Having a range of skilfully crafted lac to glass bangles with Kundan, and crystal work, the coveted Bibaji Churi Wale – a tiny store set up by Bibiji more than a century ago in Jodhpur is now a sanctuary of colorful & eyecatching armlets.
The legacy of iconic Bibaji Churi Wale, one of the city’s oldest and most loved shopping destinations in the Blue city of Jodhpur is being carried forth by her grandson Abdul Satar Biba. Bibiji was one of the sought-after dealers of handcrafted bangles to royal families.
The store has been graced by the presence of many renowned personalities worldwide like Hilary Clinton, former President’s wife, Ambanis, and many other celebrities from the film industry. One would find almost most every inch filled with colorful and delicate bangles.
The deftness with which Abdul zeroes in on a bangle as per the likings of what a woman would like is remarkable indeed. According to him the skill of identifying the taste of women in bangles has run in the family for the last 150 years. Her gradmother was a pioneer who carefully nurtured the skills of generations.
It was the customs of the royal family that fuelled Bibiji’s entrepreneurship when she set out to endeavor with her visually impaired husband, little did she know she was on the cusp of building a legacy. As the purdah system prohibited women of the royal family to deal with men traders in Bazaar, most bangle makers would sell to locals and tourists.
But she decided to take a chance and waltzed in the palace carrying a basket full of colorful bangles on her head. Back then, the bangles would be tight and one would require a helper to put them on. Bibiji managed to enter the royal court and became the helper.
Earlier Abdul’s father joined the business and introduced arguably the first to offer crystal bangles in Jodhpur, The impeccable designs and innovative work caught everyone’s attention. From then onwards, the name of store became Bibaji. They were also pioneers in goldwork on bangles and cutting kada (thick bangle).
At a time when their competitors were mass-producing bangles, the Bibaji family was giving customized ones as per colour, size, shine and studs. Even today, they follow the same process.
Besides visiting the royal palaces, the family is often invited before or during weddings to present live bangles making as a treat for guests. In most Rajasthani households, bangles are compulsory to wear, especially during weddings and for brides even after marriage. In 2018, the family was invited to Udaipur to craft bangles for Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha’s wedding.