Hand Block Printing - colourful courtyards and a little bit of history


As we manoeuvre through the narrow compounds of Bagru, a sleepy little village nestled amongst sparse sandy dunes (30kms from the bustling capital city of Jaipur, Rajasthan) it’s a quiet afternoon with not many in sight. In the stillness of the heat all we hear are fluttering textiles (in colourful courtyards strewn with hues of azure and honey) interspersed with definitive ‘thumps’ as a master printer works judiciously on a textile somewhere close by – the motifs becoming part of that textile’s creative destiny!

Hand block printing is a traditional art practiced in Rajasthan that has been around forever (dating back to 12th century, archaeological evidence even suggesting that it existed as far back as 3000BCE).

Interestingly, block printing has always thrived by melding itself into cultures, the resplendence of its designs and motifs testament to its rich history and subsequent revitalisation.

Block printing was introduced to Jaipur (where it was a celebrated art-form quite loved by royalty) when ‘Chippa’ families started relocating close to it (in areas with easy access to running water).

Originally located in Bagru (that is now world renowned for its natural and vegetable dyes including the exotic mud resist or ‘dabu’ block prints) the art eventually tapered out to surrounding regions such as Sanganer (a community settled in the south of Jaipur).

Today, hand block printing is still at the core of both these villages. The art passed down generations with ‘recipes’ for traditional plant-based dyes developed within families and kept thriving for hundreds of years.

While Bagru is famous for its natural and vegetable dyes (chemical-free), more recently forms of block printing, such as those practiced in Sanganer have boasted vibrant colors mixed using AZO free pigment dyes. The result - bold hues propelling creativity several notches up.

Textiles, decor, home wares (to even gift-wrapping), everyone has their 'hands' on hand block prints today! The art has once again infused into our everyday life and fast garnering global appeal and becoming a lifestyle or rather a ‘life-choice’ brand given its minimal carbon footprint.

Today it embodies the aesthetic of the individual that wears it. Every textile tells its own story, each piece as unique as the ‘thump’ that creates it.  

Stay tuned for more on the uniqueness of hand blocks that create your favourite Motifs by Mamta textile.