Aserene lake. A modest village. A few pieces of wood. A dash of color. Some imprints. Certain patterns. A work of art. That is the story of hand block printing. Figurative motifs expressive of a spirited animation. Taking shape on fabrics spread like canvases of the printers or cheepas of Bhairongarh and Bagh. The natural dyes adding to the pristine and joyous charm of the pattern. Such is the charm of the textiles that arises Malwa and Nimar.
The blocks that put a signature of beauty and aesthatics on the cloth are highly stylised motifs evolved over hundred of years. The prints have a tonal and three dimentional effect that is impossible replicant in screen printing. The printers generally dwell near a lake, which has a high copper content that imparts an inexplicable richness to their colors. Colors that give the cloth a rich and yet subtle effect. So there is a vibrant yellow, from turmeric roots, a joyous, spirited pink from pomegranate skin, the veritable indigo from none other than indigo. And to make sure that the colors penetrate fully into the fabric, the cloth is rubbed twice with arandi oil. And resin wax and oil applied through four inch deep carved teak wood blocks act as the resist, where required. This process carries sufficient wax for four deft impressions.
The buoyant hand block printed fabrics of Bhairongarh as quilts, jajams and odhnis have their own history to narrate. A history that saw the popularity of these fabrics across seas in pre independence days, before the east india company days these traditional fabrics a major item of export. The printed quilts also paved their way into the court of the great mughal emperor Akbar. Be it a hand block printed saree or even an intricately designed sheet or cushion cover, the aesthetic and trendy prints remain popular as ever, and fashionable as ever.
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