"Our art connects our community."
Abduljabbar and his brother Adbullah Khatri are the founders of Sidr Craft. Their 22-year-old company, based in the northwestern Indian state of Gujarat, sources textiles dyed in the bandhani tradition from over 150 independent artists.
It is estimated that for five thousand years, Indians have created and used bandhani. “Everyone, from laborers to potters, from goldsmiths to royalty, knew bandhani,” says Abduljabbar. “Rarely has a craft known such a wide, diversified usage.”
The process of creating bandhani is similar to that of making tie-dye—fabric is knotted, pinched, and threaded, and the finished piece is often host to a variety of blended, contrasting hues. Before the dyeings, though, a pattern is sketched onto plain fabric and then perforated evenly with thread. This thread will be removed at the end of the dyeing process, revealing dotted lines the color of the original fabric. The process involves multiple rinsings, wringings, and stitchings—some bandhani pieces take up to four months to complete.
And the result is worth the wait: tiny, intricate patterns of white flecks curve over vivid backdrops. Bandhari textiles—scarves and veils, quilts, clothing, and tapestries—are used today as they were in the 16th century, both for daily use and on special occasions, namely weddings and engagement parties. Today, silk and cotton used by the Sidr Craft artists still comes mainly from India.
Bandhani, engages our communities in productive work, economic growth, and fosters peaceful relationships through the bonds created by this art.
“Bandhani,” Abdullah says, “engages our communities in productive work, economic growth, and fosters peaceful relationships through the bonds created by this art.” He adds “Customers can sense the powerful role bandhani plays in Gujarat, and some clients wait up to a year for their custom orders.”
Sidr enables independent artists to reach beyond their communities, selling their works both throughout India and internationally, to the US, Canada, Australia, and parts of Europe. The brothers explain that many in Gujarat are dependent on the income from their craft. Indeed, Sidr has helped many artists in remote parts of northeastern India to showcase their bandhani to the world.
The brothers are excited to be a part of the IFAM | Online training program. Abduljabbar comments, “Through this program I have learned skills that help me to grow my business and work within a new context. I have also developed lasting working relationships and friendships through this program.”
The best part of the job, for Abdullah, is untying and opening the fabric after it’s been stitched and dyed. “It is the most beautiful thing,” explains Abdullah. “All at once, we are rewarded with the sight of our hard work.”