These are my notes from today, but how on earth can I sum everything up? Today was a good day. We went firstly to an excellent dye, weave and print business run by Ruby Ghuznazi. She was a remarkable woman and she had strong views about the role of women in Bangladesh.  Through her business, which is based around natural dye, she established a system that allowed for jobs and a better standard of living because the chemical dyes were not going into the water that people were using to bathe and wash pots.

Plate 1
  • Aranya Natural Dyes and Fabrics, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Plate 2
  • Ruby Ghuznazi (right)
Plate 3
  • Woodblock - printing border
Plate 4
  • Natural Dyes: Indigo is contained within the front left hand bowl
Plate 5
  • WoodBlock Printing

She began in the 1980s and collected designs from all over Bangladesh, from which she published a book. She also took two weavers over to London to see the Whitechapel exhibition ‘Woven Air’ during that period. She talked about vegetable dyes very much in the way of Ethel Mairet in that natural dyes all tone, this meant that the women who embroider or the men who weave and print would not have to be restricted by very specific instructions. She said she tried to show the women that the original, traditional designs were the best, and she tried to persuade the consumer that one classic, beautifully made sari was better than many modern, badly designed saris, worth the same amount.  

Plate 6
  • Cloth prior to dyeing
Plate 7
  • Dyeing is done by hand - here the fabric is being dyed with indigo
Plate 8
  • Indigo is initially green when removed from the dye
Plate 9
  • Indigo Dye gradually becomes blue after a few minutes of oxidising

She also talked about the issue of the dyes fading beautifully (much in the way of Ethel Mairet). I asked her why men seemed to print and weave while women embroidered and she said firstly it was because it was hard work, then that it was a tradition but was not upheld everywhere and then that men could work for long hours uninterrupted, while women had to work and do every other job too.

Plate 10
  • Wooden Dye Block
Plate 11
  • Dyed Fabrics drying