There are some parts of the world that, once visited,
get into your heart and won’t go.
For me, INDIA is such a place.
– Keith Bellows, National Geographic Society
Home to some of the oldest living yet mostly unknown artistic traditions in the world, older than history itself, yet alive with the exuberance of new youth. India, the glorious motherland of human civilization, welcomes curious students and enthusiasts to explore her lesser known treasures of handiwork.
Blessed with more than five thousand years of recorded history, India has seen the world grow. Many of her traditions, and techniques which were perfected by the ancients, have survived the test of time. Her oceanic literature is etched in the stones of her temples, and her flavors of 18% of Earth’s total biodiversity enrich her cuisines. In her sceneries painted with the colors of hundreds of subcultures, she sings her music in thousands of languages.
India has always had a special place in the history of mankind. From the Silk and Spice trade routes, to the tales of Panchatantra, from the invention of the Zero, to some of the largest architectural marvels, this home of the oldest written books in the world, of Yoga, of Mysticism, India is a paradise for seekers of culture, history, philosophy and spirit.
There is no better place to learn about India, than India herself.
Come her hospitality awaits!
Ajrakh is one of the oldest types of block printing on textiles still practiced in parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan. This is a centuries-old craft practiced by Khatris and characterised by its complex geometrical patterns.
It uses natural dyes and its production process is extensive and requires great skill. The patterns share similarities with ancient Indus Valley Civilisation patterns, and those of the medieval cloth traded along the Indian Ocean route.
The highly skilled and patterned ajrakh block-printing came to Kutch from Sindh 400 years ago when the Muslim Khatris (artisans who ‘apply colour to cloth’) settled in the village of Dhamadka. In 2001 a devastating earthquake severely damaged Bhuj, Dhamadka and other villages and towns all over the Kutch region. In the wake of this tragedy, the Khatris were brought closer together and a new village was created to rebuild their lives and their craft production, aptly named Ajrakhpur (‘place of Ajrakh’). Today there are Khatris living and working in both villages. Almost the whole village takes part in the block printing, and on entering, this is immediately obvious, with bright indigo, green and mustard yellow cloths drying out in one area and men whacking wet cloths at the washing ghats at another.
Bandhani or Bandhej is a type of tie-dye textile decorated primarily by plucking the cloth with the fingernails into many tiny bindings that form a figurative design. The term bandhani is derived from the Sanskrit word banda ("to tie"). Today most Bandhini making centers are situated in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sindh, Punjab region and in Tamil Nadu where it's known as Sungudi. Earliest evidence of Bandhani dates back to Indus Valley Civilization where dyeing was done as early as 4000 B.C. The earliest example of the most pervasive type of Bandhani dots can be seen in the 6th century paintings depicting the life of Buddha found on the wall of Cave 1 at Ajanta in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Bandhani is also known as Bandhej, Bandhni, Piliya, and Chungidi in Tamil as per the regional dialect.
Bandhani is truly an art and it’s a common sight to see not only women wearing outfits of Bandhej but also the men can be found wearing turbans with Bandhej motifs. The main market is in Gujarat but it is being sold all over India as the demand has increased over the past few decades.