Bagru block printing is one of the block printing done in Rajasthan. Bagru is an ordinary village of Rajasthan its culture holds a heritage and tradition for over centuries known as the Bagru printing technique which, passes among them more than 450 years. Bagru chhipas came from Sawai Madhopur, Alwar, Jhunjhuna, and Sikkar districts of Rajasthan to settle in Bagru and make it their home outset around 450 years ago. They are known for their unique designs of working and printing on fabrics. A museum in Ahmedabad put three years of research on these in the 1970s. Conventionally, Bagru prints are done on ghagra (skirts), odhnis (scarves), and pagris (turbans). Trends in Indian fashion promote synthetic clothes and western designs. This has made chhipas give up their labor-intensive process of printing with intricately carved wooden blocks. Natural dyes are used for bagru print. The main patterns carved on the blocks are Patashi with its tiny floral designs of buds, leaves, and stems, Jhad has intervening tendrils and distinctive borderlines, and Hati-the elephant.
General color combinations used for Bagru printing are Cream, Maroon and Black, Black and white, Blue (indigo), and white. The source materials for natural dyes are not only plentiful but also harmless and non-pollutant. The water from these dye baths is usually recycled to irrigate the vegetable garden of peas, wheat, and other green vegetables and grains.
The Making of Bagru
Artisans make wooden blocks by carving timber wood and use traditional tools; compass, saw, routers, rulers, chisels, and wooden mallet. Every piece usually requires a set of different blocks, including an outline, a background, and a filler.
The process begins with a raw, grey cotton cloth which is either hand-woven or mill-made. Firstly it bleached to make it softer and more absorbent. The swelling of fibers and opening of the pores ensures that the dyes will be colorfast and bright. After this, the fabric is given a primary creamish- yellow color by applying HARDA SOLUTION. This solution is a solution of harda powder. Then, the fabric is exposed to the sun.
First, the dyestuff is mixed in a tray, then a bamboo frame is fixed inside the tray. After this, the woolen cloth is placed on top of it. The dye solution is being prepared by mixing the color into the Binder and is then, poured into the tray where it is soaked by the woolen cloth. After these preparations, the printing of the fabric starts. There are two main types of printing used commonly in Bagru: direct dye printing and resisting printing. In both procedures, the blocks are soaked overnight in mustard oil or refined oil and then washed. Printing is done on a wooden table, the size of which depends on the length of to be printed. Tables with a layer of ply on which there are 20 layers of tart and a sheet of cloth on which comes the final fabric.
Once the cloth is printed, it is dried in the sun and finally ready for dyeing. The cloth is dyed in a hot dye bath in a copper vessel. For the hot dye, the copper vessel is filled up with various combinations of Alizarin (a red dye traditionally made from madder root) mixed with flowers and other vegetable and mineral dyestuffs and fixations. Once the printing and dyeing are complete, the cloth is again hand washed and sun-dried. This completes the whole process of block printing. This beautifully hand-printed fabric speaks about the culture through which they have developed. Artisans make each print with care and precision.