Blocks carved out of wood depicting several beautiful and complex designs have been a specialty of Rajasthan for several centuries. Blocks would be carved from hand and dipped in ink and pressed over the fabric to create various designs. The main centers of Block Printing are Sanganer, Bagru, Akola, Jodhpur and Barmer, having their own styles of printing and motifs.
We had discussed Sanganer prints in the previous post, the other famous prints are:
Bagru print motifs are a little different from the Sanganer prints. These initially included designs inspired from local flora and fauna, and with time geometric prints, intertwined tendrils (bels), and animal prints were added.
The main differences between Sanganer and Bagru printing were that Sanganer prints were mainly on white background with very rich colours, whereas in Bagru, printing was on dyed or coloured fabrics with dull prints having a reddish tinge. Sanganer had an abundant source of water which aided in the washing and dyeing process, hence the difference in the results.
Dabu or mud resist printing is another fascinating style of block printing, Dabu derived from ‘dabaa’ or pressing. It basically works on negative spaces. The fabric is prepared by washing, drying and sometimes dyeing to give it a base colour. A dabu paste is prepared of mud, lime and gum. The printing blocks are then dipped in this dabu paste and are pressed on the fabric to create the designs, and then sprayed with saw dust to delay the drying.
This fabric is then dyed and then washed so the mud washes off revealing the designs in the base colour of the fabric.