A short drive from Ujjain, Behrugarh is a village on the banks of the Shipra River, best known for its batik printing craft. Batik is a traditional form of wax-resist printing on fabric that is popular across the globe. An ancient craft—that arguably originated in Egypt and parts of Asia, over 2,000 years ago—batik reached Madhya Pradesh during the Mughal period. Today, the village of Behrugarh has about 800 men and women engaged in batik printing.

This tedious process of printing is mesmerising. Wax is applied to fabric in designs before it is dyed. The wax resists the dye, and the process is repeated for different colours, allowing for a selective layering of colours. These photos are from Behrugarh Prints, run by Mohammed Iqbal.

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Abhinandita Mathur
The narrow lanes of Berhugarh turn into drying areas for the batik printing units
The narrow lanes of Berhugarh turn into drying areas for the batik printing units
Abhinandita Mathur
Batik artists draw freehand with hot wax
Batik artists draw freehand with hot wax
A craftsman makes a reverse wax batik design on fabric
A craftsman makes a reverse wax batik design on fabric
Abhinandita Mathur
A stack of freshly completed bed covers
A stack of freshly completed bed covers
Abhinandita Mathur
At the final stage, the batik fabric is boiled in water to melt away the wax. The wax is then strained out, and reused
At the final stage, the batik fabric is boiled in water to melt away the wax. The wax is then strained out, and reused
Abhinandita Mathur
Once the wax has been removed, the fabric is left to drain, after which it is hung out to dry
Once the wax has been removed, the fabric is left to drain, after which it is hung out to dry