In our previous blog post, we explored the intimacies of the Sanganeri prints. In the Bagru episode, we romance with the Bagru prints of Rajasthan. Interestingly the craft of hand printing is practised in several areas of Rajasthan and each has a distinctive style of its own. The styles are impacted and influenced by the historical, cultural and geographical features of their region of origin. The beauty of this style of printing is heavily reliant on water sources owing to which the commercial activity sprung near water sources like – Sanganer, Bagru, Akola, Barmer, Jodhpur etc. The most characteristic and prominent out of these being Sanganer and Bagru.
Bagru is the place of the Raiger and chhipa community. Known for its natural dyes and hand block printing, it is a city and a municipality in Jaipur district tehsil Sanganer in the state of Rajasthan. The Chhipa community is known to have been involved in this tradition of printing since 100 years. Located at a distance of 32 km from Jaipur on Jaipur-Ajmer road, the Chhipa artisans have acquired their skills by watching and learning through daily routine and without any formal training. The entire process is manually done, from printing to dyeing, by family members at home.
There is a Chhipa Mohalla (printer’s quarter) an area especially for those interested in textile printing. If one walks into one such quarter then one will always find people engrossed with dyes and blocks. The Bagru artisans as a technique smear the cloth with Fuller’s earth collected from the riverside and dip it in turmeric water to get the habitual cream colour background. After that, they stamp the cloth with beautiful designs using natural dyes of earthly shades.
The Bagru artisans use traditional vegetable dyes for printing the cloth. For instance, Indigo is used for the colour blue, indigo mixed with pomegranate for green, madder root for red and turmeric for yellow. Post the Persian influence there was a shift from floral designs to more geometric patterns in Bagru prints. The most prominent patterns include motifs of flowers and birds, intertwined tendrils, trellis designs, figurative designs and geometric designs like waves, checks and triangles.
What sets the Sanganeri and Bagru style of block printing apart from each other is that the Sanganer print is usually done on a white background while the Bagru prints are done on an indigo coloured or dyed background. The magic, however, lies in the water used in these printing styles. The water has its own different effect on both the styles. In the case of the Sanganeri printing, the water adds a rich dark tone to the colour whereas, in Bagru, one finds a reddish tinge.
The saga of Jaipuri imprints is incomplete without the mention of the Sanganeri and Bagru style of block printing. Their appeal is not just limited to the Indian markets but is highly sought after in the international markets too. Both these styles of block printing despite being related are unique in their own ways and are nothing short of amazing.