India has been the hub of the world’s greatest handloom industry forages creating beautifully designed artistic fabrics that have been used for making garments, wall hangings, scarves, bed sheets, bedcovers, and many more such items. The colorful design with its individual styles and patterns make it precious and sort-after around the world.
One of the techniques among all the other handloom techniques is Block Printing.The Indian traditional printing method of using wooden blocks to create art on fabric, including bed sheets and bedcovers, is one of the oldest techniques still practiced today in various villages and towns of India. It’s been part of the handloom industry since the time of the Indus Valley Civilization and has been passed down generation after generation with all its essence and purity.
The art of the Bagru hand block printing technique has been used to create intricate designs and patterns on bedsheets, bedcovers, or bedspreads, which are now easily available online (thanks to technology) as well as offline (shops/stores).
The Initiation of Bagru Block Printing
It's said that the art of Block Printing originated in China more than 4500 years ago; however, it reached its pinnacle and received worldwide recognition in India. There are several methods of block printing practiced in India for centuries, among which the Bagru Block Printing is more than 100 years old. Bagru is a place in Rajasthan, near Jaipur, where the “Chhipa” community people have been involved in the age-old tradition of Block Printing, thus, the name, Bagru Block Printing.
Bagru hand Block Printing Technique
The special technique that’s used to create these beautiful mesmerizing designs is known as the Dabu or Daboo Block Printing Technique, which uses the method of mud resist-printing.In this technique, the fabric is first washed thoroughly and then soaked for a whole day to ensure there are no residual impurities like oil or stains, after which its then dyed in a “harda," a solution made out of the fruit Myrobalan’s extract giving a yellow tinge to the material. Once the fabric is dried out, it’s ready for the final step of dyeing with unique designs, patterns, and styles.
The fabrics are then spread out on a rectangular table where the artisans use various carved wooden blocks to paint them with unique designs and colors as chosen.There are three categories of blocks that are used to complete the design, which are“gudh," "rekh," and “datta." The block that is known as “gudh” is used to create the background, whereas the “rekh” is used to create the outline, and the “datta” is used to complete the final design by filling up the gaps. It’s only after three days of the completion of the paintwork the fabrics are washed,and not a day before.
The process used to create these beautifully designed fabrics can be used on bedsheets, bed covers, and bedspreads, giving individuality to your bedroom, making it bright and colorful.
Block Printing Color, Design, and Pattern on Bed Sheets
The scorching hot weather combined with its excellent clay soil in the Bagru area of Rajasthan has provided the perfect environment for producing such extraordinary prints and colors. The specialty of block printing is in its usage of colors that are naturally obtained from plants, vegetables, cow dung, limestone, jaggery, alum, acacia gum, black clay, spoiled wheat flour, etc.
Pomegranate peel is used to get the color green, yellow is obtained from the annatto seeds, red from sevalkuddi, and brown is obtained by mixing water with red kashish whereas, black is obtained after a horseshoe is fermented in a mixture of water and sugarcane after it is kept on coal for a certain period of time. All the colors used for the Block printing are home-made and is time consuming. The shades of the colors depend greatly on the conditions of the weather, water, sun, and the quality of the crop. The Bagru Block Printed fabrics are either of cream-color or dye-based.
· Design and Pattern
Other than the color being its unique specialty, the designs and patterns also play a major role in helping differentiate Bagru Block Print from all other Block Prints available in India. The Bagru Block Printing designs include not only natural designs like flora and faunadesigns but also geometric shapes like checks, waves, triangles, and interwoven net-like patterns, respectively, known as “chaupad," "leher," “kangura," and “jaali."
These designs look amazing on bed sheets and bedspreads, which are easily available in the market within a reasonable price range that’s affordable.
Importance of the Block Printing
It’s a form of art that’s been passed on from one generation to the other for centuries, maintaining its original essence and nature. It’s a symbol of heritage, love, and dedication, which one has achieved with practice and patience over time.
Using natural color provides a sustained environment causing no harm to nature. This provides sustainability and ecological balance while providing lively hood to a class of workers who have chosen art over mass production. The creation of these beautifully designed fabrics are time consuming, requiring a lot of hard work and skill, which isn't easily achieved. Thus, it's essential that we not only recognize the hard work and skill but also appreciate itspositive contribution by choosing to purchase these items, which include artistically designed, colorful bed sheets along with various other products.
As each bedsheet, bed cover, or bedspread is handcrafted; each one is unique. There is a minimum possibility of repetition in designs and patterns due to the factor of it being handcrafted. The little imperfection in the patters and deigns on theses bedsheets and bed covers provide proof of it being made by humans, which adds a feeling of love to the products in comparison to the factory-made products that feel impersonal.
Block Printing was a dying art that's been revived with digitalization and global awareness so let's do our part to maintain its progress towards commercialization by purchasing these wonderfully designed naturally coloured bed sheets which are available online as well as offline!