(Re)searching Community and Commerce in Madanpura: a dyer lifts a saree that has been soaking in boiling dye to be moved to the dryer

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    Abdul is 27 years old and has been managing the family dying business for the last 15 years. Adbul told me that his workers earn approximately 3,000 Rs a month, near half that of Nassir’s weavers. Like the weavers, the dyers too usually occupy the ground floor of a residential building. The walls are shelved with powdered dye, chemical bonding agents, and tanks of propane. The two dying factories I observed had two and three dying tanks respectively, situated on top of propane fueled burners. One worker manned each tank, stuffing bleach white sarees into the tanks of boiling dye and stirring the concoction with a large metal rod. The sarees were stirred and poked in the tanks for one or two minutes and then transferred to an electric drying machine. The sarees were subjected to a 10 or 15 minute cycle of drying in this machine during which most of the excess dye runs off into a drain in the floor. Then. the saree is then stretched out across the room or the terrace to air dry. I had a very difficult time getting an accurate account of the costs and profits of the dying process and so I am not entirely sure as to where the dyers fit into the economic scheme of Madanpura. Nassir claimed that each dyer made a profit of about 20 Rs per saree and the dyers claimed to dye between 200 and 400 Rs a day depending on the size of their operation. Moreover, I only observed the dyers working with completed white sarees which are imported en masse from outside of Uttar Pradesh. These sarees are dyed in Madanpura, embroidered, and then sold. It is my understanding that these sarees are less expensive and are targeted towards lower-income customers, and so too the profits derived from each must be relatively low as well. I believe that dyers might also dye bundles of raw silk either to be sold at market or on contract by weavers but I did not witness this during my visit.

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