HAND Block Print- HERITAGE of Sanganer
The famous “SANGANERI” hand-block printing is originated in the small town of “Sanganer” that is located near the river Doondh about 16 km south of Jaipur, Rajasthan. Sanganer is known for its textile printing, handmade paper industry, and beautiful Jain temples.
The art is known for its sober patterns, bright colors, and fine motifs mostly depicting the flora and fauna of Sanganer. Originally the Sanganer prints were always created with bright color patterns printed on white backgrounds. However, modern Sanganeri prints may include modern motifs and different colors on backgrounds.
SANGANERI PRINTS AND “DOONDH RIVER”
The Doondh river flowing from Sanganer has an important role to play in the dyeing of Sanganeri fabric. It is said that the mineral-rich water of the river brings out special radiance and richness in the naturally dyed fabrics of Sanganer. Its wide sandy riverbanks offer space to spread out the cloth in the bright sunshine without getting dirty.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in its report on the Jaipur hand block printed textile cluster, has mentioned, “Shades of black come out best after washing the cloth in the waters of Sanganer. Sanganer motifs are mostly floral-based. Fine lines and intricate detailing are specialties of the Sanganeri style.”
ORIGIN OF SANGANERI PRINTS
The traditional Sanganeri vegetable print is around 500 years old hand-block heritage. The development of print is estimated around the 16th-17th centuries. The constant Mughal- Maratha wars caused several craftsmen to migrate from Gujarat to Rajasthan who ultimately found the patronage of the Jaipur royal family.
They found Sanganer the most suited place for flourishment of their art may be due to the presence of plenty of water of river Doondh. The river helped the artisans with a constant water source for washing and dyeing the products. Sanganer thus started to develop into a major printing center and by the end of the 18th century, under the reign of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh, Sanganer became a well-established hub for hand-block printing textiles. Maharaja also invited printers from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat to settle in this newly developed block printing village of Rajasthan.
Sanganeri printing was highly popular in all European countries with its Calico prints and became one of the major exports of the East India Company. Its trademark was the original dye used for printing designs. This dye soon became a matter of significance in European culture as well.
THE CRAFTSMEN COMMUNITY
The timeless art of hand-block print is passionately followed by the artists of the Chippa and Rangrez communities. They practice the art of Bagru and Sanganer for ages as their primary occupation is to perform the work of printing (chappai) and dyeing. The special skills remains in their family and the art runs in generations.
Chippa is actually a clan involved in hand-block printing. Their name comes from two Nepal Bhasha words –
The three major communities involved in the making of Sanganeri prints are :
- Chippa– Printers
- Rangrez– Dyers
- Wooden block carvers or block makers.
THE SANGANERI MOTIFS
The prints of Sanganer comprise delicate floral patterns and depict the flora and fauna of Sanganer. Motifs are known with many names like “Design” in English, “Tarah” in Persian, “Bhant or Butta” in Hindi. These Bhants are a fine composition of buds, flowers & leaves, trees & plants. Important motifs include –
- BEL – It is kind of a beautiful intricate border, a running pattern of leaves and flowers work upon a fabric. Along with floral motifs, Bhants (motif) of Peacock, Parrot and different birds were also used to create a Bel. Some of the traditionally made Bels are known as: Kangura bel, Sugga bel, Dakh bel, Keri bel, Belpatra bel, Machali bel, Morani bel etc.
- BUTA / BUTI – The fine cluster of Flowers & leaves, Trees & Plants, Animals or birds got known as Buta & Buti. Small shapes of motifs are known as Buti, while the larger one is called Buta. These can be composed as a Natural style (Kamal Buti , Genda Buti) or Decorative style (Bichoo Buti, Bal Buti, Keri Buti (Mango Shape), Pan Buti (Beetle Leaf Shape), Katar Buti (Dagger Shape) etc.
- FLOWERS – roses, rosettes, lotuses, lotus bud, sunflower, lily, ‘champa’ ‘canna’ ‘nargis’, marigold, narcissus etc.
- Jal (floral net) – Jal is made of a composition of natural motifs in a pattern that creates an impression of a net. Earlier these were made by the composition of flowers and leaves, but later on birds and animals were also used as Bhant. Some of the traditional sangneri Jal are: Keri Jal (mango),Gulab Jal (rose), Patti Jal (leave), Hiran Jal (Deer), Sher Jal (lion) etc.
- flowers of luxuriant foliage – daturas, rudrakshas, and arkas
- Fruit trees of banana, dates, grapes pomegranate etc.
THE SANGANERI STYLE OF PRINTING
Sanganeri block prints typically employ two kinds of techniques in the art form-
- ‘calico printing’ – This involves printing of the outlines followed by the filling in of colors. Local craftsmen then repeat these designs in diagonal sections.
- “doo-rookhi” – It is a popular printing technique in which the fabric is printed on both sides.
Jaipur royal patronage and Rajasthani heritage have been an inspiration for the Sanganeri art to blossom. The art remained unchanged for 100s of years and flourished well under the patron of rich traders and royal families who had a fine taste of luxury and fondness for tradition and ethnicity.
The print is characterized by fine quality hand-block prints/motifs printed on white, off white or pastel color textiles. The elaborate detailing of the flowers and the petals is very exclusive to the Sanganeri prints. This elaborate work requires ages of practice and patience which then reflects upon their dyed piece of fabric. However, modern Sanganeri prints are seen with deep-colored backgrounds and modern motifs.
BLOCKS USED IN PRINTING
The motifs are printed by hand using blocks dipped in different colors like yellow, blue, green on white fabric. These blocks can be wooden or metallic as per the requirement of the artisan.
1. Wooden blocks –
These blocks are usually made on teak or seesham wood. The wood must be first seasoned and then carved intricately creating beautiful motifs on it. The designs are first printed on paper and stuck on a block of wood. Trained artisan, then start carving the wood with steel chisels, of different widths and cutting surface. The motifs are carved on the base while the top has a handle. Blocks can be rectangular, square, oval, semi-circular, circular etc. in shape.
Once the pattern is carved on the block, it is soaked in oil for almost 10-15 days to soften the grains. The outline blocks are called rekh and the filler blocks are called datta. Block making is an important process and the block printer is an accessory to craftsmen.
A good block-maker must have excellent carving skills, a sense for design, an understanding of wood preparation, and knowledge of how the block would be used. The good quality of wood, preciseness of cutting, carving skills, and the depth of the pattern make a block long-lasting and motifs matchlessly beautiful.
2. METALLIC blocks –
In order to get high clarity in dense and intricate patterns, metal blocks are used. These blocks are made by engraving thin sheets of evenly cut metal strips into the wooden blocks. The metal strips are first beaten into thin sheets and then cut as strips of even lengths. The design is drawn on the wooden block and the metal strips are pressed onto the design by gentle hammering. Once made the blocks are checked to see the strips are of the same height as the wooden base.
Metal blocks are costly and, time consuming to make but are long lasting.
MAKING OF SANGANERI PRINTS
In traditional Sanganeri prints only used natural colors derived from plants and minerals. But today artists use both chemical and vegetable dyes. The process of block printing is extensive due to its intricate process, motifs and vibrant colors.
Washing or HARI SARANa:
The fabric brought from the market is dipped in solution of water and bleach for 1-2 days in order to remove starch and dust from it. It is then boiled and washed with water.
The cloth to be printed is spread on the printing table and fixed with the help of pins. With help of scale and chalk, printing areas are marked and proper gaps are left for cutting and stitching.
The printer dips the block in the color and stamps the design on the cloth. The blocks are then pressed hard to ensure that the imprint of the color is evenly drawn on the fabric. Printing starts from left to right. First, the outline color is applied and then the filling colors. The process of printing is called as Chapaai.
Once the printing is completed the fabric is dried out in sun for the colors to get fixed. This is done specially for the pigment dyes. The process is called as Sukhaai.
The fabric then goes through the process of steaming in the special boilers constructed for this purpose. After steaming, the material is washed thoroughly, dried in the sun and then ironed. ironing further fixes the color permanently. This final process of washing is called Dhulaai.
The principal items printed here include sarees, dupattas, salwar-kameez, bed cover, curtains, scarves, and printed yardages (running cloth material), etc. Both local and imported cloth materials are used. At present,’ mulmul’ (cotton voile), ‘latha’ (sheeting fabrics) and cambric etc. are sourced from Jaipur.
CURRENT SANGANERI PRINTS
At present, the textile market of Sanganer is famous around India and worldwide for its traditional styles of printing. This hand-block art has now changed significantly as per the demand of the current fashion market. There are experiments in color combinations, background colors, motifs and everything has undergone the modern transformation in fashion and style. Now block printing can be found on tops, skirts, scarves and other modern appreals
Indian and International designers find Sanganeri as a beautiful art to play with. As a matter of pride, International stores have used this pattern to showcase Indian prints.
Sanganeri art of hand block printing has win the “Geographical Identification mark” Under the Geographical Indication of Goods Registration and Protection Act.1999, because of its persistent efforts and involvement of the local natural resources. GI mark status is a boost for Sanganeri print, as only those prints which are made in this region will be recognized as Sanganeri Print and others can be punishable. This will improve the financial condition of local craftsmen, provide them with more funds and help gain more recognition in the market.
THE SANGANERI MAGIC
It is a print must-try. Being lightweight and easy to wear, it is ideal to absorb summer heat. Sanganeri art effortlessly showcases ethnic expressions of calm and comfort along with the legacy of local craftsmanship. It is high in demand as it is one of the easiest print to maintain. Just mild hand or machine wash would be ideal for this fabric.
The art conveys all the good. It deserves a place in our hearts and obviously in our wardrobes. Do try and feel the story that this beautiful fabric carries within.
LINKS: BAGRU PRINT
IMAGE SOURCE: EXOTICINDIA.COM