Madhya Pradesh is one of the most delightful craft havens of India. Like most craft stories originate from lifestyle needs of Nomadic tribes, the origin of Batik is dated about 5000 years ago in India. Madhya Pradesh had an extensive tribal population and it was easier for karigars/craftsmen to settle from different parts of North India to cater to their growing needs of the tribal population. Moreover the king of Ujjain patronized crafts and encouraged artisans to settle down around the Bherugarh belt of Ujjain. This also boomed the craft sector growth as well.
Large open markets were set up wherein the tribals or adivasis would buy the materials for their garments from these dyers/printers. A unique method of resist dyeing using sand was use to color the fabric initially and create patterns on the fabric. This popularly came to be known as Dabu – a dyeing technique bought to Ujjain from Rajasthan.This was later replaced with Batik method that used wax instead of sand to create those printing patterns.The prominent color was Alizarine which is was characteristic of any tribal drapery was a must in the resist dyed fabrics since they were the primary customers. Alizarin was made from the roots of the Madder plant. Before the Alizarine dyes, prints by the name of ‘Jodhpuriya’ were made for the Adivasis of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly this method of mordant resist printing spread to Indonesia through the Indian traders and the technique of Indonesia batiks using a pen travelled back to India with the same set of merchants.
Over a period of time the craft extensively flourished and then slowly declined in India. Only a few artisan cluster remained and one of them is Bherugarh near Ujjain. Interestingly it still practices both the printing and pen Indonesian Batiks till date. A tiny locality behind the Bherugrah jail is the cluster of Bherugarh uising inspirations from both geometric and tribal art too.
Our idea was to present the unique adaptability of Batik to any painting arts of India. We used the Indonesian style of Batik as an art narrative of combining a weave print and painting form through a collection called Narmada.
Narmada is powerful narrator of craft-stories from India - blended into one exquisite, truly one-of-a-kind, saree collection. An ode to a divine river that nourished many stories standing the test of time. Our stories has been a culmination of craft and art narratives of Madhya Pradesh – Gond by Bhils, Bundi and Phad paintings from Rajasthan, Batik by Chippa community from Ujjain and Maheswari by Ansaris from the region for the last 2 years.
This has not only helped us bring to the foreground the dexterity and skill of Batik craftsmen but celebrated the rich craft and cultural legacy through this initiative It's a testament to the versatility of the craft and the creativity of the artisans involved in creating this lovely art collection provide livelihoods for many skilled artisans.We hope to bring you for such stories through our various cluster projects.