Printing on fabrics is no new thing in our country rich of cultures and traditions. Printing on fabrics have been something recognized all over the globe and India has never lagged, untouched from this type of elegant craftsmanship.
In India, each design and pattern is a representation of local culture and tradition. While the rest of the world has shifted to modern ways, crafters in India still follow their traditional practices to add beauty to fabrics. There are a rich variety of printed fabrics in our country, just like our rich variety of cultures and traditions -: traditional block printing, shibori printing, bagh printing, bagru printing and ajrakh printing.
Hand Block printing has been a well recognized art since generations in different clusters in our country. Each cluster follows its own style and methods and uses the locally available materials which has their own set of specialties, and which never fails to give that touch of beauty and elegance to the fabrics.
Bagru Printing is one of those old age traditional printing style which still prevails in the country, catches our attention, and never fail to leave us in awe.
Bagru printing is an amazing type of hand block printing. In this kind of printing, the desired pattern is engraved on the wooden block initially, and then the carved wooden block is used to replicate the design over the desired choice of fabric, and tada! Here we are with the most beautiful piece of art over fabric, and I personally like to wear the bagru print clothing, they look absolutely elegant, and I never regret walking out wearing those, ever!
THE ORIGINATION OF BAGRU :
As far as I know, there lie no authentic records to justify the beginning of this unique style of art, but it is said to have begun 450 years back.
When a community of Chippas (literal meaning, those who stamp and print) visited Bagru from Sawai Madhopur, Alwar and various other locations and settled there, the bagru printing art form was introduced.
Chippas are known for their unique designs of luxuriant trellises in sophisticated natural colours. This community has never stopped till date and through consistent efforts and unity, they work in a place recognized as Chippa Maholla by Sanjaria riverside. I always walk in there only to find people engrossed in their work with dyes and blocks.
The bank of river provided them with the most essential ingredient – The clay, which is important in getting the base colour of the famed Bagru prints. Having seen this beautiful fabric made before my eyes, I was intimidated. The artisans smear the cloth in fuller’s earth from by the river side, dip it in the turmeric water to get the cream shades for the background and then decorate them by stamping them with the desired styles and patterns using natural dyes of earthly shades. Isn’t it really amazing?
Even after all the modern dyes being available, the artisans use natural vegetable dyes for printing the cloth.
- Indigo is for the making of colour blue.
- Indigo mixed with pomegranate gives us the greens.
- The royal red is obtained from madder root and the calming shade of yellow from turmeric.
- I am absolutely amazed by this traditional practice, the simplicity and ethnicity of it all is remarkable.
TRANSITION OF BAGRU :
With time, everyone needs to advance their ways and find the one that suits the current market and scenarios and that is what happened with bagru fabrics and the artisans making them. Transition did occur.
In the earlier days, the artisans sat on floor and worked over low tables, while now, they stand and work on six feet fall tables. Earlier and followed the same routine of patterns, while now they are open to experimenting, they are now compatible doing layouts, using various textured fabrics to print on while simultaneously playing with new colours and different patterns.
Even the printing techniques have experienced aesthetic changes, Chippas incorporate spirals, circles diagonals in various patterns laid out on larger wider pieces of finer cotton.
Conventionally, bagru fabrics were only used in making of “ghaghras” , “odhnis” and even “pagris” (skirts, scarves, and turbans, respectively). Today , the bagru fabrics are are just limited to that, but has also entered into apparels, accessories and home furnishings.
The Bagru village hums with much activity today, it’s one of the most creative village I ever visited. It supplies this exquisite, printed material for trade, because everyone should indeed know of such creative piece of fabric. Buses and jeeps move in and out of the villages carrying bundles of bagru fabrics. As the world is waking up to environmental consciousness and eco-friendliness, this captivating and exotic art is getting recognized day by day.