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The legacy of block printing


block print

The art of block-printing originally hailed from Rajasthan where cotton was dyed and printed in order to build tents. However, soon the printed fabrics grew in popularity so they played a necessary role in all royal ceremonies. The creative process of weaving, spinning, dyeing and printing fabrics was largely influenced by seasons and local festivals. One of the earliest examples considered of block printing was the copy of the Diamond Sutra from 868 A.D.  Soon, printed cotton cloths were exported from India to countries such as Indonesia, Malaya and the Far East. In the seventeenth century, Surat was established as one of the main centers for the export of painted and printed calicos. Ahmedabad was well known for its variety of cheap, printed cloth.

Centers of Block Printing in India

ajrakhBlock Printing in RajasthanGujrat: this form of hand-printing is practiced and followed by members of the Paithapur family. They practice the art by making intricate blocks, and print textiles on it using the resist-printing method. These prints are known as Sodagiri. A village in Gujrat called Dhamadka is well known for creating a block-printed fabric called Ajrakh, which consists of a geometric design and the artisans use natural colors such as red from the madder root, black from a rusty iron solution and blue from the indigo.  Another village called Kutch, is well known for its designs such as black and red designs of birds, animals and dancing girls.

Block Printing in Rajasthan

JaipurBarmer is considered famous for its prints of red-chillis with blue-black outlines, surrounded by flower-laden trees. It also provides other prints such as horses, camels, peacocks and lions, which are known as Sikar and Shekahwat prints.This city is well known for using creative designs such as colorful prints of birds, animals, human figures, gods and goddesses. The most important centers of block printing are Jaipur, Bangru, Sanganer, Pali and Barmer. Saganer is famous for using calico printing, in which the outlines are first printed and then the colors are filled in. the designs are printed in diagonal rows.  Bagru is well-known for its Syahi-Begar and Dabu prints. The former consists of designs in a combination of black and yellow. Whereas the latter consists of prints in which portions are hidden from the dye by applying a resist paste.

Block Printing in Punjab

Although it is not as well acclaimed as cities such as Rajasthan and Gujrat, but the fabric produced is still considered worthy. The art was carried on by a group of textile workers called Chhimba, whose designs consist of floral and geometrical patterns.

around India 

Process of block printing:

The first step in crafting a block printing is creating a production of the original document. A design is laid in reserved position on a smooth, large wooden block. Next, craftsmen with various skill levels, ranging from master carvers to less talented artisans, carve the original design on the block of wood. Then, the block of wood is covered with ink and used in a press to create duplicates of the original.


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