Chasing Indigo : Part 2 of 5
It was in 2015 that the idea of Chasing Indigo came from visits to Ajrakhpur (Kutch) and conversations we had with master craftsman, Dr. Ismail Khatri and his son Sufiyan. The Khatris have been involved with the craft for over 2500 years and were among the earliest people to work on the color Indigo, an elusive muse that would demand commitment from generations of men. Dr. Ismail Khatri had persevered to have some control in a game that seemed to confound most others.
The magic of Ajrakh comes from its brilliant geometrical patterns and colours that most people associate with the craft. Dr. Khatri spoke to us about the colours used in Ajrakh and the process to make it.
There was madder red that came from the roots of the madder plant. Iron filings and jaggery that yielded black. But it was Indigo that challenged the craftsmen the most and captured the essence of Ajrakh. Neither extraction nor dyeing were straightforward. The complex, unpredictable art of turning the green leaves of a plant into a deep dark blue involved picking the leaves at the right time and then using specific ingredients and managing vat temperature to coax the blue out of the dark yellowish green liquid within it. Even to Dr.Khatri, Indigo was a truly elusive color.
‘Aasmani Sultani’, was the metaphor he used to describe Indigo.
Aasmani – as unpredictable as rain in a desert land like Kutch.
Sultani – as capricious as an emperor’s state of mind.
The metaphor of ‘Aasmani Sultani’ was irresistible and simply demanded that we chase Indigo for ‘Color Journeys’