Never Looking Back

From Woolen Veils to Silk Saris

Abdulaziz comes from a Khatri family of Bhadli, Kutch, who tied and dyed the woolen veils of Rabari women.  Historically, they worked closely with weavers and Rabaris.  Rabari women hand spun the wool of their sheep and gave it to weavers to create their veils.  The weavers passed on the white veils to Aziz's ancestors, who decorated them with dotted patterns- variations for each stage of life- and returned them to the Rabari women.  The system was as much personal as professional.  Aziz's mother had aspirations.  She tied a special piece for competition, and won the President’s National Award for craftsmanship in 1993-- the first award for bandhani work on wool. Abdulaziz learned traditional patterns from her and his grandmother, and dyeing techniques from his father. 

Over time, Rabari women began to prefer softer, lighter acrylic for their veils, and then cotton and polyester prints.  As the traditional market waned, the family sought work in contemporary markets. 

Motivated to learn more, Aziz had received a scholarship from the All India Handicrafts Board in 1998 to study natural dyeing in Dhamadka. In 2003 he also studied at ATIRA (Ahmedabad Textile Industries Research Association), where he learned about water treatment, water conservation, environmental concerns and various types of dyes.

Aziz’s proficiency with dyes and color matching began to be in great demand among weavers, NGOs and companies.

In 2005 Aziz studied design at Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, in the first class of artisan students."My experience at KRV gave me the skill of keen observation, and confidence. I have the advantage of being both an artisan and a designer.  I can do what others cannot! I learned the importance of exposure and English language.  My dream is to go abroad for a year, to learn design, international culture and English.”            

Since graduating in 2006, Aziz has never looked back. He and his brother, who attended the design course in 2008, have taken the family from woolen veils for local shepherds to silk stoles and saris for high end urban and international markets.  They create exquisite traditional classics, as well as exciting innovations. Aziz's dyeing skills are unmatched.  His imaginative and skilled work has brought him opportunities to work with designers, scholars and customers from all over the world.  Two of Aziz's pieces will be shown in a major upcoming exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Sponsored by Somaiya Kala Vidya and Thrums/Clothroads, Aziz is attending the International Folk Art Market/ Santa Fe, fulfilling a long held dream.

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