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Bandhani to Shibori, How an Indian Artisan Innovates
It’s the strong pull of the tactile that brings forth memories. For Abdul Aziz Khatri from Kutch, India, it was the learning of bandhani, a resist-dyeing technique, at the feet of his elders that permeated his tactile senses providing a connection to cloth and imbedding cultural meaning.
His grandmother’s and mother’s skilled hands taught him the fine tying and binding of traditional patterns. From his father, he learned the technical art of dyeing. But Aziz’s passion for learning continued beyond his family.
Steps to Mastery
In 1998, Aziz received a scholarship from the All India Handicrafts Board to study natural dyeing. In 2003, entirely on his own initiative and savings, he undertook training at the Ahmedabad Textile Industries Research Association where he learned about water treatment, water conservation, environmental concerns and applications for all types of dyes. His studies continued in 2005-06, graduating with design training from Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya (KRV). “My experience at KRV gave me the skill of keen observation, and confidence. I have the advantage of being both an artisan and a designer. I can do what others cannot!”
A few years ago, Aziz began innovating on the traditional classics of bandhani. He now creates stitched as well as folded and clamped shibori, a Japanese term for these techniques. His “itajime” designs are complex patterns achieved by folding and clamping the cloth multiple times and dyeing it in successive dye baths. The “mokume” or wood grain shibori is made by sewing parallel running stitches across the width of the cloth, gathering tightly, and dyeing.
Aziz certainly hasn’t stopped creating exquisite traditional bandhani but has added innovations to the patterning and overall designs. His dyeing skills are unmatched. His imaginative and skilled work has brought him opportunities to work with designers, scholars and customers from all over the world. This is what it takes to be a master artisan.
If you’d like to learn more about the bandhani process, enjoy this short video.
ClothRoads carries Aziz’s traditional and innovative designs along with other bandhani artisan’s work. If you’d like to “Learn with the Masters”, the design school of Somaiya Kala Vidya is offering workshops and intensive courses in the Textile Traditions of Kutch.
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