The Ancient Roots of Block Printed Textiles

Block Printed Textiles Cultural traditions Traditional Techniques

Throughout Rajasthani history the embellishment of both decorative and utilitarian items has been highly valued by people of all social classes. Homes, clothing, even domesticated animals are often adorned in geometric and botanically-inspired patterns in a joyous array of colors. Art and craft traditions of Rajasthan include hand-woven carpets, jewelry making, wood carving, leather work, metal work, stone carving, puppetry and pottery. 

Textile craft is an especially rich tradition of this region. Different areas throughout Rajasthan are known for their unique color preferences, design motifs and techniques. Block printing, batik, tie dye, mirror work, embroidery, and appliqué are techniques used to beautify the many objects of daily life. 

Block printing textiles in India.

Archaeological evidence suggests that block printing was produced in India as early as 3,000 BCE, making this the original home of textile printing in the world. Block printing traditions are found in many Indian states but Rajasthan is particularly appreciated for this art form.

Motifs are printed on cotton, silk, or jute in colorful patterns often derived from vegetable dyes. Traditionally, tamarind may be used to produce red, indigo to make a blue or violet color, and turmeric to create yellow and gold. Designs are carved onto teakwood blocks that are dipped into color poured into wooden trays. The blocks are then directly stamped onto prepared cloth to create innumerable designs.

Try your hand at making block printed fabric either with wooden stamps, hand carved from India or make your own designs. 

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