both sexes and all children beg. Daily provisioning of the family is provided by females and children. Males and elderly females prepare meals and tend infants. Dealings with outsiders are handled by females, and internally they tend to carry more weight when decisions are made about distribution and/or investment of family resources. Talented males are trained and skillful musicians; they accompany the singing and dancing routines of their mothers, sisters, and spouses with drums, flutes, harmoniums, cymbals, and a range of stringed instruments. Boys share tent-maintenance, livestock, and child-care responsibilities with fathers. Girls accompany mothers in their activities outside camps and concentrate on learning dancing and singing skills within the family domain.

Land Tenure. Most Kanjar avoid ownership of land or permanent property; however, some families may invest cash in professional entertainment establishments servicing urban centers.


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