His hands have documented textile history for aeons. He has spent a lifetime in mastering Ajrakh’s ekpuri (single sided) and bipuri (double-sided) printing styles. And he owes it all to his lineage, nine generations in total, who have honoured the tradition by reinstating its value in every era they’ve lived. As Abdul Jabbar Khatri from Kutch, Gujarat, opens his treasure trove of Ajrakh saris, stoles and yardage, he, once again salutes the handcrafted heritage that India proudly holds as a custodian.
For the uninitiated, Khatri is a UNESCO recognised master craftsman. His last name is an indication of the community he was born into. Since birth, he played with fabrics that lay scattered in the verandah of his house. Before he knew it, he developed an affinity towards textiles.
Because Khatri’s family upheld the tradition of bandhani since the late 17th century, it was only natural for him to acquire the dexterity to pursue the craft himself. He never succumbed to the lure of a conventional city career that many of his friends were launching towards. His eyes were set on the target, he had to prepare this traditional craft for the contemporary market.
He not only made a lucrative and satisfying career for himself, but he also gave more than 300 women from the villages of Kutch, a source of steady income. Therefore, it was for good reason that he was awarded the UNESCO Seal of Excellence in 2006 and 2007, among many other honours.
In Living Traditions, the exhibition in which he is showcasing his Ajrakhs, an assortment of patterns from floral to geometric have been worked out. These have been rendered on dress materials, saris and stoles in mustard, reds, indigo, browns and black.
An effort by Dastkari Haat Studio, the retail division of Dastkari Haat Samiti, that has been facilitating and supporting craft work since 1986, talents like Khatri have benefited by leaps and bounds. By keeping their promise of assisting 300 crafts groups across 24 Indian states, the samiti keeps textiles relevant for modern markets.As an ode to the past, their efforts are set to flourish in the future.
In a nutshell
Abdul Jabbar Khatri has not only made a lucrative and satisfying career for himself, but he also gave more than 300 women from the villages of Kutch, a source of steady income. Therefore, it was for good reason that he was awarded the UNESCO Seal of Excellence in 2006 and 2007, among many other honours.
On till March 9, from 11 am to 7 pm, Dastkari Haat Studio, 12, Meharchand Market, Lodhi Road.