The classic art of block printing

Block printing is a traditional Indian art that has been practiced in Rajasthan for centuries.

The tradition of block printing encompasses many communities throughout Rajasthan, and different castes are usually responsible for different parts of the process. The printing process is usually practiced by Chippas, a block printing caste from the village of Bagru in Jaipur. A different caste will be responsible for carving the block, and a different caste for washing the fabric.

The popularity of block printing reached its peak during the Mughal era, under the reigns of Babur, Akbar and Shahjahan. It was during this period that botanical, floral and paisley prints were introduced, and which still remain key prints in today’s workshops.

The block printing tradition has been kept alive in part thanks to renewed Western interest in the craft, and the art continues to be passed down from one generation to the next.

The printing process itself requires a paper design to be replicated and carved onto a wooden block, a process that is done entirely by hand. The block is then repeatedly stamped across an entire fabric, often using different colours.

Every piece of fabric is printed by eye, using beautiful rich hues made of natural plant dies, clay and lime. The slight imperfections remind us of the human story behind every piece of fabric, which only adds to the beauty and charm of the piece.