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Hand Block Printing of Bagru, Rajasthan

Hand-Block Printing, Textiles, Weaving, Spinning, Khadi

Hand Block Printing of Bagru, Rajasthan

Bagru, a small town contiguous with Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, has long been known for its clay-resist / dabu process of patterning on textiles. The Chippa community of printers had in the past block-printed on hardwearing reja cotton for the local tribal and peasant community. The social significance of the printed textile, the colours and motifs printed indicated marital status and distinguished the ethnic identity of the wearer.

The block printing done in Bagru mainly uses earth dabu prints on indigo, red, blue or yellow coloured ground with usually, harda work done on it. The motifs are simple which include floral and linear patterns. A remarkable feature of the this traditional printing form is that animals are not printed on fabric meant for costumes.

Although today the printing is largely done for the new urban market, with finer textures replacing age old coarse base fabrics; the printing technique and the colour palette used of deep red, indigo-blue, green, iron-black and marigold yellow remains the same, even though chemical dyes have largely replaced the natural dyes of the past.

The motifs both floral and geometrical, are hand-blocked printed through a complex process. The specially prepared clay is imprinted onto the textile at different stages to safeguard and retain the colour from additional dye dips. This tradition of clay-resist dabu block printing remains vibrant today through the ancient community of Chippas who continue to practice and transmit their skills and knowledge orally and through apprenticeship.

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