Bandhani is the art of resist dying by tying knots in the fabric - by plucking the fabric with fingernails and then binding the fabric with thread. Bandhej (the art of tying) is done by the women of the Khatri community. It is a special skill that is passed down from generation to generation. The technique of dying, meanwhile, is learnt by the men in the community and also passed down from generation to generation. The eco-system of the craft in the past was very stable with each family working with a set of families. And the bandhani textiles were very time consuming each textile done with extreme care. Both the wearer and the maker took pride in the craft. This suddenly changed in 1950’s as the Kutch opened to factory-made textiles and the local communities moved to new lifestyles. The craft has since had to rely on external markets for survival. The quality of making decreased as the traders sought out cheaper bandhani in large quantities.
Khatri Fahd of Qasbi learned the craft by watching his parents work on Bandhani as a child. He would sometimes join them in their work after school hours. When he and his brother took up the craft, the focus was to bring back some of the pride and magic the bandhani textiles of the past used to carry. Qasbi makes both traditional and contemporary Bandhani. All designs are full of spirit and inspiration, as intricate patterns and abstract geometries and traditional patterns are experimented with and reinterpreted. The Qasbi focus has also shifted from low priced bandhani work to more intricate patterns, so as to halt the rapidly decreasing number of women artisans with exquisite hand-tie skills. The emphasis is on the care given by the woman artisan to hand tie each dot. And the slowness of time involved in making these complex patterns. And increase the overall value of a bandhani textile so that the women earn a decent income for their skills.
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