India has a plethora of unique arts and crafts to boast about. One of them is the hand block printing that everyone in the fashion industry swears by for its versatility and elegance. People of varied customs and cultures have been using a number of hand block print techniques across India, leaving a sweet impression on the fashion industry.
If you are a textile designer, or are pursuing a degree to learn everything about textile designing, then you must know about the following types of block printing prevailing in India.
Gujarat: Practiced and perpetuated by the Paithapur families in Gujarat, the Sodagiri prints make use of intricate blocks to print textiles through the mud resist-printing method. The Dhamadka village in Gujarat famously uses the technique known as Ajrakh, which is geometric and uses natural colors made from madder root, rusty iron solution, indigo, etc. Another famous block printing center is the Kutch region of Gujarat is known for its patterns in black and red designs of birds, animals, and dancing girls.
Rajasthan: Important centers in Rajasthan for block printing are Jaipur, Bangru, Sanganer, Pali and Barmer that use colour prints of birds, animals, human figures, gods and goddesses to design the fabrics. Sanganer is famous for its Calico prints wherein the outlines are printed first followed by the colour filling. Doo Rookhi printing is another renowned block printing technique, where the artists print on both sides of the cloth. Bagru, near Jaipur, is known worldwide for its Syahi-Begar prints (combination of black and yellow ochre or cream) and Dabu prints (in which a resist paste hides the portions of the dye, creating a stunning effect on fabrics). Barmer in Rajasthan designs red chilies with blue-black outlines on the fabrics that are surrounded by flower-laden trees.
Apart from these two main states, Punjab is known for its floral and geometrical designs in light and pastel colours. West Bengal’s Serampur is the center of block printing using bold and vibrant patterns. A combination of hand painting and block printing called Kalamkari that comes from Andhra Pradesh is also gaining popularity these days.
The textiles of Rajasthan represent a mixture of vibrant colors & royal ancestry. As the fabrics in this state are woven with intricate delicacy & extreme attention to detail, it is highly recommended across the world to buy these textiles from the locals of Rajasthan and not from any urban markets. So, without wasting any time, lets dive into the rich history of Rajasthani textiles.
Bandhani (Derived from the Sanskrit word bandh, which means to bind and tie) is a tie-dye fabric embellished by plucking of the cloth using fingernails. Colours specially used in Bandhani are yellow, red, blue, green & black. As it is a tie-dye process, only natural colors are used & a large variety of patterns can be created. Bandhani is also worn for symbolic purposes, red represents a Hindu bride & yellow represents maternity.
Fun Fact: The earliest examples of Bandhani work date back to 4000 BC.
Practiced exclusively in Rajasthan, Leheriya is a tie-dye technique which results in a glistening cloth with distinguishing patterns. Done on thin cotton or silk cloth, the lengths of Leheriya are usually appropriate for sarees & turbans. Usage of Indigo is prominent for coloring Leheriya, giving a dazzling look to the fabric.
Fun Fact: Turbans of Leheriya cloth were a popular male fashion choice in the 19th & 20th century.
Named after the town they are popularly produced in, Bagru cloth is created by natural dyeing & using an interesting hand block printing method practiced exclusively by the Chippa community. Known for its zigzag patterns, bagru printing is done using vegetable & Indigo colours.
Fun Fact: Bagru Printing made its way into Rajasthan during the 17th century. The Chippa community immigrated to the desert state to get away from the social upheaval going on in Gujarat at the time.
The most famous cloth manufactured in the Kota region is the Kota Doria. Popular features of this textile are the checkered square designs & lightweight feel. Onion juice in addition to rice mush are applied during the weaving process of this garment, ensuring the durability of the material.
Fun Fact: Back in the 17th century, Kota Doria sarees were known as Masuria Sarees as they were only woven in Mysore. A Mughal General by the name of Rao Kishore Singh brought these weavers into Kota and thus began the tradition of Kota Doria Sarees.
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