Chick Making – Crafts and Craftsmen of Old Ahmedabad

As part of an effort to aid Ahmedabad’s bid to be a world heritage city, we were asked to document the lives of various traditional craftsmen and their crafts, within the walled city.

One craft I covered was ‘Chick Making’.

For the uninitiated, ‘Chick Making’ refers to the process of making bamboo chicks (bamboo mats). These mats are used to make beautiful window shades and blinds and they give people respite from the scorching summer sun.

Chick making is quite an ancient craft, but very simple and elegant and it produces amazing results. What’s special about this craft is that it has a large supply of raw materials and needs almost no tools!

Craft: Chick Making

Craftspeople:  Ishwar Bhai and Family

Venue:  Near Satyagraha Ashram, Ahmedabad

Many families work in this business but most of them work as family units. Though this craft looks simple, it takes a lot of practice and hard work to achieve the expertise and the speed required to make them fast enough to earn a decent income. The family unit works cohesively towards this end. Roles are specialized and each family member contributes to this craft. Ishwar Bhai and his family have been in this profession for nearly 40-50 years. Their work has been covered in the past by students from NID and made into a film.

The process begins with customers approaching the craftsmen with their requirements. The dimensions of the window / door are measured.  The bamboo strips are then cut into the necessary length and thickness.

Two persons are involved in this process, to speed up the bamboo stripping activity.

These strips are then attached / tied to each other by means of nylon threads.

The nylon threads are wound around pieces of rubber tyres.

These rubber tyres enable easy weaving of the bamboo chick. The family works in groups of two or three for this process, to speed up this operation.

Even the young ones are prepared for this activity. In this pic, the girl looks on… as her family is involved in the work.

The bamboo chick, once made is flattened and its sides are beaded with a cloth to enhance its look and usability.

The work under progress along with a view of some completed work.

In normal conditions, this family can complete one big piece of bamboo chick in a day. Some complicated designs sometimes take 2 days to be completed. But of course, they are taken at a higher price. These bamboo chicks sell at Rs 35/sq. feet. A cloth covering may also be provided at an additional cost of Rs 10/sq. feet.

The bamboo chicks have a remarkable efficiency in cooling the interiors of the room by reflecting the sunlight. They can also be made to blend with the interiors more easily at a comparatively lesser cost than their western replacements. Encouraging these crafts by using more of these in one’s homes would surely go a long way in contributing to this craft and also give our house an earthy, eco-friendly, close to nature look.

I would be posting more on these crafts soon. Keep checking and have fun !!!



Add yours →

  1. gusshow! nice to know that you are documenting these traditional crafts (before they disappear!)

  2. Hi Harish!
    I am a design research student at Central saint martins college of art and design( Univ. of the arts london), london. I came across your blog about the bamboo chick makers. would like to talk more about it. hope to hear from you soon!

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