Kanjar - Settlements



Kanjar own no land or permanent shelters. They survive by traveling from community to community through diverse regions, transporting their physical possessions on mule-drawn carts ( rehra ) or donkeys. The woven reed or munj grass ( sirki ) walls of their tents are ideal for their peripatetic activities and contrast sharply with the mud and/or brick shelters of client settlements and the barrel-vaulted, patchwork cloth tents of other populations of nomadic artisans and entertainers. Tent walls are made by weaving and binding strands of sirki or split bamboo into long, flexible mats about 2 meters wide and up to 9 meters in length. This mat is wound around a rectangular frame of vertical poles or sticks to form a continuous wall that is rolled open to provide an entrance. Cloth or smaller grassmat ceilings are supported by one or two ridgepoles secured to corner posts. The living area may be varied by adjusting the distance between corner posts. Each family maintains a separate tent and one seldom finds more than three tents traveling or camped together. In rural areas tent camps are pitched along canal banks and railway lines and in fallow or newly harvested fields around villages. In urban settings camps are located in vacant lots or undeveloped commercial sites. Because they are almost identical, Kanjar tents are frequently confused with tents belonging to the Changar. Changar are a totally different community of nomadic artisans who weave bamboo, reeds, and grass into mats, baskets, brooms, toys, and the like. While Kanjar are capable of manufacturing their own tents, it is common to contract with Changar to build or repair their tents.


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