In our last blog for Block printing, we have come to terms with what exactly is this technique about and we have also studied its history and Importance. Now here we will cover up this practice as an important souvenir from Jaipur – the city of Royals.
In a small corner of northern India, generation after generation of families is keeping the art of Rajasthani block printing alive. Their main focus is on creating handmade, ethical designs with Indian artisans.
Once the customers or guests get their heads around what’s involved – the intricacy, the skill, the handiwork of each design – they see these designs anew and afresh on every creation.
If you visit the village of Bagru you will see how tradition and modernity are merging to maintain this centuries-old craft alive and attractive day by day. There is a place called Chhipa ka Mohalla, where the largest community of printing this handcraft is associated. The literal translation of ‘chhipa’ is ‘to print’. And here in the village of Bagru, the specialty is exquisite block-printed textiles, a craft that’s been passed down from generation to generation since the Mughal Empire. Therefore, Block printing is a traditional Indian textile art that is still dominant today. The art is not restricted to textiles and is used in the production and design of wallpaper, decorative items, and bedding.
For centuries, the most commonly used fabric for textile block printing has been cotton, followed by jute and silk. The aesthetics of block printing owe much to the skills of the woodblock carvers and textile printers. Meticulous accuracy and exceptional teamwork and patience are vital in block printing to harmonize motifs and colors in the final creation. For example, even with twenty printers the painstaking process for a single hand printed garment can take eight hours to complete, though the result is exceptional and one of a kind.
Vibrant colors such as blue, yellow, red and saffron are frequently used in block printing. However, the choice of colors that are available is endless. There is a diversity of designs originating in different parts of India, ranging from traditional figurative designs of animals, Gods, and flora to contemporary graphic geometrical designs to name just a few. You may take a tour of this city and learn more about the art and questions related to it with City On Pedals Jaipur Heritage Walking Tour.
Hand-block printing techniques have changed little over the millennia – traded across India, Arabia and the Far East – traditionally organic dyes were used to imprint wood carved patterns onto natural fabrics – madder root for red, rusty iron solution for black and indigo for blue – a process that is still followed today in traditional hand-block printing studios. The journey also reveals the many changes that have taken place and the adaptations that have been made to the craft to enable it to remain relevant.
In addition to the aforementioned change in the production techniques, consumer preferences have also seen a paradigm shift, due to changes in lifestyles, an increase in the level of education, industrial revolution and the resultant job opportunities and increase in income, amongst others. A major reason, which contributed to the change in consumer preference, is the migration of communities, which wore traditional designs, to bigger towns or cities. This has lead to a change in their dressing habits and a decline in demand for traditional crafts, as a result of which, traditional markets (haats) began to die. Although the Government undertook many initiatives to revive these Haats and promote them in big cities, the artisans and their craft found limited uptake by townsfolk.
Thus, to further help the industry, the government began workshops, training programs, and design projects to upgrade the skill levels of the artisans. Presently, many such programs are being run on a regular basis, which has enabled the artisans to take their crafts to an international level and access the lucrative international markets.
A new company was formed under the name of Jaipur Integrated Texcraft Park Private Limited (JITPPL) now known by the Brand name of Jaipur Bloc. Most of the members of COTEX became shareholders of JITPPL and land was bought under the Promotional Scheme of SITP of Government of India to create a Block Printers Hub. JITPPL is designed as an eco-friendly textile park, with a wide variety of infrastructural facilities for effluent & sewage treatment, rainwater harvesting, water recycling and conservation, and energy conservation.
The park is located at Bagru, near Jaipur, which is known all over the world for its traditional textiles, various styles of hand block printing and related skills. This is the first park in India to cater to the niche segment of hand block printing; renowned worldwide, and equipped with state of the art technology to conserve and preserve water.
However, despite many changes, the textile printing industry has survived the turn of many centuries and remains one of the most unique Indian crafts. Take a Tour to the city of the Royals and see the growth and technique of the craft yourself.