While most of us wear clothes that are mass produced in a factory and are exactly similar to thousand other such clothes, my aunt (who runs a boutique) introduced me to the world of Indian textiles and craftsmanship that have evolved over thousands of years and carry with them the creative genius of mankind. Ever since, I am always keen to wear clothes that are handmade by weavers and craftsmen and are an ode to our cultural evolution.
Helping my aunt with her boutique and going on hopping trips with her has taught me to identify various kinds of silks, know the difference between natural and artificial dyes, identify different types of tie and dye methods and know at a glance the type of embroidery. What started out as curiosity turned into a keen interest in the ancient techniques still used on the clothes we wear. That’s why I picked up this book the moment I heard about it.
‘A for Ajrakh – The A to Z of Block Printing’ is actually a book written for children to introduce them to the alphabet and to the arts but it makes a great read for anyone who has some interest in arts and culture. Written by Nina Sabnani who is an illustrator, animator and filmmaker, the book is aesthetically pleasing and informative. Though you can find this information online, the way the different techniques have been interlinked through the narrative is what makes this book special. The alphabet spans over the techniques, the materials, the people who are involved and their tools through fascinating stories and anecdotes.