The art of making traditional ‘pagdis (headgears)’ for Maratha royal families is on the verge of extinction, as the only royal ‘pagadbandh (maker of headgear)’ is left in Madhya Pradesh.
Mohammad Rafiq, in his 50s, is struggling hard to keep this art alive. He and his family have been serving the Scindias, the erstwhile rulers of Gwalior, for the last four generations. Rafiq says, “The family based in Ujjain was brought to the Gwalior house as the royal family’s pagadbandh during the reign of Maharaja Jivaji Rao Scindia. My father used to make pagdis for Maharaja Madhavrao.”
“Every year, I make new pagdis for Maharaja Jyotiradiya and his son Yuvraj Mahanaryaman. Sadly, my children are not interested in carrying forward this art, making me the last from my family,” he adds. So, he is the last generation of his family who is serving the Scindias. He also claims that he is the only ‘pagadbandh’ who is serving a royal family and making authentic pagdis. “You may get Marathashahi pagdis made in any other place but you won’t find any pagadbandh in the state who is capable of making authentic pagdis,” he says.
He is making ‘pagdis’ for other royal families, too.
“Though I make only Shindeshahi pagdis (scindia-style pagdis), I can make other pagdis too. I have made head gears for Maharaja Tukojirao Puar and his son of Dewas senior state, Maharaja Udayan Raje Bhonsale of Satara, Sardar Phalke and Sardar Jadhav of Gwalior,” he says.
He further says, “Each pagdi is different from the other in its structure and length. The 60-meter-long Scindia pagdi is made of very fine silk cloth. One of the most important decorative elements that a pagdi has is known as toda and turra. While toda is a lace or set of gold chains on the front portion of the pagdi, Turra is a part of the pagdi which gets the shape of a feather.