19 November 2009

Dyer at Jamnagar

What was the question?
In Jamnagar we were treated to visits to bandhani workers, including a home where the family tied by hand the thousands of tiny knots that prevent the uptake of the dye, to the dyer — this man, who carried on a translated conversation while simultaneously stirring the cloth in a pot full of hot dye and squirting acid from a old plastic drink bottle into the mixture — and eventually to the shop, where we learned how to distinguish fine bandhani from also-ran material.

The bandhani process is perhaps better known in western countries as tie-&-dye; in New Zealand it's usually abbreviated to "tie-dye". Nothing I've seen produced here bears any resemblance in style — and certainly not quality — to the remarkable work I saw in Gujarat, particularly Jamnagar. Even if (like me) looking at textiles excites you about as much as watching your fingernails grow, the Jamnagar bandhani work is worth checking out, if only to marvel at the mind-bogglingly intensive labour and phenomenal skill that goes into its production. You can see an example of bandhani work from further north in Gujarat on this photo of silk patolas.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

2 comments:

Barbara said...

Oh! What's that from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" - 'I am translated!' I like the little drop of dye on his forehead, and the photo of the silk patolas just made my heart skip. Photography aside, it is wonderful to see that there are people producing something beautiful rather than simply searching for fame and celebrity and ranting like clanging gongs ...

pohanginapete said...

Barbara, well said.
(The mark on his forehead is actually the remains of a tilaka — the dye was a vivid, deep green!)