Kutch textiles: Vankar Vishram Valji, the Indigo dyer & weaver

Posted on May 10, 2019 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Vankar Vishram Valji  Vankar Vishram Valji's

Vankar Vishram Valji indigo dye

Vankar Vishram Valji  Vankar Vishram Valji

 

One of the most fascinating studio visits in Kutch was a trip to master weaver, Vankar Shamji Vishram's indigo-dyeing and weaving studio in a village called Bhujodi. Shamji is the son of Shri Vishram Valji Vankar, who won the India's prestigious National Award for weaving in 1974. Shamji started weaving under the guidance of his father at the age of 15 and has been running the studio for over 20 years. The Vankar community are renowned for their weaving traditions, and they often collaborate with the Rabari community who are known for their spinning and embroiderery to make beautiful shawls. Now Shamji and his family train and employ around 60 famiies and 90 hand loom weavers in Bhujodi to preserve the traditional craft.

Soon after we arrived at Shamji's family home/studio, he started to explain to us his organic indigo-dyeing process, and I was pleased to learn that he only uses natural ingredients found locally. The process of indigo dyeing requires warm and stable temperature for fermentation to take place, hence, the underground indigo vats provide the suitable environment for it. Another important ingredient –alkaline– is extracted from cattle's urine and dung (ammonia), which undoubtedly is abundance in India.

 

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji  Vankar Vishram Valji

 

What I like about Shamji's studio is that since it is also his family home, so family members and artisans all work on different tasks around the spacious home studio. It has an open and authentic feel to the place, and visitors can wander from one weaving area to another to observe the spinning and weaving process.

 

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji  Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

 

Their high quality woven products brought them important clients like Fabindia, Cottage Emporium, and Nalli, as well as specialist shops from overseas. Again, all of us couldn't resist trying on their beautiful shawls and scarves at prices that are about 1/4 of what you would pay in the U.K.

 

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

 

Before we left, we were greeted by Shamji's mother, who kindly allowed us to take photos of her traditional costume and incredible jewellery. We were told that her silver ankle bands weigh about 1 kilo – Imagine trying to run with them on! Amazing.

After visiting several artisans' studios in Kutch, it made me rethink my shopping habits – buying directly from the artisans completely change my relationship with the products. There are memories and stories behind the products, therefore I am likely to cherish them more than items bought from a highstreet shop. If we all change the way we shop, I believe it would certainly bring about positive changes in the future.

 

Vankar Vishram Valji  Vankar Vishram Valji

Vankar Vishram Valji

Bhujodi

Vankar Vishram Valji

Bhujodi

Vankar Vishram Valji

 

 


This post was posted in Travel, Designers & artists, Design, weaving, Textiles, natural dyeing, indigo dyeing, India, Indian design, Kutch and was tagged with textiles, weaving, natural dyeing, indigo dyeing, India, Indian design, Kutch, Indian textiles, Kutch textiles, Vankar Vishram Valji, Bhujodi

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