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Khalid’s advice to us, “Go home. Enough of film shooting. It is not good to go crazy about your work. It can be disastrous!”
The film team!
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Watch the movie on youtube,

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Bringing together the Block printers and dyers of Kachchh and Khamir, our exhibition ‘Kachchh Ji Chhaap’ is now open!

The exhibition is an attempt to tell the story of prints and print making as it unfolded from the time it was practiced on the banks of the Indus to its many facets today. Kachchh Ji Chhaap is an intricate tale of the craftsmen, bringing together narratives of their lives, their milestones and their challenges.

The Exhibition will be held at the Khamir Campus from 7th December 2013 to 28th February 2014.

Old photographs are my favorite.
While researching for an exhibition, I recently stumbled upon a whole lot of photographs taken by the photographer Shivashankar Narayan, c. 1870, from the Archaeological Survey of India. He submitted these images to the book “People of India” published by the ASI in eight volumes from 1868 to1875.
They are available today at the British Library.
What a wealth of history!

I am sharing a few of them here, each one beautifully traces back the history of handwork and craft practices from western India.
They are worth our attention.
We have as much to learn from them today as we did before.

01 Worker preparing thread for sari weaving
This image showing a worker crouching beside a spinning wheel [charkha] and paying off thread to a reel at the right, is probably one of the series of views of cotton manufacture shown by Narayan at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873.

01 Worker preparing thread for sari weaving

02 Sari weaving, Western India
This image shows the process of the manufacture of cotton fabrics shown at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873. The weaver sits on the verandah of a house with his legs in a type of hole which contains the lower portion of the machinery which he works with a pedal at his feet. The combs are supported by ropes attached to beams in the roof. In his right hand the weaver holds the shuttle, which contains the thread which passes through the spaces created by the combs, forming the pattern. The principal comb is held in the left hand.

02 Sari weaving, Western India

This type of handloom weaving is still practised here in Kachchh, view an article from the village of Bhujodi here.

03 Gold embroiderers
This image of embroiderers seated at sewing frames was probably an exhibition photograph. These craftsmen are working with thread which has been mixed with gold wire made from gold leaf and then melted onto silver bars and forced through small holes in a steel plate to form very fine gauge wires. The thread is used to embroider a wide range of garments; shawls, scarves, sari and turban borders, shoes, purses, tablecloths and many other items. It was held that metal threads from India were less likely to tarnish than similar products from other sources.

03 Gold embroiderers

04 Gold and silver tape beater at work
The worker here is beating gold and silver wires (tinsel) into flattened tape on a low anvil with a small hammer. The work is carried out extremely quickly and without missing any sections of the wire drawn off the holding reel. The tapes are used as decoration on a wide range of garments and may be sewn onto or threaded through woven fabrics. It was held that metal threads from India were less likely to tarnish than similar products from other sources.

04 Gold and silver tape beater at work

05 Silk design knotters
These silk workers are tying pieces of silk fabric into multiple pleats and knots before dyeing to produce intricate patterns. This process, which is known as ‘tie and dye’, may be repeated numerous times to produce multicoloured lines, spots and rings on the fabric. In India this traditional technique is known as Bandhani, from the Sanskrit word bandhana, which means ‘tying’, and is the origin of the word bandannah.

05 Silk Design Knotters at Work on a Verandah - 1873

06 Dyers at work, Western India

06 dyers at work in Western India - 1873

07 Bhattia turban folders at work
This image is of a group of workers folding turbans on wooden model heads.

07 Bhattia turban folders at work

08  Bombay potters at work
This image, of two potters at work at their wheels, surrounded by their finished work was probably an exhibition print. The kumhar (potter) makes unglazed terracotta or earthenware pots for the storage of grain, spices or pickles, and for transporting and storing water. The potter also makes bricks and tiles for housing. Vessels for eating and drinking are usually made of metal or glass. However, small disposable drinking vessels, that are used once and then thrown away, are made of terracotta.

08 Two Potters at Work at their Wheels, Surrounded by their Finished Work - Bombay (Mumbai) 1873

Aziz and Suleman Khatri are a terrific team. They are artists and brothers in the business of Bandhani, a craft that has remained in their family for nearly seven generations.
They live in a town called Badli in the district Nakatrana of Kutch.

2“We need to give bandhani a modern look. People already own the old bandhani designs, they are sitting in their cupboards, so we need to do something different.” says Suleman.
The brothers have a zest for experimentation. Both graduates from the artisan design school in Kutch called Kalaraksha Vidyalaya, they have together set new standards in design and expression of this traditional art.

3The family has also developed new ideas and color schemes for their products by working with designers from other Indian cities. While Aziz is the brain between the development of new concepts, designs and colours, Suleman handles product development and marketing.

5“Artisans need help understanding their consumers, markets, colors, designs, and materials that sell,” says Aziz, “That is what the government and the NGOs can do. Many artisans do not know what sells and are not aware of market trends, so once they have this understanding, they can advance their craft.”

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From September 2012 to February 2013, a team of us have been travelling around Kachchh searching for stories of Bandhani artisans. We spoke to a small handful in each region to get a glimpse into their lives and histories. We found stories of hope, risk, creativity, determination and passion.

Voices of the community is a collection of all these creative people across Kachchh and what they have to say. Visit Bandhani : Ties, Dyes and Bumpy Rides for more.

“Two thousand years! Can you Imagine?” says Dawood, “During all these years the art of making bandhani has changed and changed and changed and eventually with their own minds and their own discretion, people have brought down the quality of it!”.

Dawood is a tie and dye artisan. He learned this craft from his maternal grandfather when he was 7 years old. “As a boy, I liked working with dyes but I also developed an interest in fine tying work.” he says. He is from the little town of Mundra in Southern Kachchh, a once flourishing port famous for its salt and spices. A narrow alley lead us down to a quaint little house where he lives with his wife Sarabai.

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After receiving his training in Jamnagar (Gujarat) early in his career, Dawood and Sarabhai returned to Kachchh and shared their knowledge with other artisans in the town. Dawood’s work has remained very true to his beginnings. He still works mainly with traditional designs.

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“The best piece I made is the one for which I won the National Award. I have never made another piece like it. The tying work was all done by the women of our house, and they put their heart into their work. After it was complete, everybody unanimously agreed that we cannot sell this piece, we will keep it in the house.”

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Dawood Khatri believes that it makes a difference when someone really puts their heart into their work. “I was able to come this far only because I was interested in it and wanted to keep learning. Even now, I want to keep on learning.”

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From September 2012 to February 2013, a team of us have been travelling around Kachchh searching for stories of Bandhani artisans. We spoke to a small handful in each region to get a glimpse into their lives and histories. We found stories of hope, risk, creativity, determination and passion.

Voices of the community is a collection of all these creative people across Kachchh and what they have to say. Visit Bandhani : Ties, Dyes and Bumpy Rides for more.


In the village of Tera, every day after lunch, you will find a group of men sitting under a people tree at the bus-stand.
They smoke.
They drink tea.
They discuss life and politics and pursuits and disputes.
And meanwhile some of them tie colourful pieces of cloth.

Tera village1
Tera village2They make very fine knots, nearly about a 100 per square inch! Once the tying is done, the cloth is then dyed in colour to make what is known as “Bandhani” – the most popular art from this region. Tying of cloth is done by women everywhere else in kachchh. So there was something captivating about this scene in Tera.

For me and my camera.

Tera village

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