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Sufiyan Ismail Khatri

Block print in traditional and evolving forms

Alongside traditional products like saris and scarves, master Indian textile designer Sufiyan Ismail Khatri has recently introduced bedsheets, curtains, and carpets. “The main reason to include new products,” he explains, “is because it gives me more freedom to play with designs, patterns and placements.”

Khatri is a recognized leader in the creation of akrakh printed textiles, crafted on cotton and silk. This textile legacy goes back over four thousand years to the early civilizations of the Indus Valley; every color tells a story, and the varying level of intricacy within a design depicts the status of its wearer. The beauty of Ajrakh relies on expert manipulation of dyeing and printing. Khatri takes this centuries-old creative practice and modifies it to include ingenious effect, such as a reversible textile with an indigo blue background on one side, and red on the other.

Khatri’s process begins with securing cotton and silk fabrics sourced from both local handloom weavers and machine mills in Bangalore and Mumbai. Complex geometric patterns are hand-carved on blocks made from Teak wood. Traditionally ajrakh block prints were very widely used by local communities, and items produced—like turbans, sarongs, and more—were worn by both men and women in a number of communities.

Khatri’s innovative artistic approach results in rugs, wall hangings, and even napkins, constructed in heirloom-quality materials in a range of vibrant, eye-dazzling colors and patterns.