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Explore: Photo Essay

By Christine Pemberton

There can be few (female) visitors to India who have not heard of Anokhi and made a beeline for their shops, scooping up armfuls of their iconic block-printed skits and scarves and kurtis. But what is less well-known, perhaps, is the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, a little gem, tucked away down a dusty road, in the shadow of Amber Fort.
Chalo! Let’s go exploring

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

This is where it all began. A ruined haveli standing literally at the Kheri Gate entrance of Amber Fort, just outside Jaipur in Rajasthan. Lovingly repaired, restored and transformed into…

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

…this beauty, the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, where their in-house archives are preserved and exhibited, showcasing to visitors where the traditional inspiration behind their 21st century shopping.

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

In a traditional haveli, the courtyard is where the family would meet and sit and gossip, enjoying the cool air from the fountain as well as the cross ventilation. Unlike today’s cookie-cutter homes, traditional Rajasthani homes were each uniquely angled in order to catch the best of the prevailing breezes.

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

Wandering through the exhibition of earlier Anokhi collections where contemporary clothes are juxtaposed with the traditional Rajasthani clothes that were their inspiration, you feel part of a continuum.

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

Craftsman work in the museum, demonstrating the traditional techniques used to craft Anokhi’s fabrics, using wooden blocks to hand print. Skills are thus kept alive.

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

Making, by hand, one of the blocks that will then be used to hand print fabric. Every detail of the creation of the fabric is painstakingly researched and carried out.

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

A labour of love turns meticulous hand printing into a contemporary fashion statement.

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

Block printing by hand requires extreme precision, since each layer of colour is superimposed on the earlier layers, so the block has to be matched up exactly. The challenge from machine printing is huge, and it is only when you see such a labour of love, and such skill, that you begin to appreciate the detail that has gone into each and every Anokhi garment.

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing is unique in the country, showcasing patterns and designs that are essentially rooted in village India. No rich, heavily embroidered saris here, no rich maharaja’s brocades, but simpler, traditional fabrics – a rural heritage that might otherwise be easily forgotten.

Anokni Musuem of Hand Printing Image

Traditional skills being revitalized and re-energised. The Anokhi story and – just as importantly – their legacy, on display in a pretty little haveli in a pretty little town in Rajasthan.


 

 

 

 

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