The city of royals is the hub of mesmerizing traditional and cultural handicrafts. The spectacular and extensive hand block printing is one of them. It is blessed with a number of communities who perform this craft for centuries for instance, the Chhipa community in Rajasthan.
They are so skilled in their work that even modern woven textiles can not restrict their success. With the onset of western attires in demand, artisans began to use blocks printed on skirts, shirts, tops and dresses. It keeps the ancient hand-crafted technology intact.
Hand Block printing is the process of imprinting patterns on textiles like cotton or silk materials by engraving wood with the desired design. The authentic art of Hand Block printing is a traditional technique which uses hand-carved teak wood, soaked in the dye and hand printed on cotton or silk. The motifs and patterns of the block range from all variations of flora and fauna to geometrical and abstract ones. Nowadays even contemporary prints have ushered in the market. This is the earliest and slowest way to print textiles but it can produce a high degree of artistic effect, some of which cannot be procured by any other method.
Several centres for Hand Block Printing in India includes Gujarat, Rajasthan, Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. But the most common ones are Bagru and Sanganer block Printing of Rajasthan. For over 500 years, this textile craft has flourished under the royals of Jaipur. It started when a large number of hand block artist moved from Gujarat to Rajasthan. Water plays a vital role as black shades always looks the best after washing the clothes in waters of Sanganer.
Alluring lines and tangled intricacy in subtle shades are one of the best Sanganeri-style features. The dyes used for fabric printing are the pigments from vegetables and plants thus emitting a beautiful odour from finished products. On the contrary, the bright colors of blue tones, red and yellow are the main traits of Bagru prints. They too, are made from eco-friendly colours.
Indigo is used to make blue, green indigo mixed pomegranate, turmeric made of yellow and red from adder roots. Chippa is a tribe from Sawai Madhopur and Sikar who settled here about three centuries ago. Bagru prints are known for their bold and vibrant designs such as Tendrils, Flowers & Birds or Jaal Designs and human or animal characters. Bagru printing is done on a novel dyed background, such as indigo, and the prints have a slight red tint on them. Mostly, the Bagru pattern is large and bold, and the majority of prints are made with relatively small blocks on a very small table known as “Paatiya”.
With the passing years, the printing process underwent immense evolution. Some contemporary techniques of Hand Block printing that are prevalent now include Discharge printing, Direct Block printing and Resist Printing. The only hack of preserving the block printed textiles is not to dry under direct sunlight in order to prevent colour fading. Also they must be washed separately in cold water.
Thus, if you ever happen to visit the multi-coloured and cultured city of crafts, don’t forget to traverse through the lanes of local markets for the best block printed textiles.