Project Dhamadka: Cloth in Crisis

by - Thursday, April 02, 2009

UPDATE: The Khatris have been successful in the purchase of new land.

Ajrakh cloth still wet from washing

Ajrakh blockprinters now face critical water shortages. The Maiwa Foundation seeks to raise $35,000 to aid in relocation.

The First Fundraising Auction Thursday April 16th at 7:30 pm in the Net Loft on Granville Island. RVSP to Maiwa 604 669 3939 or

Water is vital to the production of ajrakh cloth. Through each stage of preparation, mordanting and dyeing, the character of the water will influence the final work - from the shades of the colours to the success or failure of the entire process.

The Khatri community lives in the Kutch Desert on India’s western border. The three famous brothers: Razzaque, Ismail, and Jabbar have come together to solve this crisis in traditional blockprinting. Falling water tables and impurities such as salt and iron have forced the group to scout a new site for their ajrakh studio. The group must raise funds to relocate.

Ismail and RazzaqueThe Khatris can trace their blockprinting heritage back nine generations. Razzaque has won the National Award for Craft (as did his father before him) and Ismail has received an honourary doctorate from De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

The Khatri’s have produced a collection of exhibition quality double-sided Ajrakh to be auctioned for the cause. Maiwa has donated furniture and pieces from its textile collection Many guilds and other groups are working together with Maiwa to ensure that the artisans are able to relocate and the blockprinting craft may continue.

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