On the outskirts of Jaipur, in the shadow of the magnificent Amber Fort, you'll find a beautifully restored haveli which is home to the Anokhi Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of block printing.
I'm sure you already know about my love for block printing - so keen was I to visit the Anokhi Museum that within minutes of checking into Hotel Sweet Dreams, we'd dumped our bags, flagged down a passing tuk tuk and headed to textile heaven.
If the haveli wasn't beautiful enough, just look at the exhibits! Most of these clothes are contemporary Anokhi pieces but the blouses and skirts in the centre of the collage below are tribal pieces dating back to the 19th Century.
Click on the collages to enlarge the photos.
These are details from the current exhibition of jajams, large patterned floor spreads coloured in traditional shades of red and black, once commonly found in Rajasthan.
Mujeeb Khan, who has carved the wooden printing block by hand for over forty years demonstrates just how intricate his work is. His tools belonged to his father, carving is a family tradition.
Although I'm aware of the intricacies of block printing I'd never given much though to how the blocks are made, what an eye opener! I was thrilled when Mujeeb presented me with one of his flower posies.
The only other visitors to the museum that afternoon were a French couple, we took it in turns to have a bash at block printing and, when I say bash I mean it, those printing blocks are heavy on the hands.
That's my excited face! I even happier when I was given the handkerchief to take home!
Elsewhere Salim was busy printing some curtains for Anokhi's homeware department and let us have a go.
Back in the days of the Overland Trail, the hippies were buying block printed bedspreads in Indian bazaars and getting the local tailors to sew them into western-style dresses. Anokhi tapped into this trend and manufactured their own range of hippie clothes, examples of which are on display.
Never in my life have I coveted dresses more. These beauties are on loan from the original owner, a British lady, who bought them in the early 1970s.
I was tempted to break the glass and do a runner with the exhibits!
Although those dresses couldn't be mine (sob!) I was determined to treat myself to something from Anokhi while we were in Jaipur. We've visited their shops elsewhere in India but the Jaipur branch is the brand headquarters and we'd been told that their cafe was well worth a visit, so a couple of days later off we went. I can vouch for the cafe, their organic feta tapenade salads were incredible (for full menu see HERE).
Anokhi, like Cottage Cottage and FabIndia, sell clothes which are ethically sourced, fairly traded and beautifully made. No trend-led pieces here, just clothes you'll want to wear forever.
I didn't leave empty-handed, it would be virtually impossible not to. I bought a maxi dress (which you'll see in another post) and this block printed, quilted riding coat which I loved at first sight but it wasn't a holiday romance, I've worn it almost constantly since I got home, it goes with everything I own!
For all our photos of the Anokhi Museum click HERE
Linking to Patti & the Gang for Visible Monday.