WHILE WANDERING THROUGH the large rambling bazaar in Mandvi, which is in the former Kingdom of Kutch (now part of Gujarat), we came across a workshop where bandhani textiles for clothing were being made.
Bandhani is a method of producing patterned dyed silks and cotton. Put simply, a piece of cloth, already dyed one colour or not at all, is prepared as follows. Parts of the cloth are gathered up to form tight bundles fastened by fine threads. The bundles, which look like small pimples are distributed to form patterns. The tied cloth is then dyed. The dye reaches all parts of the cloth except those enclosed in the tiny bundles. When the bundles are untied the patches of the cloth that had been shielded from the dye remain the original colour. This process can be repeated several times using different dyes to create an interesting pattern.
The shop the looked at, Khatri Ibrahim Siddik & Co, is the oldest bandhani workshop in Mandvi. It has been run by the same family for fifteen generations .
During our recent visit (January 2023), we have come across several businesses that have passed from generation to generation. In Bhuj, the Shivam Daining (sic) restaurant is run by chefs whose great grandfathers, grandfathers, and fathers, have all been cooks to the Maharaos of Kutch. Likewise, there is a bakery in Bhuj with an ancient wood fired stove. This business has passed through at least four generations. Nearby, there is a knife, scissors, and sword maker, who is the fourth or fifth generation of a family, which has been in this trade for over more than a century.
I am certain that there are plenty more examples of families in Kutch specialising in skills that have been passed from one generation to the next. I wonder whether these skills are in the genes, or simply taught by one generation to the next, and so on.