For hundreds of years people of Rajasthan have practiced and perfected the art of printing with vegetable dyes and mineral colours. Block printing, tie and dye work, heavily embroidered fabrics, motifs etc. are all included in Rajasthani textiles.
This art of handblock printing, dyeing and painting separately or together to produce attractive fabrics and patterns is very ancient in India. It flourished in different parts of India and the differences lay probably in techniques, ingredients and equipment. The value of a natural dye was appreciated greatly by calico painters. In spite of mechanical processes and synthetic dyes and chemicals, the art has survived in many regions. However, the extent to which it is practiced is less now. Synthetics are easier to make and maintain and are therefore preferred by the local population now. The art is kept alive by local artisans and the government is also helping by organising exhibitions etc. for such craftsmen. Reports of foreign travellers, reports on exhibitions of Indian art at different times, Indo-European textile history and reports from English factories are excellent sources because they give detailed information about printing, painting and dyeing in various regions of India existing during the 17 century and before.
Due to the recent spurt in the export market the textile industry of Rajasthan has been doing very well. Foreign buyers like to purchase such items as they are characteristic of Rajasthan and unique to the place. Bagru, a small village near Jaipur, is a place where this art is alive. There is a need felt to study the process and spread awareness about how this work is done. There was an investigation carried out during the years 1976-78. The present work on Bagru prints has been undertaken by Calico Museum of Textiles under the programme of Study of the Contemporary Textile Crafts of India publication. It deals with the technology, sequence of processes, ingredients used, analysis of motifs and uses of fabrics, besides the history and socio-economic aspects of the industry and people involved. Photographs, line sketch illustrations and sample swatches are given to bring the reader as close to the art as possible.
The terms used for various processes, materials, finished products and trade names are as locally prevalent. The correct Hindi equivalent is indicated where necessary. Almost all the terms have been explained in the text and therefore many of these terms have not been included in the glossary.
Rajasthan is the heart of block printing. Most of the work is done by hand only. The art of block printing & dyeing is associated with home furnishing and fabric for personal wear. The main centers for the block printing are Sanganer and Bagru.
History of Block Printing
This attractive art has had people practicing it since 3000 B.C. Scraps of cloth found in the ruins of Mohenjo Daro show the existence of this art in that period. Machlipatnam and Malwa, in Gujarat were important printing centres in the past. Now, Jaipur has become the internationally acknowledged center for block printed fabrics and textiles. Sir George Wall wrote in his monumental work Indian Art at Delhi in 1902, "the Sanganer town of Jaipur state must however be regarded as the very metropolis of the calico printing craft of India so far as conceptions and techniques are concerned". It was in Jaipur that this art of printing began. It is said that Sawai Jai Singh was responsible for giving importance to the art of printing. He invited artists and craftsmen from different parts of the country to settle here and under his benign patronage this art started to take roots so strong that today, almost two and a half centuries later we see a flourishing industry.
Sanganer is a suburb of Jaipur. The printing style is called as Sanganeri Print. Cotton fabrics using vegetable dyes are printed. Red and Orange with floral prints in...