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Vijendra Chhippa

The man who is keeping the traditional art of Bagru alive.

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“Hand-printing and fabric dyeing is my ancestral work, as it is for the most people in Bagru. We have our own big studio that holds a number of tables where my father, and before him his father, used to Bagru print the fabric. The place is the same, and so are the materials used, but a lot has changed within these two generations. My ancestors used their skills and work for barter, and now I’m made capable of taking this art to the international level, from where we get such good prices for the art that makes the families working with us, earn 3 or 4 times the wages they would otherwise get. My luck took good turn when in 1997 a team of students from Syracuse University arrived at Bagru. Out of them a student, Alicia Ory Denicola, who later became assistant professor, took generous amount of interest in our work. She helped us by introducing new designs in the art and giving it an international level of exposure. Later in 2009, 

from the Union college New York, another group of students arrived at our studio and in that group had come my future business partner and a dear friend Jeremy Fritzhand. He stayed with us for nine months and during that time, observed our work carefully. He suggested of opening a partnership firm that will not only bring more exposure to the traditional art but shall also bring modern amendments in it. The suggested plan concluded in 2011 when we established the Bagru textiles. Now our work has become more sophisticated and productive both for us and the families of our village that are still engaged in Bagru painting on fabric. We now work with designers and customers directly, breaking the chain of middlemen. Doing so has enabled us to offer local artisans 3 and 4 times the wages they would otherwise earn. Working directly with consumers has added another good factor in our work- customization. Customers from across the globe send their design requirements and we work directly with the specifications provided to us. The business is blooming now at such a pace that now I rarely ever have free time in my hands. Apart from business, our friends from New York had garnered recognition, too, for this local traditional art. Now, designing institutes, of both global and national level come here to organize workshops at our premises.”

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