Dabu is a hand block printing technique involving several which requires lot of vigour. This technique is mainly practiced in Bagru city, Jaipur. Dabu printing process involves washing of the fabric followed by sun drying to remove impurities. The pieces of cloth are then laid upon huge printing tables. After this, mud resist paste is prepared with gum, mud and waste wheat chaff. The carved wooden blocks are dipped in this mud resist paste and imprinted on the fabric. The fabric is then dried under the sun. Once dried, the fabric is dipped in dye to acquire the desired colour. The fabric is cleansed again to ensure that all excess dye is removed. Common motifs that are usually printed are geometric patterns, floral patterns, birds, animal forms etc.
Originated from the lands of Rajasthan, Dabu print is an ancient hand block printing technique. Dabu print fabric has its own charm and beauty that is recognized around the world. The practice of Dabu print, almost died in the last century; but it was revived by artisans and today, it is a flourishing business across the globe. Dabu print fabric is known for displaying subtle depth. Many fashion designers have taken inspiration from Dabu print fabric and have created beautiful garment collections.
Dabu printing is a painstaking and a labour intensive process.The Resist/Dabu technique used involves using wax or gum clay mixed with resin. This is applied with a brush or block, or by hand to portions of the cloth and the colour is applied subsequently. The wax is then washed off in hot or flowing water and the applied colour give a diffused effect. Block printing is done on the portion of the cloth where the original colour is retained. Specific outlines and patterns are highlighted against the contrast colour. The design gets a broken appearance like batik due to the leakage of colour once the resist is washed off.
The patterns used are quite traditional, inspired by motifs that are picked from nature, and further produced on wooden blocks. Some of the popular methods of Dabu printing are Kahma, Kantedar, Lal titri and Dholika.