Master bandhani textile artisan Abdulbashir Fakirmamad Khatri hails from a family of weavers in Bhuj, India. “While studying in college,” recalls Khatri, “I learned bandhani from my uncle, and also through experimenting on my own.” In his early twenties, the precocious artist had already established a bustling textile workshop, where he managed and worked alongside dozens of specialized artists, including his father.
Now a fully established master of his creative trade, Khatri runs a workshop which employs mostly female artisans, each of whom bring their own unique style to every item they create. Bandhani is a tie-dye technique native to India’s Kutch region, whose origins are said to stretch back centuries. Khatri’s team produces a range of products, from traditional tunics and saris to richly colored and luxuriously soft scarves. The process begins with locally procured silk, which is first folded in half and basted together, then stenciled over with a pattern of the artist’s design. Next the fabric is given to an artist who traces the patterns with tiny, precise knots. Then the fabric is dyed, multiple times if necessary.
No matter how busy Khatri gets, he never loses sight of the importance of artistic integrity, which for him is defined by keeping his creative output to a manageable scale. “I do not work for big markets and craft exhibitions,” says Khatri, “I work with small-scale customers; if we stay small, we have time to think of new ideas.”
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