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Jaipur – History of Block Printing
Records show that as far back as the 12th century, several centers in the south, on the western and eastern coasts of India became renowned for their excellent printed cotton. On the southeastern coast the brush or kalam (pen) was used, and the resist applied by the same method. In the medieval age printing and dyeing of cottons was specially developed in Rajasthan. In Gujarat the use of wooden blocks for printing was more common. Tents were made from printed fabrics and soon they became necessary part of royal processions. The seasons largely influenced the integration of the highly creative processes of weaving, spinning, dyeing and printing.
Festivals also dictated this activity. Block printing is a special form of printing first developed in China. The earliest known example with an actual date is a copy of the Diamond Sutra from 868 A.D (currently in the British Museum), though the practice of block printing is probably about two thousand years old Trade in cotton cloth is said to have existed between India and Babylon from Buddha’s time. Printed and woven cloths traveled to Indonesia, Malaya and the Far East. In the 17th century, Surat was established as a prominent center for export of painted and printed calicos, covering an extensive range in quality. Cheaper printed cloth came from Ahmedabad and other centers, and strangely enough Sanganer was not such a famous center for printing as it is today.
Today India has many major printing centres with their own block making skills and history. Wood blocks are largely used for printing fabrics for costumes, floor coverings, bedspreads and sometimes even wall hangings or prayer rugs. Blocks are also used to transfer designs, which were used by the embroiderer as a guideline for embroidery; for example in – Chikankaari of Lucknow, Kashmiri shawls and Pheran; embroidered yolks in Rajasthan and Gujarat.9 Another technique where blocks are used to print the basic design before the real work started was tie and dye or baandhani from Kutch.
Next week we will be exploring the Textile Printing Techniques of Jaipur.
If you are interested in joining us on a trip to Jaipur, then please visit our website and reserve your place. We have spaces left on our trip in December this year plus all of our trips in 2018. Pick the time and itinerary that suits you and we look forward to seeing you.
Kim Thittichai joined us on our trip to Jaipur in January this year and she has very kindly put pen to paper (or is that finger to keyboard), to write up this lovely four part blog on her experiences on the trip. We will be featuring a new part every week, so please click on the image below, sit back and read what it is like to be on a Colouricious trip to Jaipur.
Learn, Create, Be Happy!