After a long chat with Dr. Ismael Khatri about the history of Ajrakh block printing and digging through piles of intricately printed beautiful fabrics, we left with hopes of a future collaboration.
In June 2021, after preparing the designs for our first collection, we reached out to Dr. Khatri's son Sufiyan with a design idea.
As a child, Sufiyan grew up listening to lots of stories about Ajrakh, it’s traditions
He got involved with the craft by the time he was 14 years old as an apprentice to his grandfather, who shaped his thinking and understanding of the craft.
He taught him to learn and enjoy the process of Ajrakh art, and to place importance on engaging with the craft and with the person/designer he is working with, rather than on the mere end transactional value.
For Sufiyan and his community, Ajrakh is a way of life.
'Working in the Ajrakh craft workshops not only gradually leads to an increase in important skills, but also acts as an important medium of education, nourishment and philosophy, and also provides a great chance to become an entrepreneur depending on how well an artisan can imbibe the Ajrakh techniques. So it’s very important for the Khatri community that the craft sustains by bringing in a fine balance between production (business), quality and innovation.'
Sufiyan Khatri, Master Ajrakh Block Printer
Sufiyan printed our fabrics using two distinct techniques:
a) using only the outline block for a resist print. A printing resist is a substance used to resist the dye colour - leaving the printed area blank. The outline was printed onto the fabric using the resist, the fabric was then dyed to produce the background colour, and then the resist was removed to reveal the motif. This technique was used in our indigo shawl and our mustard smock dress.
b) The second method used both the outline block and the background fill block. The outline was done with a dark colour, while the background fill was done with a natural dye called himalayan rhubarb. The flowers and leaves were left undyed.
Meet our Block Carvers