A Canvas of Doors from Kutch

The Batik rug inspired by the doors and windows of Kutch, a district in the westmost part of India, is not merely an artefact of traditional craftsmanship; it is a canvas where each stroke of wax consolidates a decade of wanderings and wonderings.  By Nipun Prabhakar

As a flâneur of Kutch, I have spent over ten years meandering through its landscapes, discovering the soul of the region through its diverse cultures, crafts, architecture and storied doors. These doors, from the ornate gates of Bukhari Dargah to the weathered thresholds of remote villages like Lakhpat, narrate tales of time, tradition, and transitions.

My journey into Batik began with a serendipitous exchange— while doing a fashion shoot on the work of Shakil Khatri in Batik- the art of wax and dye. Learning from Shakil Bhai, a master batik artisan, I started translating my ideas into textiles at his workshop in Mundra.

This rug, adorned with the architectural motifs of Kutch, is as much about the physical journey across varied terrains as it is about the artistic journey through this craft.

As I took on the role of a designer, trying a hand in the artisanal practices, Shakil Bhai, an established artisan, stepped into a role akin to that of a designer, observing my work and providing critical feedback.

The challenge of Batik mirrors the unpredictability of travel. Just as the right temperature is crucial for wax to adhere to fabric, the right moment often defines the experiences captured during my travels.

There is no room for hesitation; each decision in painting with wax, like each step taken through Kutch’s landscapes, is deliberate and spontaneous.

The technique of  controlling and intentionally splattering wax taught me to embrace both the simple and the chaotic, much like navigating the serene and the stormy in the landscape of the region.

This rug is a homage to Kutch’s architectural beauty, an ode to its enduring doors that have stood as silent witnesses to history.

It also reflects a personal evolution, a decade of immersing myself in the region’s culture, culminating in a piece of art that intertwines the lessons of the land with the lessons of the craft.

This is a photo-essay of Nipun Prabhakar, an architect-cum-photographer, whose passion for the land of Kutch culminates in creating an art piece that is more  of a reflective and learning process than a decorative piece of craftwork.