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Dyeing and shopping

Today we traveled out of Jaipur to a dye shop to meet an award-winning master dyer and to dye some fabric ourselves. First they showed us beautiful examples of tie-dyed fabric with an explanation of how they do it, carefully rolling up the fabric and tying it tight.

The workspace was cluttered, but I’m sure they knew exactly where everything was.

The precision of their results is amazing.  Here’s the reveal of one of their scarves, and you can see how tightly it’s wrapped. 

Then it was our turn.  We climbed up steep marble stairs (no hand rail, of course!) to the rooftop where we spread out on blankets in the sunshine to fold, pleat and tie our dampened fabrics.  As you can see, you loop the fabric around your big toe, pull the fabric tight, and proceed to tie it.  There is a trick to tying tightly which I only sort of mastered, but they were there to help us. In fact, one of the men kindly took the fabric away from me and redid it correctly (that’s my useless toe in the corner of the shot.)

Here are the well-worn scissors we used to cut the string.

Then we went back downstairs to the dye pots for the first dip,

after which we air dried our pieces and then gave them a second dip.

Then the master showed us his antique textiles. Pink is a color only for royals, we learned. This gold embroidered piece was made by his mother, so probably about 100 years old.

The master showed us how to wrap a turban, and Sujata and Amy tried them on, to everyone’s delight.

Then it was time for the great reveal as we untied our knots and spread open the fabric. All were gorgeous!  Here are just a few:

We took the bus back to Jaipur for some shopping at the state-run handicrafts emporium. I picked up some lovely fabrics and sets of bangles for Cai and Sarah. After that, we walked along Mansagar Lake, a lovely body of water with the iconic Jal Mahal (water palace) at its center. The trees on the lake were busy with birds, I wish I knew which kinds.  We saw camelswaiting for tourists to ride them, also this painted elephant that Cathy paid a small fee to feed.  Back at the hotel, we picked up our tunics from the hotel shop, had drinks in the bar and then went on to dinner. Afterwards we were offered henna painting that was fun, and I love the outcome, even on my wrinkly hand. And so to bed for a good night’s sleep at last!

 

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