Block printing in India dates back to several centuries. It is a popular style of dyeing and printing clothes in several states lining the western coast of the country, as well as in West Bengal in the east, Punjab in the North and Andhra Pradesh in the South.
Essentially, a technique in which motifs are stamped on to cloth with ink to produce colourful patterns, block printing has acquired local flavours depending on the region.
Once the printing is complete and the color has set, the fabric is thoroughly washed and dried. This is followed by a final check for any quality issues and any cutting or sewing that needs to take place.
Ajrakh printing, for example, practiced in Kutch, Gujarat is a traditional Indian craft that uses vivid natural dyes and wooden blocks to print unique patterns on cotton fabric. The process is elaborate and laborious.
Traditional Daboo printing is practiced widely in Rajasthan. The designs and motifs are very similar to the motifs used in all traditional Rajasthani textiles, since the ‘blocks’ used for printing are common to most of these techniques.
They tend to be nature inspired designs of plants, birds, flowers, fruits as well as artistic ethnic motifs, requiring numerous stages of printing, dyeing, and washing to achieve the gorgeous designs.