Hand block printing is commonly seen in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region. Bavasars (as the community is known) use mainly natural colours for their craft.The practitioners of this craft in Maharashtra are mainly migrants from other parts of India. The painting is done with delicately carved wooden and brass blocks. The cloth on which hand-printing is done is either hand-woven silk or mill-made chiffon cloth. The results are multi-colour designs in traditional patterns. The ‘Tree of Life’ motif is very widely used. Maharashtrian artisans use both metal and wooden blocks to embellish block print fabrics.
The artisans who practise this craft are known as ‘bavasars.’ Quilts, floor coverings, and bed covers are examples of products that use block print, with the main colours being red and black. The art of block printing is used in both utilitarian and decorative pieces. The block print artisans of this region create a wide range of motifs.
In India, the technique has always been most important as a means of printing textiles, which has been a major industry since at least the 10th century. Cotton fabrics were a significant export from India to all areas of the Indian Ocean in mediaeval times, with demand ranging from East Africa to Indonesia. The importance of this trade is stated in historical records from Egypt and southern Arabia.
Historically, the bulk of textiles purchased were block-printed with resist, mordant, or a mixture of the two. There are, few fragments which were hand-drawn.