Tuesday 25th February
We immediately went to Khamir to stay. It is a rural craft centre where they had a block-printing exhibition on currently.
After a curry breakfast we headed to Adjakphur to meet Sufiyan Kari, the son of Dr Ismil Khatri
I wish I could transport you there.
Exquisite block printed fabrics hang on the washing lines.
It is hot, sunny and dusty.
The fire is smoking, there is a large old pot filled with water boiling away. Stones are spread all over the ground.
Kids are playing with tools.
There is a trail of indigo dye from the Indigo Vat.
Wooden printing blocks are laid out drying in the sun.
In the printing shed cotton fabric has been stretched out on pristine tables.
Blocks are carefully cataloged in boxes and men are focused “in their own worlds”, and you can hear the regular thud as the blocks are tapped whilst printing.
Sufiyan came to meet us
Such a charming man, his English was good. I warmed to him immediately. Who wouldn’t! He said “You look younger than your photograph on the internet” Then he looked at us again
“You were in front of me on the plane from Kolkata – you were stitching”
We were off to a good start!
He is a 10th generation block printer, after the earthquake in 2001 they were forced to relocate to a purpose built location.
All the fabric is dyed using natural dyes and it can take up to 16 processes to achieve the desired appearance of the fabric, using a complex procedure using resist, iron, indigo etc.
He patiently explained it all to us.
I tried to take careful notes but I was mesmerized by the skill of the block printers. The men have between 6 and 22 years of experience.
We had lunch with the family, sitting cross-legged on the floor on a beautifully faded block printed tablecloth. It was a delicious meal.
We had hoped to have a go in the afternoon but there was an order of fabric to be printed for a designer so all the tables were being used.
Sufiyan obviously enjoys being a bit of a celebrity so when 3 young American girls in the fashion industry arrived he explained the process all over again.
We decided to go back to Bhuj to a demonstration of Shibori from his brother in law. Stitching marks are transferred on to the fabric, and the women stitch. Men then do the pulling of the threads and the dying. I especially liked the shibori fabric with printing over the top.
We then made a visit to the Indian museum in Bhuj to see some old textiles before wandering the bazaar and buying yet more textiles and old quilts.