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Meet the Artisans Behind Batik

Historically, batik was an art form practised by the Khatri community whose home is the state of Gujarat. Over time, other cultures and communities in Gujarat, and eventually other regions of India, began practising the techniques to create batik. Today, Mundra and Mandvi in the Kutch district of Gujarat are the centres for the production of Indian batik. Many batik prints produced by these Kutchi artisans can be found in markets in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Khatri artisans prepare fabric for batik printing
Khatri artisans prepare fabric for batik printing

In the 1950s, the area of Cholamandal Artists’ Village in Injambakkam, Tamil Nadu was populated by students of the Government School of Arts and Crafts. Cholamandal Artists’ Village was only established in 1966 with the funding and support of government and non-government organisations, including the Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Art in New Delhi). The object of establishing this artisans’ village was to preserve and sustain the traditional arts and crafts of India. This includes many art forms ranging from batik to pottery and sculpting. The largest batik exhibition was held at Cholamandal Artists’ Village in 1966 and was the first of its kind in India. Today, the Artists Handicrafts Association manages the permanent exhibition and sale of batik works from the artisans and craftsmen of the Cholamandal Artists’ Village in Injambakkam.

The 1966 sign for Cholamandal Artists’ Village still stands today
The 1966 sign for Cholamandal Artists’ Village still stands today

In Indore, two artisans are particularly praised for perpetuating the traditional techniques of batik in Madhya Pradesh. Father and son batik printers, Babu Bhai and Yusuf Bhai, and their independent workshop have been producing traditional and contemporary batik items for local markets and exports for over four decades.

Babu Bhai prepares a batik printed fabric for ironing   Yusuf Bhai in his office with endless batik printed fabric in the background
L: Babu Bhai prepares a batik printed fabric for ironing
R: Yusuf Bhai in his office with endless batik printed fabric in the background

Batik artisans all across India produce striking traditional and contemporary motifs on an array of items. Elaborate Indian batik designs continue to appear on traditional items such as sarees, dupattas, wall hanging and bed linen, while also being employed in contemporary items such as scarves, beach sarongs and home furnishings.

Traditional batik printed sarees  Contemporary batik printed bedding
L: Traditional batik printed sarees
R: Contemporary batik printed bedding

 

Images: Gaatha, D'Source, Spice Flair, Pinterest, Indus Decor