Sanganeri Block Printing: Corner Of Art
Origin Of Printing
Did you know printing is something that existed even before the existence of paper? No? Neither did I. Usually printing is associated with paper, because of the popularity of books and newspapers, and other things, but block printing existed even before the concept of extracting paper from trees. There is various evidence claiming the existence of block printing dating back as far as 300BCE! This process also came into the Indian subcontinent dating all the way back in the 4th century BCE, and from their own Block Printing started being a major part of our tradition.
India has a very rich history and heritage in block printing, one of the most prominent ones being the Sanganeri Block Printing, which was originated in a small village in Rajasthan called Sanganer. Other prominent block prints originate from Bagru, Akola, Barmer, and Jodhpur.
Origin of Sanganeri Printing
How did it all start?
The Sanganeri printing technique is said to have started all the way back in the 16th century. Initially it was practiced in Gujarat, but because of the constant tension and battles between the Mughals and the Marathas, they had to move north and settle in Sanganer, in Rajasthan, where it has struggled ever since!
A symbol of beauty and craft was created by the onset of wars and battles, ironic.
The beauty and the complex designs of the Sanganeri Painting grew so popular, as it became one of the major export items for the East India Company, as its trademark was the original dye used for printing designs. This dye soon became a matter of significance in European culture as well.
The dyers originally came from Punjab and Sindh and belonged to a community known as the ‘chippa‘ community. The majority of them are Muslims. The most interesting fact is that the entire family, including children, get involved in the process. Today, nearly 3000 people are employed in practicing this craft on a professional level.
Sanganeri ‘Block’ Painting
Sanganeri is a ‘block’ painting. What is a block painting you ask? Well simply speaking, block painting is basically imprinting a piece of fabric with a pre formed block of wood or metal.
The wooden blocks used for Sanganeri Painting are made out of Teak or Sheesham wood. In fact, the blocks, which are used to print outlines, are called Rekha, and the filler blocks are called Datta. The wooden block is seasoned, and then the desired design is carved out onto by the artisan. Usually a wooden block always has two or more holes at the back to allow air to flow as well as to let out the excess color and usually lasts for up to 800 meters of printing.
To get more intricate patterns and more delicate details with sharp lines, metal blocks are used. Metal strips are hammered and turned into thin strips that are engraved into a wooden block. These metal strips are very time consuming to create and utilize, but on the flip side they last much more than a traditional wooden block.
Designs of Sanganeri
The trademark of Sanganeri are these intricate designs and fine lines, which are very brilliantly crafted by the artisans.This printing process features a variety of butas, and the designs mainly consist of traditional symbols. The motifs are usually based on flowers, paisley, centreline patterns along with leaves and birds. Most inspiration for the Sanganeri printing style comes from commonly observed symbols in nature, and hence, most designs are named after flowers, vegetables, and other such objects.
Nowadays, as the times are changing and we are moving into the later part of the 21st century, the Sanganeri Paintings are also adapting to the modern world, with adapting the more modern designs and patterns in a very beautiful manner.
The Colours Of Sanganeri
The traditional Sanganeri printing used natural dyes. These dyes were derived from natural sources like yellow from turmeric, blue from the indigo plant, black form rust iron, and so on. Red and black were the most common colors used throughout the state of Rajasthan, followed by yellow blue and green.
The natural dyes would often transmit smell onto the clothes and the colours easily fades away, just like these faded away, making way for synthetic dyes!
Overlapping of colors such as red and pink, or purple and orange is not very uncommon nowadays, because of the technology and synthetic colours, as before this was not possible with the traditional methods.
Printing The World With Sanganeri
Sanganeri Printings, even though they are a very old artform, have taken up the world and the popularity has increased by folds. Being a very easy to maintain and to wear, which also looks very beautiful, it has people from all over the world gravitate towards this beautiful artform, that supports our local artisans.
Explore the world, explore the art.
Let your life be printed, be coloured, with the designs, with these Sanganeri Printings!
Support our original artform and the extremely talented artisans!