Hand block printing in India is at its excellence and proves out to be the best exporters in the world. The practice dates back to the ancient times and was cherish by both the royal and the local people. The craft is practised in various parts of the country, varying in some form or another.
A simple technique of printing on fabric using wood carved or metal blocks was traditionally done on just cotton fabric. Now with modern requirements it has shifted to other fabrics like silk and tussar. It require precise skill practise to place every motif in the required area. The artisans of the craft are experts in analysing how much colour content they need on the block for it to be printed with fine quality.
This is one more craft which is very sustainable for the urban environment. The process does not require any toxic materials. The colours used are vegetable dyes which make the fabric more exclusive and skin friendly. Very intricate patterns can be printed using this method and there is no colour limitation as such. This technique has proved itself to be one of the most efficient one other than screen printing.
Some very prominent hand block printing varitions from the different corners of the country are discussed below.
Hand block printing of Gujarat- Ajrakh
The Ajrak resist-printing technique is found in Anjar and Dhamadka in Kutch. The painted Ajrak cloth has colours – blue, red, black and white, in several patterns. The printed red and block odhnis of Anjar carry motifs similar to those found on old pottery and stone carvings
Bagru Hand block printing- Dabu
The block print in Bagru is done mainly in beige, red and black. Shades of blue with much use of indigo blue dyeing processes is a characteristic of this centre. Bagru is also famous for its mud resist process Dabu and direct printing. The motifs are simple and include floral and linear patterns
Sanganeri prints- Hand block printing in Sanganer, Rajasthan
Sanganer, near Jaipur, is famous for its fine hand block printing in subdued colors. Hand block printing was patronised by the royal family. Sceen printing is also largely done here. Saganer has become a export hub for hand block print export. The Sanganeri Print is visible from small flower motifs like stylised sunflowers, narcissuses, roses, and other flowers of luxuriant foliage like daturas, rudrakshas, and arkas
Aloka printing- Javad, Madhya Pradesh
Javad prints in Indigo and Alizarine are mostly used. In the wax resist process done here the wax is applied using he block which is carved upto 10 cm in depth which can carry enough wax solution for no of imprints. Amba Butti aor the mango motif is fmous here. A very fine print known as Akola print where metal blocks designed with nails are used. is also prtaised in the area near javad. Akola is also famous for its discharge printing as well.
Double side printing- Balotra, Rajasthan
The traditional block-printing running in parallel lines technique of Ajrakh has attained a peak of excellence at Balotra. Although a desert climate but good water is one of the main reasons which imparts good colors which is so important for hand-block printing. The speciality of the block printing of Balotra is that it is done on both sides of the cloth. This is very diffult technique because there should not be any imbalance in the design-transfer from the block to the cloth. The reverse side hand block printing is done simultenously even when the other side of the design print is wet. The hand-block printed fabric from Balotra is therefore very exclusive and relatively expensive.
Hand block printing Nagur
The main tribal group here and at Kishangarh are the Banjaras. Costumes are printed here along with jajams and spreads. The spreads are usually in red and yellow, with the design motifs being scorpions, centipedes or chaupars. Red and yellow are also used for jajams. The prints on these include the chowki, singhara or mirchi (chilli) designs with motifs of creepers, kanwal or ladders along the borders.
Reja cloth is used for making floor spreads or padharnas. The motifs used are those of the elephant, cheeta, chaupar and soldiers, among others. Mill-made long cloth or pharad is also used along with fine cloth like cambric. Printing is also done on muslins and silks. Good printing is not obtained on fine cloth and is also visible on the reverse side. However intricate designs can be printed only on fine cloth, and not on coarse fabric. In traditional printing, animal motifs are not printed on cloth meant for costumes. Chemical colours and new printing methods and techniques are found in the hand-printing craft in modern times.
The variations in the same technique, evolves out to be more interesting as we get in the depth of the process. The printing sector is huge and a lot of brands are using it as their major source of fabric. It is very well appreciated by the consumers who are aware of Indian culture and also the difference hand done exclusivity.
Peeli Dori’s attempt to help the craft flourish as one of the most beautiful flowers in the garden of Indian crafts is on its way.