Alizarin, Madder, Parijaat, Natural Dye, Bagh Print, Ajrakh, Puru Print, Hand block print, Dabu

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Eco Printing: An art of printing leaves


History of natural dyes is very old, when there were no use of chemical dyes in practice, because human being was very close to nature and dependent on natural resources only. After industrial revolution and advent of synthetic dyes use of natural dyes started falling. Reasons behind use of chemical dye was easy to use and bright colors. 

Today when world is facing a problem of scarcity of water resources, contamination of existing water resources. In this problem situation use of chemical dyes contributing the most. It is not only contaminating the water resources but also hazardous for human skin and health. To address the solution to the problem we need to go back to the nature. 

Eco-dyed fabric by EcoFab

But very few people were engaged and still practicing the art of natural dyeing and continuing the tradition. Continuing the traditional art of natural dyeing one of the master dyer and designer from Australia India Flint innovated a craft of "Eco-dyeing" and "Eco Printing" using 100% natural dye ingredients to beautify fabric. 

Eco-Printing: A natural art of printing

Today eco printing is an art further developed and popularized by various master dyers and designers like India Flint, Irit and Omila Bir to name a few. Omila Bir a health professional is continuing this art as a passion and to express her creativity. 

Eco-printing requires a huge skill, arduous efforts and lots of practice to get the desired result. Eco printing is an art of printing leaves of various plants by wrapping it under the fabric and dye it with chosen natural dye to get the desired shade and leaf design on the fabric. It is completely a natural process to print and dye the fabric in a complete organic way. 

Ecoprinting on silk by Omila Bir

Most of the dyers are now started growing desired plants and trees to make it more sustainable, eco-friendly and responsible way of dyeing fabrics.

Eco printing is getting popular among eco-conscious customers in Europe and US very rapidly and slowly growing its attention in India too. 

Omila Bir is one of such artists who is popularizing this craft in India. She is working on contemporary and traditional clothing for Indian market. She is one of the first ecoprinter who has done ecoprinting on Indian traditional wearing such as Saree which requires an extra effort because other master ecoprinters can't print more than 3 to 4 meter fabric on contrary to which Omila is doing it on more than 6 meter fabric.

Ecoprint Kurti (Pic courtesy: Omila Bir)

Omila Bir recently collaborated with EcoFab to market her fabulous collection of Sarees, fabrics and stoles.

Stay tuned............

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Balotra handblock printing: Rajasthan’s Bounty

During my Ph.D. thesis work visited Balotra some two and a half years ago. A town 450 kilometers away from Jaipur in Rajasthan well connected with railway track.


Balotra is a town of Barmer district in Rajasthan now a days famous for its cotton and textile manufacturing industry was once famous for its unique style of hand block printing now known as balotra hand block printing. It was once an important center of hand block printing providing printed fabrics to different sections of the society. Mainly rabari, maldari and lohar community get identified with their attire having fixed pattern of designing in balotra hand block printing.

It is the second largest populated urban area of Barmer district situated on the banks of “Luni” river in which local people saw flood in the year 2002 for the last time. Since then it is dry and no water is there in the river. Once many families mainly Muslim & Hindu “Chhippa” community were involved in the complex style of hand block printing but today only one “chhippa” family of Yaseen Chhippa is involved in the craft of balotra hand block printing. Today his son Akbar is helping his father and continuing this unique craft.

Printing on patiya (Wooden slab) in Balotra

Yaseen Chhippa received national award for his commendable work.

Pattern and style

The pattern and style of Balotra hand block printing is very complex yet beautiful and unique. It showcases the beautiful nature and culture in its designs and in process it is similar to nandana and tarapur hand block printing techniques.

Like Tarapur style of hand block printing Balotra hand block printing  is also a complex technique which is a combination of direct mordant and dabu resist technique using alizarin, iron rust, kashish, indigo and mix of pomegranate peel and turmeric (haldi) dyes.

Printing again to get desired color shade

“Anokhi” beautifully documented 20 different motifs in designing used by local printers inspired from nature. “Anokhi” has published a book “Balotra the complex language of print”, describing the significance of different patterns and motifs.

Balotra style of hand block printing and process is very similar to complex craft of Nanadna and Tarapur printing. Yet both have difference of geographical specialties.

In Balotra hand block printing traditionally fadat and Ghaghara fabrics were made for local women while in Tarapur “Nandana” ghaghra and “Jawariya” lugda were made.

Today one family is left in this work mainly produces running material, stoles, dupattas and sometimes bed sheets. They seldom do sarees as it is not very easy for them to do it with such a complex style of hand block printing.


Motifs used in printing are mainly floral and geometrical lines. Most of the designs are inspired from Mother Nature and traditional. The name of different designs are as follows:

1. Bahuliya

2. Bhalka

3. Boriya

4. Chameli

5. Genda

6. Gul buta

7. Gunda bel

8. Gunda

9. Jumar

10. Katar

11. Ladu

12. Libodi ki bel

13. Libodi

14. Maliyo ne fetiya

15. Methee

16. Nodana

17. Piniyari

18. Trifuli

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Jawariya: Technique or Block Design

Jawariya Meaning 

Jawariya means jowar ka dana (Sorghum or cereal grass). It is one of the fiber rich, protein rich and easy to digest cereal found in India. Joar is a very good food supplement for people who are suffering from blood sugar. It does not only helps to control the blood sugar but also helps in controlling the weight. 

Jowar (Sorghum) seeds on jawariya fabric

Jawariya is a very old and traditional design used in hand block printing inspired from the nature. It is used in hand block printing since many ages by traditional hand block printers specially by "Tarapur Printers". This tradition is almost 400 years old and still in practice. 
Once it was a trademark design of tribal people of Jhabua, Bagh, Neemuch, Ratlam and nearby places in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in India. In tribal community red printed and pink color dyed "Jawariya lugda" (Tribal saree) is considered necessary during marriage. 
Without Jawariya design saree no marriage ceremony considered complete among tribal even today. Continuation of this tradition still encourages traditional hand block printers to continue production of Jawariya lugda. 

Jowar (Sorghum) seeds on jawariya fabric

Jawariya technique of block design
Many of us wonder that "Jawariya" is not a block printing technique but a block design used by hand block printers. This block is made in "gadh" pattern of hand block printing which means when block is printed on the fabric it creates a rich color background. For "Jawariya" design it requires a mastery in craft of hand block printing to get the better impression on the fabric using natural colors. 

Specialty of Tarapur

Though this design was printed in many of the hand block printing clusters but today "Tarapur" cluster made it famous for and thanks to "Jhariya family" specially Shri Pawan and Banwari Jhariya who still producing "jawariya" lugda for tribal community. In a light manner once Banwari  Jhariya told us "Hamne ab tak kai hazar shadiyaan karwa di hain :)" (We have produced lot of jawariya lugda which made possible thousands of marriage of tribal families). 

This tribal design touched artistic height in Tarapur with the magic hands of Jhariya brothers with intervention of designers. 

Transition from traditional to modern times
Now with increase in the demand from urban consumers jawariya design is now experimented with variety of urban outfits including Saree, T-shirts, fabric  and stoles. 

Jawariya Mal Cotton Saree

Jawariya Modal Stole

Bagh & Bagru Print: Similar process but different traditions

Traditional  Process of Alizarin Printing  1. Purchase of kora/unbleached fabric 2.  Scouring (Cleaning of fabrics locally known ...