Ply-Splitting Folk Braiding


This very happy man is Erroll Pires who has been blessed in his life to be passionately dedicated to follow his life’s work in preserving the ancient craft of ply-split  braiding.  The technique is one cord passing through another to strengthen the braid  and originally was used for camel belts for saddles and harnesses.

Erroll graduated from the previously mentioned  NID ( National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad) without finding his chosen life’s work in design. After several years he returned to the school to be on faculty in order to  pursue research on ancient Indian craft. He became fascinated by hand-braided camel belts and bags. His life’s purpose became saving this nomadic lifestyle craft in the face of continuing urbanization.


He went  to Rajasthan to the camel herders’ gathering grounds and found a grand master of ply-braiding, Ishwar Singh Ghatti who accepted Pires as a student with three stipulations.  He must practice daily, not keep the styles to himself, and he must not solely  desire to make money or fame , but desire first the preservation of the craft.

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Enroll kept his promise. He taught ply-splitting braiding for many  years at N I D until recently retiring. images (46)

During his tenure he produced and taught the skills necessary to produce a  huge array of camel belts,and bags, and designed and produced a series of wearable art including jewelry, stoles , necklaces, and even dresses.  He often could be seen walking around with tangled cords around his neck,   which he would turn into a  braided finished piece by evening. Ply-braiders are recognizable with filed overgrown thumbnails thus carrying their braiding tools with them at all times!  Ahmedabad-Saritorial-7-2062


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Namaste. . . . . . . . This Is Incredible India!

About annetbell

I am a retired elementary teacher, well seasoned world traveler,new blogger, grandmother, and a new enthusiastic discoverer of the wonderfully complex country of India. Anne
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8 Responses to Ply-Splitting Folk Braiding

  1. Trapper Gale says:

    I love that he was taught, and learned this art form, not just for fame and money, but also to preserve this craft. Thanks for sharing.


  2. sknicholls says:

    The craftsmanship is quickly becoming lost art. I hope they can pass it on. It reminds me of the cane bottom chairs that my grandmother used to fashion from reeds. I never learned how to do to. Wish I had.


    • annetbell says:

      I don’t know if my reply was lost of not…I am pretty hopeless with the technology. CEPT and N I D are working by having the artist come to the students…illiterate craftsmen teaching the grad students! I bet maybe you could find someone to teach you how to do the caning…but of course , not your grandmother!


  3. maverickbird says:

    Amazingly eye opening post.Loved it.Thank you bringing to light stories of these hidden grand masters.


    • annetbell says:

      Well , India is an Incredible place. There is a huge push by NID and CEPT in Ahmedabad to ensure these crafts don’t die with the masters. They have brought illiterate peasants to teach the graduate students ! Wonderful!


  4. dalo2013 says:

    Amazing craftsmanship, and it always makes be feel happy when I see (or read) about someone passing on these cultural gifts today.


  5. OyiaBrown says:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.


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