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Dabu print or Daboo printing is an old mud-resist technique using hand-made blocks in Rajasthan. This ancient art-craft almost became stand-still during last century and it got slowly replenished and running well these days. It involves a lot of labor and many phases of printing and dyeing. In the end one gets a beautiful fabric printing using Dabu technique and is widely recognized around the world. This method of printing is predominantly seen on Indo-Western clothes and household decorative things. The designs used reveal the creativity of the artisans.
This hand block technique of printing got its roots from China. Mud-resisting technique of printing dates back to around 675 A.D. in Rajasthan. Its origin hails back from the Akola Village in the Chittorgarh region of Rajasthan. Sanganeri and Bagru are the other two hand block techniques like Daboo, but they are distinctive in features. The designs look like “Batik” but the techniques employed are totally different.
Dabu printing technique involves many laborers and different stages of washing, printing and dyeing. The fabric is washed well to remove any impurities, if any. The designs are then carefully printed on to the fabric using hand-made blocks pressed in to the dyes. Next step is important where the mud-paste is spread over different areas of the fabric where one does not want the dye to get printed. Mud-paste is usually a combination of gum, waste wheat, lime and mud. Sawdust is sprinkled on the mud-paste to dry it.
The usual motifs like peacocks, leaves, cornstalks (boota), sunflower, mangoes and various other animals and birds figure were used.
Daboo printing is used to create a different beautiful models and designs. Motifs and colours of different varieties are used. Geometrical shapes can also be used. So the design patterns get repeated again and again on the entire fabric giving it a uniform look. Sometimes mishaps happen during this production like leakage in mud-paste due to cracks but that also gives a unique design to the art which can be fusioned to create a distinctive designs.
Various garments like shirts, sarees, salwar kameez, kurtas, towels, shawls, linens, bed sheets and curtains are printed using Dabu design and quite commonly put on sale. In ancient days, they were used mostly to decorate only sarees made of high-quality cotton fabrics like Maheshwari cotton. Silk and georgette fabrics are also used nowadays.
Washing the Dabu printed fabrics with hands first is an ideal choice to check reaction of colors. Later in can be machine washed. Colors made of natural dye usually don’t fade easily and come for a long time. Normal air drying is good for the fabric.
This art-craft has been passed on from generation to generation in the Akola village and exact secret of technique of mud-resist printing has been strictly followed to give immense results. This has become a source of livelihood to the villagers there. Westerners are hugely attracted towards this ancient ethnic art-craft used on clothes and they tend to buy it often whenever they tour these places.