Blog, Diary, Jim West Craft Tours, photographic journal, textiles., Travel Stories
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Mixed emotions, sadness and sheer joy. A textile journey.

Yesterday was the first full day of our time together on our Travel West tour.

A couple of the ladies arrived very late at night and breakfast was their first introduction to the group and as I pen this, we will begin our first full day of ‘touring’

We began the tour with a visit to the historic India gate. Whilst photographing the landmark itself, we noticed 50 or more women working in the gardens close by. They carried long hand-made brooms and their brightly colored clothing was obscured at times by a small cloud of dust as they swept the ground. Some ladies were crouched pulling weeds. The temperature and the humidity was in the 90’s, I just can’t imagine how hard that is.

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Under a tree were 3 small children unattended. They sat ready for me to take a photo, the older of the small boys said I will put my arm up like a stick. It wasn’t until I had taken my eye from the view finder of the camera that we noticed, the smallest, probably the 18 months old child was playing with a huge shard of glass and horror of all horrors he also had a large piece in his mouth. Our guide quickly retrieved it and found a small girl who was  with them and remonstrated with her about the dangers.

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I’ve worked with people in poverty  in other parts of Asia, I’m not easily shocked, but I am aware, however, I was heartbroken.

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The image will remain with me forever.

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We walked over to another part of the park, and  there were two other small babies, left unattended, one just able to crawl was crying his heart out and pulling himself through the dirt to his sleeping friend. Can we do something about it… not immediately. But ultimately, each person in the world can undertake to make the lives of just one other person better in their own way.

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My friend, Anju, took us under her wing and we visited fabric emporiums. The first a shop with linen and cotton. The linen was made in India, and the cotton was from Italy.

And of course the bundles of delight began to pile high.

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The orange one is mine and Gingers.

We walked past shop fronts, each window offering more delight as we passed by. Then into a shop owned by Mr Singh and I just stood and gasped at the array of fabric. It was more than I could comprehend in one sweep of the eyes.

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My friend tells me this is Arjak fabric.

In Arabic, Ajrak means Blue or Indigo and that explains the christening too. The very word can also be deciphered as twinkling stars in the twilight, which is again a poetic one word description of the sheer fluid intricacies of mathematical contours.

The process of Ajrakh printing is strenuous indeed taking days to finish-

  1. Saaj- A cotton cloth is taken to wash in order to get rid of any finish or starch applied in during the manufacturing process. Soaked in a solution that’s the blend of camel dung, castor oil and soda ash. It is then squeezed out and left alone overnight. It is semi dried under the sun the following day and soaked in the solutions again. After repeating the process for about eight times, it is then washed in plain water.

  2. Kasano- Kasano is about washing the cloth in a solution of Myrobalan (powder of harde tree). It serves the purpose of the first mordant in the dyeing process. After the cloth is sun dried, excessive myrobalan is then brushed off.

  3. And that is just part of the process…

The cottons were so soft, and I know that the Indigo dyed fabric will bleed just a little, but to see so many different styles of fabric in one place was our delight. We paid around, $2.00 to $4.00 per meter and I know I will long for more when I return home.

Take a look at the video, it’s fascinating.

Later in the afternoon were treked to  purchase plain colors for the newcomers, one bolt after another, pulled gently from the stack and assessed for use.

And of course as the sun set, a new case to put it all in.

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That’s not all we did, but about as much as I can add in one sitting so early in the morning, the day needs to begin and I have work to do. However, the anticipation of the day is very exciting.

2 Comments

  1. Fascinating video Pam, so interesting, and the array of fabrics you saw today oh my word ..I’d need two suitcases …at least !
    Visiting India, and Africa, is emotionally hard at times, amazing country but some of the things you see …heartbreaking.

    Like

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