Thud thud thud goes the sound as the colour smeared wooden block lands on the fabric. This is the sound of hand block printing. With Reshma's 'Badi Lambi Judai' playing on an old tape-recorder in the background, the hands with an experience of decades never fail to stamp at the right place. The motifs remain more or less the same - paisleys, leaves, flowers, tree, peacock, elephant and some patterns to create borders. Mostly It is just the different arrangement and different sizes of these motifs that differentiate one garment from the other. The most commonly used fabric remains cotton. But hand block printing is now widely done on chanderi cotton, chanderi silk and Kota Doria. 

No matter it's the scorching heat of June or the bone chilling December, these expert hands have been stamping fabrics with the same precision since generations. There's however a lull of a month during monsoons when the production is stopped due to rains. During this time, it becomes difficult to dry the printed fabrics and textiles in direct sunlight, a process that makes the colours look even brighter.

Most of the Hand Block printing in India is done in Rajasthan. Towns like Sanganer, Bagru near Jaipur are the hubs. Udaipur and Jodhpur too have a large number of nationally recognised, award winning block printing artisans, also known as Chippa (printer), in local language. Other than Rajasthan, commercial hand block printing is also practiced in some parts of Gujarat. 

Here’s why block printed garments are loved by millions across the planet?

  • Unmatched beauty of traditional hand printed motifs: It never fails and it always makes you stand out in a party or in office. These are manually produced, and not the factory made where thousands of meters are printed in a day and exactly the same, photo-copied garments are made. In block printing, no two garments will ever be the same because of the simple fact that they are being stamped by hands.
  • Manual rustic touch adds to the magic: As it is done manually, the print pattern on the textile is not uniform which actually makes every piece unique. In one stamping, say the paisley will fall exactly in the right place whereas in another stamping, it will be displaced by half or one millimetre. That gives the fabric a very beautiful hand printed look and feel. Yes, you got to see it to believe it.

Almost all kinds of garments and furnishings are made using the beautiful hand block printed fabrics. Be it Salwar Kameez Suits, Sarees, Kurtis, skirts, palazzos, tops, shirts, men's kurtas. In furnishings, you can choose from a range of bed covers, sheets, quilts, comforters and table linen. A stroll through Jaipur's bustling Bapu Bazaar is a delight and visual treat for anyone who loves handmade block prints and fabrics. That should be on your must do list when you travel to the Pink City next time.