Kismet, Ajrakh, and the Fish of Knowledge: Collaborating with Craftspeople in India


Recorded at the 2007 Maiwa Textile Symposium on October 17, 2007

Here is a story with a stitch in the tale. It’s about 16 years of research into how and why people make textiles, what they use them for, and how they are traded in Western India. That’s a tidy description for a messy process, one which transformed Eiluned from a designer into a researcher and academic.

Within a month of reaching India, she spent several euphoric weeks in Bhuj making dusty journeys on foot, in buses, and in rickshaws to meet craftspeople in the town and in the surrounding villages. She studied tie dye with Ali Mohammed Isha Khatri in Danda Bazaar and scrutinized glorious heaps of dowry embroideries thrust upon her in the tiny hamlets of Banni. She was introduced to the aesthetics of Rabari embroidery under the discerning tutelage of Vankabhai and Ramiben in Bhujodi village.

The range and beauty of the crafts, the joy of these encounters with complete strangers are recorded in her notebooks, sketchbooks, and photographs. For her, one experience stands out above all others – meeting Mohammed Siddique Khatri and his family at Dhamadka, and seeing ajrakh for the first time. She has remained captivated by the family and the textile ever since.

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