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Ibrahim Khatri

Interview Summary

Ibrahim's father was also a block printer and mainly designed the skirts known as ghagras, worn by the women of the Meghawar community. Designs in black print were embossed on the ghagara’s white background. He himself began with screen printing on loongi and continued for around 11 or 12 years. When the demand decreased and prices fell he left the profession. Thereafter, he gradually moved into textile designing and block-work, mainly for bandhani textile. In Bhuj, or even in Kachchh more generally, Ismail claims that there is hardly anyone apart from him who designs textiles. He creates both traditional and contemporary designs to sell to craft workers. He is approached directly by his clients and so does not have to expend much effort in marketing his products. His network includes small towns such as Naliya Kothara, Mundra, Jodhpur, Jetpur, Rajkot, Jamnagar Khambhadiya and Khambhat, as well as the metropolises of Delhi and Mumbai. The bandhani makers of Rajasthan have also approached him for some new designs. Ibrahim strongly feels that Kachchh’s bandhani is much more meticulous compared to other areas, where the designs are too jado (thick) and not systematic.

For his business, Ibrahim does not require a great deal of investment, although he imports his tracing paper from Mumbai and Delhi. His regular use of the paper is evident in the fact that he uses around 1,000 metres of tracing paper a month! He also makes hand blocks for printing based on his designs. The sag, or the teak wood for making such blocks is available locally. Ismail also accepts orders based on bandhani samples. He regularly receives orders as bandhani dealers like his designs, especially for banrasi and gharchoda, bridal sarees. His business is steady and is difficult to expand a great deal.

During the earthquake (in January 2001) three of his houses fell down. Where he currently lives suffered only minor damage, and government aid of 50,000 Rupees was also used in repairing his dwellings.

Married in 1982, Ibrahim belongs to a big family: he has 6 brothers, 1 son and 3 daughters. Two of his brothers are retired government employees, two others follow screen printing, and yet another one is in the bandhani business. His son is also engaged in textile design but only studied until class 10 because of his lack of interest in further studies.