Mata ni pachedi is a method of painting on fabric which developed several hundred years ago. The original paintings followed a set pattern in red and black, depicting the Mother Goddess (Mata) in various forms.
In Ahmedabad a handful of families still carry on the traditions. Cotton fabric is first de-starched and then treated with harada paste, to prepare it for absorbing the colour. The outlines of the figures are painted first, with a black colour prepared from jaggery and iron. Then, using a dye extracted from tamarind seeds, the red areas are filled in.
After the application of each colour, the fabric is boiled in alizarin solution, to bring out the colour, and then washed. The original designs have now transformed to more artistic illustrations but the style of depicting mythical characters remains the same. Artists now incorporate many more colours but they are still extracted from natural materials.
Sanjay Manubhai Chitara and his brother Vasant Manubhai Chitara are two award winning Mata ni Pachedi artisans in Ahmedabad. On 26th September all four of us (Jeni, Swati, Murji and I) are attending a workshop with one or other of these talented brothers to try the technique for ourselves!