History of block printing in India
Wood block printing or Block printing is a process of printing different patterns on fabric. It is a simple, easy and sustainable process of printing as it needs manual labour. It is howerver capable of yielding such high artistic results, some of which are unobtainable by any other method.
In India, Block printing is a pride filled with culture and creativity. It is an old dyeing technique which has been perfected over the years. India is the largest manufacture and exporter of Block prints. It says a lot about our history and heritage.
The first history of Block prints go back to the time of Indus Valley civilization. The Harappan civilization onwards, export of good started. They used natural dyes, like for red dye or pigment they used the root of madder plant.
Block printing was first spotted in 12th century. It was introduced by the old Chippa Community located in Bagru district of Rajashthan. The traditional art of Block Printing is practiced in Rajasthan for more than 500 years now. It was a royalty enjoyed by Kings and Queens. This art has been passed down for years through generations and this has evolved too.
The various printing forms which passed on were Bagru printing, Sanganeri printing, Kalamkari block printing, Ajrakh printing and Dabu printing. The two major block printing hubs being Sanganer and Bagru. Talking about block printing in Jaipur, it has a huge textile market which inclues Block printing, Quilts, Kurtis, Shirts, Bedsheets, Scarfs, etc. The Mughals made block printing more famous.
Block printing is a traditional art and has been followed for years. The designers who evolved from this have gained recognition for their work. Block printing is one of the most popular art form all over the world. The traditional block prints include various designs of small flowers, bootis, motifs,etc. The Mughals made designs like elephants, motifs and luxuriant flowers. Jaipur would manufacture handcrafted Quilts which were very famous.
Block printing needs a lot of time and patience as it is done manually. Wooden blocks are carved in the shape of required prints and dipped in natural or vegetable dyes and colours. It is then pressed on the cloth to print the fabric. After the whole process, the dye dries out. Then the fabric is washed and left to dry in the sun. It is a sustainable way of living.
Block printing needs a lot of artwork experience and knowledge about it. It is a culturally rich art form. This art form ensures sustainability too.