Masters of the Art
The Khatri Blockprinters of Dhamadka and Ajrakhpur
Part 1 - Presentation
Razzaque Mohammed Khatri and Ismail Mohammed Khatri with Eiluned Edwards
Razzaque and Ismail are Khatris – a hereditary community of dyers and printers who live and work in the desert district of Kutch in Gujarat, India. They are joined by researcher Eiluned Edwards, who has lived, worked, and collaborated with them for many years.
Ajrakh has become the signature cloth of the Khatris. It is a cotton textile traditionally dyed with indigo and madder, and printed on both sides with complex geometric and floral patterns using hand-carved wooden blocks. There are between 14 and 16 individual stages of preparation, printing, and dyeing. The process can take 15–21 days to complete.
Images of the cloth as it progresses through these stages can be found in the Artisan Section of this site.
In this presentation Razzaque and Ismail sketch the history of the family from its roots in Sindh (now Pakistan), to its migration to Kutch, its subsequent conversion to Islam, and its encounter with the historic system of royal patronage under the rulers of Kutch. The brothers speak about the role of their father in the revival of the Gujarati block-printing tradition and the use of natural dyes.The family has developed new products and adapted age-old techniques to suit the demands of designers from the metros of India and customers from new international markets.
Razzaque Mohammed Khatri
Razzaque is the eldest son of Mohammed Siddique Khatri, a traditional ajrakh printer who won the national award for craft in 1981. Razzaque was to follow in his father’s footsteps, winning the national award himself in 1998. Razzaque has participated in numerous international exhibitions and workshops, achieving high honours wherever his blockprints are shown. In addition to his national award, he has also received two National Merit Certificates. He continues the tradition by training his sons in the family art, which can be traced back nine generations.
Dr. Ismail Mohammed Khatri
Ismail was also taught the family art by his father, and his work has been acclaimed internationally. In 2002 he presented workshops and lectures at the Iowa Color Congress; in 2003 he was awarded an honourary doctorate from De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. Also in 2003 Ismail participated in the Resurgence Exhibition of the Manly Council in Australia, showcasing work specially designed to reflect the post-earthquake situation. Both brothers attended the UNESCO conference on Natural Dyes held in Hyderabad, India, in 2006.