Bagru Hand Block Print

Rajesh Kumar
Bagru Hand Block Print

The block printing craft of Bagru is unique and has its own distinct character. Bagru was historically recognized as producing more upscale products for royal clientele and for use in temples. The Print designs and colour are such that these are ideal for rural folk. The design and colours of Bagru prints have been greatly improved and diversified to meet the requirement of the designers and export market. The Production requires high degree of coordination of eyes, hands and allied pressure on the blocks. The main tools of the printer are wooden blocks in different shapes - square, rectangle, oval, round and semicircular or crescent - and sizes called bunta. Blocks are hand-carved of seasoned teak wood and on the bottom face the motifs are engraved with steel chisels of different widths and cutting surface by the carver. Each block has a wooden handle and two to three cylindrical holes drilled into the block for free air passage and also to allow release of excess printing paste. The new blocks are soaked in oil for 10-15 days to soften the grains in the timber. These blocks sometimes have metal over the wood.

Bagru is one of the famous centres of hand block printing in Rajasthan located 32 km west from Jaipur. The Chhipa community is famous for this artisan work of block printing. Its soil and climate provide a perfect blend for this exclusive style of printing. Dabu printing is famous in Bagru in which clay, gum, ruined wheat, limestone and cow pies are mixed together and printed on the fabric. Thereafter fabric then can be dyed and left for drying under the sunlight. Now day’s synthetic dyes are introduced for various color combinations but still village has the practice to use the natural color. Indigo, pomegranate, harda are used to obtain the natural colors. Chhipa moholla is considered as the hub of hand block printing in Bagru where one can be able to see various colors of fabric hung on terraces.

It is believed that this form of art was introduced 450 years back by Chhipa community who were settled in the banks of river Sanjariya which provides the most important ingredient “clay” for this printing. The fabric is then soaked in Fuller’s earth and then dipped into turmeric water to get a tone of yellow color. Then the dyed fabric is stamped with the beautiful designs known as blocks. The base color of the fabric is usually the dull shades such as white, cream and beige and natural color such as red, black and maroon are used for printing. Black color can be obtained naturally from iron horse shoe smeared in water, red can be obtained from alum and maroon is a mixture of black and red. Apart from this natural vegetable dyes are also prominent and saffron is also used to create a special print of hand block printing in Bagru. Even you can also check out the different types of block printing in India.

Hand Block Printing Process

  • It’s a labor intensive process which require lot of skillfulness, time and tolerance power of artisan.
  • The wooden blocks of teak-wood are used for printing the design which are soaked in oil overnight and then washed before put to use.
  • These collections of block are considered to be the wealth of Chhipa’s that they have collected over a period of time.
  • The cloth to be printed is soaked in the solution of clay and other chemicals to make the fabric soften and then dried before used for printing.
  • Neat stamping is foremost to get the appealing prints.
  • After printing, cloth is left for drying in sun for final touch-up.
  • Different types of motifs used in Bagru printing are Aath Kaliya, Chopad, and Kamal.

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