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:
6. Gul buta
7. Gunda bel
12. Libodi ki bel
14. Maliyo ne fetiya