Nestled in the grainy embrace of the flamboyant Rajasthan, Jaipur city basks in the glory of the sun and the warmth of its rosy blush. The city wakes up to the splendour of its majestic past and is always abuzz with life and activity. A casual stroll through the bustling streets of a typical Jaipuri bazaar market) is like flicking through the myriad scenes of a kaleidoscope.
Amidst this colourful chaos, the city also houses a unique blend of royal elegance and cultural richness. Many traditional crafts have flourished in this region under royal patronages and are enjoying immense popularity even to this day. One such widely known and admired craft is that of hand block printing.
A small but prosperous village, Sanganer has emerged as a hub for the age-old craft of hand block printing. Located almost 30 km from the walled city of Jaipur this village is known to house more than 5000 block printers. In the local parlance, the block makers or carpenters specializing in block making are called Bhatt-ghar. Where Bhatt implies block and ghar implies carver.
The material used is both local and imported, but lately mulmul (cotton voile), latha (sheeting fabrics) and cambric have gained popularity and are being sourced from Jaipur. In calico-printing, bold patterns and colours are predominant and the outlines are first printed post which the colour is filled.
Doo Rakhi printing is also famous here which involves printing on both sides of the cloth. Bright colours, delicate lines usually printed against a white background married to the techniques used for printing is what makes the Sanganeri prints strikingly different from other prints.
The finesse of the Sanganeri floral imprints that adorn the fabrics have a characteristic appeal to them. The delicacy of the details and precision with which the printing is done are reflective of the expertise of its artisans. Typically a Sanganeri motif is a combination of beautiful floral designs including a blend of flowers, buds and leaves or other forms like a keri (mango), pan (betel leaf), katar (dagger), or jhumka (ear-ring).
The borders of the fabric would typically consist of duplicated bands of undulated twines or bels of various sizes. While the body is covered with repeated designs varying from small geometrical shapes to large and complex buta or kalga. The bouquet of designs consists of flowers varying from the small and stylized sunflowers, roses, narcissuses, lotuses, lilies to the more luxurious and exotic ones like the rudraksha, arkas and daturas. Various other flowers that are used in the patterns are sosan, champa, gainda, gulmehendi, javakusum, kachnar, kaner, jatadari lily, guldaudi and kanna to name a few.
Not just flowers but fruits, in some old prints figures of parrots, fish, elephant, horse, camel, peacock and human figures can also be seen. These, however, are more visible on fabrics for curtains, bed covers and table cloths etc. Traditionally Sanganer is known for producing these fine block printed textiles on off-white or pastel backgrounds but in the present scenario, both dark and pale backgrounds are being produced and have gained popularity.
The blocks used for the printing are mostly made of teak or seesum and the dyes are printed on the fabric with a relief covered block i.e. a different block for each colour, measuring usually 23-30 cm square in size. This was just about the intimacies of the Sanganeri Affair, wait for what unfolds in the Bagru episode.