THE DHANETA JATS
The Dhaneta Jats
" A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people "
- Mahatma Gandhi
Photographed across two villages in the West Baani region of Kutch, this parched land is jeweled with the country’s most reclusive tribes - Dhaneta Jatts .
The Jaats trace their history to Iran. Half a millennium ago, they migrated with their cattle to greener pastures and entered Sindh and Gujarat. Over a period of time the Jats who migrated to Kutch were divided by the work they chose viz farming, cattle herding or studying the Holy Quran. Thus, the divided clans have similar cultural roots and overarching traditions stemming from their common ancestry.
The Dhanetas are the branch of the Jats that retained their original profession of cattle herding. They now have herds of camels and breed the most superior kind of buffaloes.The Dhanetas are Sunni Muslims. The men herd cattle and search for greener pastures through the day and women take care of the houses, children and chores. Aggressive and protective, they do not appreciate pictures being taken of their women.
The women of this tribe wear a fist sized complicated nose ring called ‘ Nathli’. This lends an unmistakable identity to the Dhaneta women . The enormous size of this gold nose ring weighs heavy and is held up by strands of black threads tied to their hair. This gold nose ring is the sign of married women and they continue wearing this at all times.
Any attempt to photograph the women evokes a strong reaction from men as well as women, who promptly cover their faces making it extremely difficult to capture their lives and lifestyle on camera.
The Dhaneta Jats earn living out of selling cattle milk and other related products. They live in huts made of sticks and old tarps covered with hay.
The water shortage and the drought in the area is having an impact on their only possession – the cattle. Greener pastures are rare , far and few.
Read our blog story : Behind the scenes. In search of the Dhaneta Jats