Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taditional textile printing

Sanganeri Printing
The Sanganer
Sanganer is situated about 8 kilometers south-east of Jaipur city. Prior to the 17th century, there is no mention of Sanganer as a centre of printing. At that time Sanganer was known as a centre of plain and dyed clothes. It was probably towards the end of the 17th century that this art form developed here. Probably due to war with Emperor Auranngzeb and the repeated invasions of the Marathas, many craftsmen (Printers) from the neighbouring state Gujarat came and settled in Rajasthan. By the end of the 18th century this industry was fully developed in Sanganer. There are at present, about 125 hand block printing units in Sanganer. Sanganer was renowned for its small decorative and delicate floral patterns, called, ‘boota-booties’ which was printed on fine cotton and silk.The dyers and block makers came from Sindh and Punjab and settled here.The printers belong to chhipa community. They are all Hindus and are followers of the renowned Marathi Saint Namdev. Almost every member of the ‘Chippa’ family is involved in the washing, dyeing and printing of clothes. While, the printers are predominantly Hindus, majority of dyers and block makers are Muslims.
Water of the Saraswati River that used to flow graciously through Sanganer, was known for its special quality that used to bring out radiance from the natural dyed fabric. This was major source of inspiration for the printing community.
In olden days, the fabric was printed mainly for use of royal families and rich traders but now it is used as part of clothing for urban families and also exported. 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 material are used. At present,’ mulmul’ (cotton voile), ‘latha’ (sheeting fabrics) and cambric etc. are sourced from Jaipur.
On Sanganeri ‘chintz’ (printed cloth) usually, yellow, green blue (with different tones) are used as the background. These days one rarely comes across the variety of shades that were found in the old Sanganeri ‘chintz’, but still the ‘chhipas’ for sanganer have the incomparable know-how of matching the back ground on base colour with colours of the prints.

Motifs of Sanganeri Printing
Finesse in flowers-petal designs, curves and delicacy are the prime specialties of Sanganer prints. The curvature of flowers in the’bootas’ is generally shown on the right side. Different types of flowers and plants are displayed in the form of ‘bel’ (a border) and ‘boota’ very naturally and in a really attractive manner.
Some of the flowers used in the prints are roses, rosettes, lotuses, lotus bud, sunflower, lily, ‘champa’ ‘canna’ ‘nergis’, marigold etc. Various other flower creations are also found in old Sanganeri prints. Other flowers used are locally known as ‘sosan’, ‘gainda’, ‘gulmehendi’, ‘javakusum’, ‘guldaudi’, ‘kachnar’, ‘jatadari lily’, ‘kaner’, ‘kanna’, ‘gullalla’, etc. ‘Sosan’ and ‘gullala’ prints are probably very suitable to sanganeri prints, therefore they are used in various forms.

In ‘booties’, generally, only one type of flower-petal and bud creations in the following forms : ‘badam, (almond)’, ‘paan’ (beetle leaf), ‘mukut of ‘kalanga’, While printing a saree, if the ‘booti’ is of ‘sosan’ flower or plant the ‘bel’ will also be of ‘sosan’ flower and the big’boota’ to be done on the ‘pallu’ (the end part of a saree) will also be of ‘sosan’ flower decoration. Hence, for printing one sari, a large number of blocks need to be made. In some ‘booties’ one finds a collection of more than one flower in the same product. Sometimes two different blocks of two different ‘booties’ are printed together to form a third type of ‘booti’ e.g. ‘Singhbal booti’. By printing different booties together, the Sanganeri ‘chhipas’ have portrayed excellent know how. Sometimes more than three flowers are fitted beautifully in a single ‘booti’ e.g. in ‘Latkan booti’ banana tree, sosan tree and saro tree collection in assembled beautifully in one pattern.Different ‘boota’ booti, and ‘bel’ have been named by the ‘chhipas’ according to their shape find according to the flowers and fruits used in those. These were very appropriate and interesting.
Many flowers used in Sanganeri prints are not found in Rajasthan, and whichever the craftsmen of Rajasthan have never seen. On this basis, Historian James watt has said, “Obviously many of the Sanganeri designs portray flowers that in not likely to have been seen by the calico printers nor by the block engravers of Rajputana. Inspite of these circumstances, however, there seems every reason to believe that the craft has been handed down for centuries and has come to use in all the purity of original inspiration. The nature, feeling and colour reciprocity, as also the technique in printing are all perfect while the absence of machine regularity gives a charm that place these goods above and beyond anything as yet accomplished in Europe.” Apart from flowers, fruit trees of banana, dates, grapes pomegranate etc. have also been recreated in a very attractive manner. In some old prints figures of parrots and fish are also seen. Since about fifty years, elephant. Horse, camel, peacock and human figures are also used. These are mostly seen on curtains, bed-covers, table clothes etc. The doo-rookhi style of printing is also popular in Sanganer. This is printing done on both sides of the fabric.

Bagru printing
Jaipur is perhaps one of the most culturally rich areas of Rajasthan. From this city, the Chippas moved to Bagru around 300 years ago. They made it their home, and one of Rajasthan's most important centers of hand block printing .The Sanganer and Bagru prints are very similar, but the latter employ a narrower range of colors. Moreover, unlike the Sanganer prints which are always on a white or off-white background, the prints of Bagru are mostly red and black and blue.
The Syahi-Begar prints are a combination of black and yellow ochre or cream. The Dabu prints are created by hiding them from dye, by applying a resist. Bagru prints are characterized by circular designs, as well as linear and floral patterns.In both the Sanganer and Bagru prints, the colors are picked carefully. Each has a separate significance. For instance, red is the color of love, yellow of spring, indigo of Lord Krishna, and saffron of the yogi (seer). The wooden blocks that are used are made of teak wood. And traditionally, vegetable dyes made of madder, pomegranate rind, indigo, and turmeric are used. These have now been largely replaced by chemical dyes. Often, the fabric is dyed before it is printed.

The Bagru
Bagru, a small village town in Rajasthan is situated at a distance of 32ksm east of Jaipur. It is known for its traditional processed of hand block printing of textile. The ‘chhipas’ of Bagru have assembled here from Sawai Madhopur, Alwar, Junjjhunu and Sikar districts of Rajsthan to settle in Bagru and make it their home some 300 years ago.
Bagru is derived from the word’ Bagora’ the name of an island in a lake where the city was originally built and is famous for its palm fan and ‘chintz’ (fadat) production pattern. The traditional ‘motifs’ of Bagru have however under gone change over the years. The entire population of ‘chhipas’ which were earlier engaged in production of all local varieties of printed fabrics mostly of ‘fadats,indigo fabric’, ‘angochha’ (small towel), ‘bichhauni’ (bed spread), rajai (quilt) etc. are now engaged in production of sophisticated ‘ kaftans’, ‘wraparounds’ (skirts), ‘midis’ etc.All the same, basic techniques and colours have remained unchanged and unaffected through these centuries, This makes the Bagru prints spectacularly different, distinctive and highly specialized.
The local people, particularly the women folk, mainly used the Bagru prints in the past. Patterns in rich colours like the indigo blue, alizarin, iron block and bright yellow were produced on coarse cotton cloth by indigenous processed of dyeing and printing. In building up patterns, geometrical forms were adopted along with floral, animal and bird forms. Everything seemed to be inspired from local sources. (Synthetic dyed have now replaced some natural dyes but their ‘resists *, and their application and processed and their sequences have hardly under gone any change. The styles and motifs have been adapted to some extent to the changing market pattern.
The Chippas community settled along the riverside, like any other nomadic settlement. The bank of the river provided then with clay which is an important ingredient in getting the base color of the famed Bagru prints. The artisans smear the cloth with Fuller’s earth got from the riverside and then dip it in turmeric water to get the beige colored background. After that, they stamp the cloth with beautiful designs using natural dyes of earthly shades.
Eco Friendly Colors used in Bagru Hand Block Printing
Bagru prints are done on off-white, ivory white, or beige background. The main colors used in Bagru printing are black, red and maroon. These three main colors are extracted from naturally occurring sources: black is derived from worn-out iron horse or camel shoes soaked in water, red comes from gum paste and phitkari, and maroon is a result of mixing the above two colors.
Apart from these base colors, natural vegetable dyes are used to add colorful patters and designs. These include madder, indigo, pomegranate rind, turmeric, etc. Pigment colors such as green, rust, blue, violet, brown, and pink are added to appease wider markets. There is also a traditional reason for picking a particular color in the designs, such as indigo for Lord Krishna, saffron for a saint or yogi, yellow for spring season, etc.
Difference between Sanganeri and Bagru styles
The main distinguishing feature between Sanganer and Bagru printing is that Sanganer print is usually done on a white ground, whereas Bagru prints are on an Indigo or a dyed background. Local water also has its effects. In Sanganer water, block comes out in its best dark shade, while at Bagru block comes with a reddish tinge. As water has always been abundant in Sanganer, the washing of cloth has formed the main basis of printing and dyeing there. In contrast at Bagru, where water in comparatively scarce, ‘Dhabu’ resist printing and indigo work is mostly done. Difference in motifs
Traditionally, motifs printed at Bagru are large with bold line, as compared to sanganer, where somber colours and fine lines, intricate detailing are practiced. Sanganeri motifs are naturalistically rendered, with motifs usually based on flowers i.e. iris, rose, poppy, marigold, sunflower, chrysanthemum etc. Bagru motifs are more geometric than the sanganeri motifs.
Traditional Designs
The patterns or designs/motifs which are traditionally made in Rajasthan can be classified as ‘boota’, bootie’ and ‘jal’.
‘Boota’: ‘Boota’ is normally referred to as design which is single and complete in itself. The word ‘boota’ is derived from the Persian word ‘Butteh’ which means complete tree. ‘Bootas’ depict the flora and fauna of the region and sometimes birds are also seen. Since it is a single unit the spacing between the two impressions can be varied normally a ‘boota’ is not bigger than 3”x5”.
‘Booti’: ‘Booti’ is a smaller form of ‘boota’ and the spacing between one ‘booti’ and another is predetermined. There could be up to 20 booties on one block *, depending on the size and space, Like ‘boota’ most of the ‘booties’ depict the flora and fauna and birds of the area. Sometimes the geometric forms like dots, circles, squares and lines are also used. Sanganeri ‘booties’ are classic, decorative delicate, refined and exquisite, which were basically used for royal families of Jaipur for clothing, whereas booties from Bagru are slightly folk.
‘Jaal’: ‘Jaal’ is pattern, which gives continuous interconnection surface. ‘Jaals’ were not very popular in Sanganeri prints but other centres have ‘Jaal;’ Patterns which are floral, paisley (‘keri’) and geometric. Narrow borders of 2”-4” width are also used in all the centers. The designs are similar to ‘booties’ in form and decoration.
Motifs of Bagru
The histories of development of motifs of Bagru are obscure. These are mostly derived form the flora and fauna and are natural in origin. A Comparative study of evolution and layout of motifs clearly reveal a change from old tradition and style. Initially the prints were primarily floral and vegetative. After the Persian influence they became more geometrical, for example a central round and motifs around it.
The motifs of Bagru may be classified into five types:
1. Motifs of flowers and birds : In this stem in the central motif. It balances a floral arrangement on it, usually used as sprays.
2. Motifs inter-twisted tendrils: These are motifs of flowers comprising of spiraling or inter-twisted stems, the flowers leaves and birds. Theses are used as ‘bels’.
3. Motifs of trellis designs: These are mainly the ‘jals’ intricate grid (connecting designs), which were formulated under the Persian influence.
4. Motifs of figurative designs: These are animal, bird and human motifs, e.g., ‘hiran’ (deer), mayur’ (peacock), ‘sua’ (parrot).
1. Motifs of geometrical designs: These are geometrical in shapes, e.g. ‘lehariya’ (wave), ‘chapad’ (check), ‘kanguras’ (triangular), ‘chatais’ (weaved) pattern etc
Traditional Printing process in Sanganer and Bagru
The traditional printing process in sanganer and Bagru can be descried as follows:
1. Scouring- locally called ‘Hari Sarana’
The fabric that comes from mills of handloom sector contains natural and added impurities such as starch, oil and dust. To get goods and even penetration of colours, the fabric is boiled with soap and desizing agents. Traditionally cow dung was used for scouring. Cow dung contains a lot of alkali, Cow dung and water are mixed together and the cloth (running cloth ‘than’cut in required length) is then left dipped in that paste overnight. The process of washing is a long one, generally carried out by the ladies. The next day, the clothes are washed and spread on large open grounds. Before the clothes dry completely, more water is sprinkled on them and thus they are made wet again. This process of sprinkling water and drying is repeated 5-6 times a day. This procedure is carried out unit the cloth becomes white and bright. Generally, as per requirement, this process in done for 3 to 6 days. After this the cloth is washed with pure water. Since it is tedious and time consuming, soaps have replaced the cow dung in this process.
1. Tannin- locally called ‘Peela Karana’ of ‘Harda’
Washed fabric is treated with myrobalan (harda) which contains tannic acid. Tannic acid attracts the mordants, which are applied with hand woodblock. ‘Harda’ powder is mixed with water, and the cloth is submerged in it, squeezed and dried flat on the ground. Once the fabric is dried, it is folded and beaten with a wooden mallet to remove excess ‘harda’ powder and open up the fiber to accept the dye. This process in known as ‘peela karna’. The tannic acid of myrobalam (harda) forms black colour with ferrous ( syahee )which is traditionally made by reaction of old rusted horse shoe nails with jaggery.
(iii) Printing (mordanting)- locally called ‘chapai’
The fabric is printed with two mordant- ferrous (‘syahee’) made out of rusted horse shoe nails, and alum (‘begar’). Usually ferrous is printed with the outline block (‘rekh’). As it immediately shows a black impression, it is easy for another printer to place the filler block (‘datta’) with beggar or alum. The background block (Gudh’) comes later.(
1. Ageing-locally called ‘Sukhai’
The printed fabric is left hanging at the printing areas for at lest three-four days so that the prints(mordant paste) penetrates into the fiber structure. Longer the ageing better is the result.
1. Washing- locally called ‘Dhulai’
The printed fabric is washed in running water. It is important to understand the need of running/flowing water. While washing the printed fabric in running water the excess mordants come out and get washed away with the flow of water without getting stuck back to the cloth. Water shortage has forced the printers to cut short this process due to which, the colours do not get fixed up properly and later “bleed” and people think that natural dyes are not fast.
1. Dyeing (fixing of colour) – locally called ‘Ghan Rangai’
Dyeing is a process in which the dye reacts with two mordants at two different locations on the same print giving two different shades of colours. As mentioned earlier ‘alizarin’ is used as the dye throughout Rajasthan. The colours obtained in conjunction with the two mordants are red (with alum) and block (with ferrous). Dyeing is carried out in large copper vessels (‘tambri’) which are heated by wood fire. Alizarin is filled in small cloth-bags (‘potali’) and dipped in the vessel. The quantity of alizarin dye is calculated by the experienced dyer. ‘Dhawadi phool’, a local flower is boiled along with alizarin to avoid patches and staining. Once the dyed fabric is ready (usually it takes half-an-hour), it is taken out of the copper vessel and left on the ground for drying.
1. Sun-bleaching- locally called ‘Tapai’
Alizarin often”over dyes” the unprinted area giving an off-white or yellow tinge all over the fabric which makes the print look dull. In order to make the ground look ‘white’ again the fabric is sun-bleached. In this process the fabric is laid flat on a river bed, a mild solution of cow dung and water is sprinkled over the fabric. This process is repeated again when the fabric is dried. The interaction of alkali (of cow dung) and thermal heat (sun ray) bleach the ground colour making it look white again. Sometimes this process in carried out before the tannin (‘harda’) treatment but due to shortage of water this process is cut short and these days the ‘off- white’ colour of the background has become a part of natural dyeing process.
1. Resist printing – locally called ‘Dhabu datai’
The special resist paste (clay-lime-gum-insect eaten wheat mixture) technique, a specialty of traditional printing of Rajasthan, is commonly known as ‘dhabu’. Dhabu’ acts as mechanical resist and prevents the penetration of dye during dyeing on areas covered with ‘dhabu’. This technique is used only for creating patterns with indigo blue. Since the resist paste ‘dhabu’ is thick and sticky no sharp definitions are achieved. It is applied with wooden block on the fabric and saw dust is sprinkled over it. Saw dust has two major functions at this stage-first to absorb water from the Dhabu paste and give additional layers of resist. After printing, the fabric is left outside in the sun for drying before dipping in indigo tanks. Small printing table- “patias” are used for dhabu printing and the printer applies dhabu sitting on the floor. It is done mostly by women and old printers, who cannot stand for a long time. The art of making ‘dhabu’paste is kept secret and the recipe is taught only to daughters-in-law. Every family has its own recipe to make the paste.
(viii) Indigo dyeing – locally called ‘Neel rangai’
It is the most interesting process of colouring the fabric blue. Indigo dyeing is done throughout Rajasthan. The process to start a new indigo tank is tedious and complicated but once the vat is ready for use, it is kept ‘alive’ by constant addition of indigo lime and jaggery. An expert indigo dyer can tell the state of dye by the colour of the vat. He adds the exact quantity of every ingredient required, having learnt it by experience. There is no written recipe with the indigo dyer and every family has its own way of handling indigo. The printed cloth is folded neatly like saree pleats and lowered gently into the indigo tank. When the cloth is totally submerged in the tank, the dyer still holding in under the liquid dye, opens each pleat to allow the fabric to have the indigo dye evenly. Since indigo does not react in the presence of air, any air trapped in the folds or pleats will give “patchy” dyeing. An experienced dyer will always unfold the pleats neatly and gently to avoid cracking of ‘Dhabu’. The fabric is then taken out of tank, gently squeezed and opened out to react with the atmospheric oxygen and turn the reduced indigo into oxidized indigo. Indigo has poor affinity to the fabric in the presence of water, so the first “dip” gives a pale sky blue shade. In order to get darker indigo blue, the fabric is again dipped in the tank, pulled out and oxidized. This process is repeated till the desired dark shade is achieved. The fabric is finally dried flat on the ground. Care is taken that while dyeing or drying, ‘dhabu’ does not get broken or cracked, and in ‘dhabu’ printing the crack effect is not considered good quality printing.
For turning the fabric green it is taken for further process of yellow dyeing but before this it is printed with dhabu to retain some blue areas.
1. Yellow dyeing- locally called ‘Haldi naspal putai’
The fabric is again printed with dhabu and taken out in an open area. Four persons hold it at each corner and fifth person dips a loose-woven woolen fabric fabric which acts as a sponge in the dye extracted out of haldi (turmeric) and naspal (pomegranate rinds) and rubs it gently all over the cloth to be dyed. The application of the yellow dye is like mopping the floor but it done gently so that the ‘dhabu’ does not come off. The idea of using loose woven fabric in the process of dyeing is to retain enough dye while applying it. Once the fabric is dyed evenly, it is taken for post mordanting or fixing of yellow dye.
1. Post mordanting with alum- locally known as ‘Fitkari Rangai’
The dye extracted from turmeric and pomegranate peals is very fugitive and in order to make is fast, post mordanting is done with alum (fitkari). In this process the fabric is dipped in a big copper vessel filled with water and diluted alum. After leaving it of a few minutes (long period of time will cause the dhabu to come off) it is taken out, gently squeezed and dried flat on the ground. When it is completely dry it is folded and stored in dark places of at least 3 to 4 days so that the yellow dye sets in. Finally it is taken out for washing.
1. Washing – locally called ‘Dhulai’
Washing of the fabric is done in order to take out resist paste and excess or unattached dye from the surface. In this process the fabric is left in big tanks for at lest 3 to 4 hours till the resist paste becomes smooth. The fabric is then beaten over a flat stone slab to remove the resist paste and excess dye. The beating of the cloth is generally done where there is a flow of water.
Block Making
The craft of block making came to Rajasthan along with printers from Sind-Punjab. Most of the block makers in Rajasthan are Muslims. The basic carving tools are made by block makers themselves form iron rods, bicycle spokes etc. The ‘design” is first drawn on paper and stretched out on smooth surface of wood. The motif or design is then pierced through the needles so that the “impression” is transferred on the smooth surface of wood, later the unwanted areas are carved out.
Iron nails and woolen-felt are also used to improve the quality of impression. Wooden block can be classified in three types viz ‘Rekh’- the outline block, “gudh”- the background block, and “Datta’- the filling block.
‘Rekh’: The key outline block (from the Hindi word “ rekha” which means line) defines the form of pattern. Normally rekh in considered the “key block” which gets printed first in order to give ‘clue’ to other block to fit in. In some cases rekh is split into two blocks in order to print two colours. This kind of block is known as ‘chirai’ (splitting) block.
‘Gudh’: The block which covers the background of patterns in called gudh. Gudh is sometimes treated as the key block and printed first.
‘Datta’: All blocks other than over above mentioned two become ‘dattas’ or filling blocks.
The handle: Once the block is carved, a handle, usually of cheaper wood, is nailed to the block to help the printer in registering the impression with the block comfortable. The handle is a very important part of block making, as it is this part which helps to trace the family who carved the block. One has only to look at the handle to identify the block maker as each family uses special effect in block handle. Some carve the handle out of the same piece of wood on which the design is carved and some shape the handle in a peculiar way.
The wood: Seesam, a kind of India teak is used for making blocks. Since it is tough wood the outline block which wears out most are made out of it. ‘Roahda’ and ‘Gurjan’ which are softer and lighter wood are used for making the rest of the blocks including mud resist blocks which generally need deep carving and light weight
Printing Tables
Traditionally printing tables were of 2 feet wide and 3 feet in length and 1foot high above the ground. These are known as‘patias’. Now-a-days bigger table 5 feet wide, 6 meters long and 4 feet high are used for faster production. Women and old printers prefer the traditional ‘patia’ for printing. The printing table are covered with 22 to 26 layers of Hessian cloth and finally covered with three-four layers of old fabric known as ‘acharas’. These ‘acharas’ are changed every time a fresh cloth is laid for printing. For better quality of workmanship the printers to have two separate tables for printing black and red colours.
Technological advancement – The present Story
Sanganer now is part of greater Jaipur. The River Saraswati is dried up completely and now waste water of the city flows through it. The main resource of water is the ground water which is also receding at alarming rate. Most of the printer’s families have converted their homes into small printing units where printers from Sanganer and nearby villages come and print fabrics. The transition from the traditional dyes to the modern chemical dyes four to five decades back forced the traditional dyers /printers to adapt the new technology with hit and trial method. Most of the printer’s families were uneducated and the dye manufacturing companies too were more interested in selling the products. Though the chemical dyes were manufactured for the organized textile sector, the cottage industries adapted them without much technical know how. At present the following dyes are been used at the printing units in Sanganer.
1. Discharge Style:
In this style, dyed ground is removed leaving white or coloured patterns on the original ground by using a various types of reducing agents. Following ground shades are commonly used for getting white and coloured patterns.
1. Direct dyed ground
2. azoic dyed ground
3. reactive dyed ground
4. Aniline black ground
5. Indigo sol ground
These all are only for cotton material Rangolite-c is used as reducing agents Rangolite-c is complex compound of formaldehyde and sodium hydro sulphite.
Chemically it is a sodium sulphenate of formaldehyde, chemically it is sodium. Sncl2 is also used as reducing agent for printing.
2. Pigment Style:
Pigments are the organic or inorganic substances insoluble in water and have no affinity for any textile materials. However they are fixed by using a synthetic binder which binds the coloured pigments and form a transparent thin film over the fabric. Thus pigment molecules are bound between the binder film and textiles. The rubbing fastness property depends upon the types of binder catalyst used.
3. IndigoSol & Rapids
These classes of soluble vat colours are the best in all round fastness properties. These dyes can be easily mixed with azoic (rapid) dyes and give complete range of colours.
4. Other Styles
1. Metal printing: Metallic powder is applied to produce a design in gold silver etc. they are printed with synthetic binders such as binder SLN.
2. Khadi Printing: Production of Khadi effect can be brought about by using Titanium dioxide and printing powder.
3. Batik printing: Various designs can be produced first with the molten wax which is the main mechanical resist after the wax become hard. The whole cloth is crumbed to produce crushed effect on the wax portion. The cloth is dyed with indigo sol vat or azoic colours. The wax is removed by boiling, though this is a very lengthy process but excellent marble effect of various hues can be obtained which is not possible by any methods of printing.
(d) Printing direct dyes on cotton and other synthetic rayon’s. These dyes come up much faster on viscose then cotton due to its higher swelling property. To prevent bleeding during washing of direct printed goods after steaming dye fixing agent is applied before the after wash so that the dye which is taken up by the fibers is bound by the dye fixing agent which of the opposite ionic nature. The use of cationic dye fixing agent not only or minimize the bleeding but also prevents the ground getting stained by the unfixed dye.
Difference between Dabu printing and Bagru Printing
Dabu printing is also a unique art form found alongside Bagru prints. In this, a design is sketched onto the background cloth. This sketched design is covered with clay on which saw dust is sprinkled. The saw dust sticks to the cloth as the clay dries. Thereafter, the entire cloth is dyed in select colors. The area where clay and sawdust mixture is present does not catch the dye and remains colorless. After dyeing and drying, the cloth is washed to remove the clay and the mixture. For additional color, this cloth is dyed again in a lighter shade to cover the patterned area. This unique form of printing is also environmentally non-toxic and uses no harmful or synthetic dyes.

Kalamkari (Telugu: కలంకారి) or Qalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, produced in parts of India. The word is derived from the Persian words kalam (pen) andkari (craftmanship), meaning drawing with a pen.
a. The craft made at Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh, evolved with patronage of the Mughals and the Golconda sultanate.
b. There are two distinctive styles of kalamkari art in India - one, the Srikalahasti style and the other, the Machalipatnam style of art. The Srikalahasti style of Kalamkari, wherein the "kalam" or pen is used for free hand drawing of the subject and filling in the colours, is entirely hand worked. This style flowered around temples and their patronage and so had an almost religious identity - scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners and the like, depicted deities and scenes taken from the great hindu epics - Ramayana. Mahabharata, Puranas and the mythological classics. This style owes its present status to Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhayay who popularised the art as the first Chairperson of the All India Handicrafts Board. Only natural dyes are used in Kalamkari and it involves seventeen painstaking step
Kalamkari craft is very old. This art knew its apogee in the wealthy Golconda sultanate, Hyderabad, in the middle ages.
Kalamkari art has been practised by many families in Andhra Pradesh and has constituted their livelihood.
In ancient times, groups of singers, musicians and painters, called chitrakattis, moved village to village to tell the village dwellers, the great stories of Hindu mythology. Progressively, during the course of history, they illustrated their accounts using large bolts of canvas painted on the spot with rudimentary means and dyes extracted from plants. The first Kalamkari had been born. In the same way, one found in the Hindu temples large panels of Kalamkari depicting the episodes of Indian mythology, akin to the stained glasses of the Christian cathedrals.
Kalamkari had a certain decline, then it was revived in India and abroad for its craftsmanship. Since the 18th century the British liked the decorative element for clothing
The cotton fabric gets its glossiness by immersing it for an hour in a mixture of myrabalam (resin) and cow milk. Contours and reasons are then drawn with a point in bamboo soaked in a mixture of jagri fermented and water; one by one these are applied, then the vegetable dyes. After applying each color, the Kalamkari is washed. Thus, each fabric can undergo up to 20 washings. Various effects are obtained by using cow dung, seeds, plants and crushed flowers.


Methods for scouring and bleaching of gada cloth vary. Some artists simply immerse gada cloth in cool water over night then beat the wet cloth to remove further impurities.
-Gada cotton fabric is scoured by immersing it overnight in a sheep dung/water solution (1 lump of dung for 10 liters of water).
-The cloth is exposed to the sun for a day by spreading it on the banks of the river.
-Water is continually sprinkled on the cloth to prevent it from drying.
-In the evening the cloth is washed by folding it and slapping it against a washing stone, followed by rinsing in the flowing river.
-The cloth is then re-immersed in a freshly prepared sheep dung solution and the process is repeated.
-On the second day the sprinkling is stopped in the late evening to allow the cloth to dry.


The first step in making a kalamkari painting is the treatment of gada, or unbleached cotton cloth in kaccha or myrobalam and buffalo milk solution. A desired size of gada cloth is scoured and bleached before it is treated with the myrobalam/ milk solution. A paste of powdered myrobalam fruit (karakkai, T. chebula) is mixed in fresh, unheated buffalo milk. For about 6 meters of cloth, 200 grams of myrobalam powder and about 2 liters of milk is needed. This solution is kept for 1 hour to extract tannic acid from the seeds. The cloth is then soaked in the myrobalam solution for 15 minutes, taking care to see that the entire length of cloth is sufficiently saturated. The cloth takes on a light yellow color. It is then squeezed/twisted to remove excess solution, and dried in the sun on a sandy riverbank for approximately 1 hour. The cloth is folded and can be stored in a cool dry place for up to 3 months. The high fat content of the milk prevents dye from spreading beyond the point of application. The immature myrobalam contains tannic acid that acts as the mordant component for the black dye (kasimi).
The kalam, or bamboo pen, is the most important tool in painting kalamkari and gives the artform its name: kalam (pen)kari (work/action/agent). A kalam is made from bamboo splinters measuring about 4-6 inches in length, sharpened to a tip of desired thickness. A thicker point is preferred for filling in background color, while a finer point is used for outlines. About 1 to 1 ½ inches from the tip of the kalam, is a dye reservoir made from small rags of coarse wool that are wound around the bamboo and tied in place by cotton thread. This reservoir absorbs and retains the dye solution.
According to many artists, cotton cloth cannot be used for the reservoir as it has higher absorptive capacity, no resilience, and would release larger amounts of dye when squeezed. Artists regulate the flow of dye down the bamboo kalam to the point through deliberate and controlled squeezing of the reservoir.
In this manner an artist can vary the thickness of the lines s/he draws by skilfully moving the tip of the kalam over the cloth. Kalams with thinner points are sometimes slit from the tip to the dye reservoir, and filled with a few strands of hair or thread to facilitate the flow of black dye. The reservoir of thekalam is never allowed to dry. It is washed and dried thoroughly before storage.

Most artists will sketch a charcoal outline on the prepared cloth before application of black dye (kasimi). Some artists use charred tamarind twigs to draw, while others use commercially manufactured charcoal or lead pencils.

The following steps are taken to prepare tamarind twigs (chinta boggo) for sketching:
• Dried twigs that have fallen around the tree are gathered and broken to a length of 3-7 inches.
• To char the twigs, a shallow circular pit is scooped out in dry soil and a heap of sand is kept besides the pit.
• The dry twigs are piled up to a height of 2-3 inches above the ground level. Some newspaper is also placed among the twigs to facilitate burning. The twigs and paper is set on fire.
• When the flame dies down, sand is thrown over the twigs, and they are set to cool in the pit for 3-4 hours.
• This slow cooling makes the pencils tough. The ash coloured twigs are then unearthed, rolled between one?s fingers to remove greyish bark until black color is revealed.The pencils so prepared can be stored until further use (do not remove bark before charring; else the twigs will turn to ash).
KASIMI (Black)

Black ink/dye or kasimi is at the basis of all traditional kalamkari paintings; it is used to outline all figures, write texts and narrative descriptions, and is the first ink to be applied to myrobalam-treated cloth. Kasimi is made from a fermented solution of rusted iron pieces and sugarcane jaggery. Scrap bits of iron are mixed with about 10 liters of water and jaggery until it is thin to the touch and sweet to the taste.? Keep the kasimi solution in an earthen pot, cover and let ferment for 12-15 days (longer if in a cooler climate). A brown/grey/blackish froth forms at the surface, indicating that the solution is ready. The iron acetate is strained through cotton cloth into another container (earthenware, plastic, stainless steel, glass). If stored in a cool place, the solution can be kept up to one year. Iron bits can be reused in later preparations of the solution. Kasmi solution is used for outlining of figures/motifs and for filling in larger areas in black color. When the iron acetate is applied to treated cloth, a chemical reaction takes place between the iron acetate and the myrobalam solution, causing the kasimi to first appear as a dull, brownish gray, and after a few seconds reach a deep black color. Artists use a cotton rag (or the reservoir ball on the side of the kalam) to dab/clean up any excess or unwanted ink that falls on the cloth. It takes about 5 minutes for the kasimi to fully dry on the cloth.
• When first applying kasimi to the cloth, the color appears dull, brown, gray and takes a few moments to turn a deep black-


Red shades are acquired through a lengthy alum mordant painting/dyeing process. Alum powder (50 grams) is dissolved in warm water (1 liter) until a thin and watery consistency is achieved. Artists paint alum solution on all portions of the cloth that should appear red. The cloth is allowed to dry for two days. It is then rinsed in flowing river water to remove excess alum, squeezed and dried in the sunlight. The alum solution can be stored in glass or plastic containers for several months. Once the alum solution is dried, water is brought to a boil in a large copper vessel. Chavalikodi root and Surulipatta bark is added to the boiling water. After about 20 minutes, artists submerge the alum-painted cloth and boil for about 40 minutes. The cloth is then removed, rinsed with cold water, and let dry. For a darker shade of red/multiple shades of red in a single piece, the entire process (treatment in myrobalam solution, alum painting and Chavalikodi root and Surulipatta bark dye vat boil) is repeated until desired color(s) is achieved. Some artists are also applying lime juice onto portions cloth that have already been dyed red, in order to obtain a light pink color. Typically lime juice is used to create pink line details on red figures or on floral motifs. At present it is important to note that most artists are using a synthetic form of alizerine for obtaining red colors on cloth. Typically the alizerine is mixed with alum and painted directly onto the cloth, however some artists maintain the two-step process of painting alum first then dyeing the cloth in a red dye bath (in this case alizerine).


Preparation for lighter colors After the Chavalikodi root and Surulipatta bark dye bath, the cloth has a slight red tint. If the artist wishes to remove this red tint, the cloth needs to be bleached in a sheep dung and water solution and set overnight. The next day, the cloth is removed from the sheep dung solution, rinsed in flowing water, set on the banks of a sandy river bed, and sprinkled with water (until saturated) every hour for the entire day. In the evening the cloth is returned to the sheep dung solution and the process is repeated for 2-4 days, depending on the whiteness desired. Before yellow or additional colors are added, the cloth is again treated in the myrobalam-milk solution.
MYROBALAM FLOWERS (Yellow, Green, Brown)

A yellowish colored dye is obtained by mixing 150 grams of powdered myrobalam flowers and 4 liters of boiling water in an earthen or metal pot. The solution is stirred for some time and then set to cool for about 2-3 hours. Some artists have indicated that a better, darker shade of yellow is obtained if the solution is left to mature for a week in a glass (or non-absorbent) vessel. Before painting the yellow dye solution onto cloth, 10 grams of alum is added. All portions of a cloth that should appear yellow and green are painted with this dye solution. The dye can be stored up to 6 months in a cool place. Occasionally artists add a solution of aged mango bark and boiling water over the myrobalam yellow dye solution to obtain superior color fastness, or to create a slightly brownish color. The yellow solution, if set for several days, can turn a slight greenish tint. Otherwise, green can be obtain by painting portions with the myrobalam yellow solution, then treating the same portion of cloth with indigo dye. Once myrobalam yellow painting is completed, the cloth is dried in the shade. The next day, the cloth is washed well in flowing river water and dried in the sunlight. Sometimes pomegranate rinds are used to obtain a yellow color dye. About 200 grams of rinds are powdered and boiled in 3 liters of water. Once cooled, about 8-10 grams of alum is added to the solution. The pomegranate rind solution can then be painted directly onto cloth, creating a dullish yellow color.


For the most part, the blue dye currently being used in Sri Kalahasti is a synthetic ultramarine blue. The solution, called neeli mandu, is made from about 10 grams of commercially produced ultramarine blue dye lumps dissolved in water. It is applied to the cloth on unpainted portions where a blue color is desired, or it is painted over existing yellow portions that should be green. Once dried, the cloth is then washed lightly in water and dried. Based on the existing method of using ultramarine blue, the color is not very fast, therefore the cloth is washed carefully.
When indigo is applied by kalam / painting directly to the cloth, the dye is not fast. To insure fastness and stability of indigo, it is necessary to sumberge the cloth in an indigo vat, using a resist (like wax) to protect portions of the cloth that should not be blue. While indigo is used in limited situations by kalamkari artists in Sri Kalahasti, the following method has been cited for indigo painting onto cloth. If this technique for indigo application was used, it would likely fade easily and disappear if washed.

1) An earthen pot is buried in the earth, filled with powdered indigo cakes or nil (1/2 kg) and water (15 liters).

2) Another earthen pot is half-buried in the ground. The half that is left exposed outside is coated with lime. On top of this pot another earthen pot is placed, with a hole at the bottom. The upper pot is filled with paddy husk. Two solutions are then created, one a mixture of alkaline dirt (8 kg) and water (5 liters), the other a mixture of shell-lime (5kg) and water (5 liters). These solutions are poured over the upper pot, filtered through the husks, and drained into the lower pot. A lid is placed over the upper pot. The filtered alkaline-lime solution, collected in the lower pot, is called appala karam.
3) In a small pot, 2 kg thagarsa (cassia tora or tandipa ginjalu) seeds are boiled an aluminium pot with 3-4 liters of water for about 30-45 minutes until the seeds soften to a paste. The paste is cooled, and then mixed with the appala karam until a solution is obtained with the same consistency as that of the nil solution (step one). The two solutions (nil and thagarsa-alkaline-lime) are mixed together and left for 10-15 days (7-10 days in the summer, 15 days in the winter), stirring twice a day until a yellow-greenish color is obtained and the solution smells like mud. The indigo solution is then ready for painting, turning blue when exposed to air (through painting).
Ajrakh prints were dominated by geometrical shapes and use intense jewel-like colours of rich crimson and a deep indigo, with black and white highlights. In Gujarat, the main centres of Ajrakh are Dhamadka, Khavda and Bhuj. The Khatri community has been engaged in this craft for centuries and the technique has been passed down and perfected through several generations. Now, however, only two such family units of Ajrakh printers still practice the craft in India.
Ajrakh blocks are also no longer easy to come by, as there are very few block-makers (or indeed, block-making families) left in Sindh
Origins of Ajrakh
The history of the Ajrakh can be traced from the times of the ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley, around 2500BC to 1500BC. A bust of the King Priest excavated at Mohenjodaro shows a shawl — believed to be an Ajrakh—draped around his shoulders, which is decorated with a trefoil pattern (like a three-leafed clover) interspersed with small circles, the interiors of which are filled with a red pigment. The same trefoil pattern has been discovered in Mesopotamia, as well as on the royal couch of Tutankhamen. This pattern, which symbolises the unity of the gods of the Sun, water and earth, survives as the cloud pattern in the modern Ajrakh
Cultural Significance of Ajrakh
The people of Sindh have a deep reverence for Ajrakh. From birth to marriage, until death, Ajrakh celebrates all significant events of the life cycle. Ajrakh is worn as a turban, a shawl, spread as a bed-sheet or tablecloth and when worn out, it is recycled as a hammock for babies, cover for a bullock cart and most commonly used as a backing to patchwork quilts. It is used and reused till threadbare. It is worn by the wealthy as well as the poor — the colours, patterns and design-format remain the same, only the quality of the fabric is different.
Ajrakh Blocks (pors)
These are hand carved from the wood of Acacia Arabica trees. Several different blocks are used to give the characteristic repeated patterning. Making the blocks is a considerable challenge since the pattern has to synchronize perfectly with the whole of the Ajrakh as well as cover various areas against dye. Block makers (orporegars) use the simplest of tools, and carve each block in pairs that can register an exact inverted image on the other side.
The Original process of Ajrakh printing involved as many as 23 laborious steps!
Making of The Blocks
From the seasoned wood, a block is cut to the required size and sanded on a stone to get a leveled plane surface which is then checked out by the edge of a steel ruler.
The surface of the block is dipped in water and then n wari (dry, powdered clay) and rubbed against rohi (granite). With the friction, a whitish layer is formed on the surface of the block. A base line is drawn with the help of a steel ruler; a compass is then used to verify right angles so that a square is constructed accurately.
Diagonals are marked and the square is quartered and then further sixteenth. The pattern drawn on the paper is transferred by etching fine lines on the surface of the block.
These blocks are now made in Barmer itself but the carvers are not native. Most of them are from Farukabad, Uttar Pradesh. They have set up their homes in Barmer (near this village) for the sake of their profession.
The Traditional Craft Of Ajrakh Uses Only Natural Colors (Vegetable Dyes) For Its Making. The Usual Colors Of The Craft Are Red, Yellow, Blue And Black. However Green And Some Other Secondary Colors Are Also Used Now-A-Days. They Are Generally Made By Mixing The Usual Colors.
The Colors Being Made From All Natural Materials Are Harmless To The Workers In All Ways. Whereas The Chemical Ajrakh Printing Which Has Come Up In The Recent Past Uses Chemical Dyes Which Are Very Harmful To The Health Of The Workers.
Color Material Cost
Black Gurrh Usual Amount
Bajri Ka Aata
Iron Piece 12 Rs/Kg
• Fabric Used Is Generally Greige Cotton Fabric.(30s)
• Fabric Is Brought From Tripu
• Means Of Transportation Is Generally
• Cost Price Is Around
• The Fabric Is Brought And Washed On The Very First Day In Soda Ash To Remove Impurities.
• Then After Drying The Fabric It Is Again Washed In Harad.
Other Tools
A Wooden Table Is Used By The Workers To Place The Fabric For Printing. It Has Around 40-50 Layers Of Fabric On It So That It Becomes Easy For The Main Fabric To Absorb Color When It Is Printed. Babul Wood Is Used For The Making Of The Table As It Cheap. One Table Costs Around Rs. 300-400.
A Wooden Jaali Is Used In A Wooden Container Which Has The Resist Paste In It. It Helps The Thick Layer Of Fabric To Float Over The Paste So That The Block Picks Up Appropriate Amount Of Color.
A Needle Is Used To Carve Blocks. Thickness Of The Tip Of The Needle Depends On The Amount Of Intricacy Required In The Design
First Indigo Dyeing
Kunka Chekna
Kala Dutta
Meena and Watch
Steps Of Making Ajrakh:
Soda Ash Treatment
• 20 Number Of 5meater 30s Greige Cotton(100%) Fabric.
• (Fabric May Differ According To The Requirement But Cotton Is Mostly Used)
• Soda Ash
• Clean Water
From The Thaans Of Cotton Greige Fabric 20 Number Of Each 5mt Are Torn. These Fabrics Are Transferred To Huge Cemented Storage Where They Are Soaked In Soda Ash And Clean Water. This Is Done To Destarch The Fabric and Remove The Initial Impurities. Cloth Is Soaked In Soda Ash And Water For Around 14-15hours.
• Gondh – Glue Extracted From Tree.
• Chunna – Lime (Calcium Carbonate)
• Blocks
In A Mortar The Gondh Is Pounded Into Granules Then Dissolved In Water And Is Left To Soak Over Night. Meanwhile Chunna Is Soaked In Separately. Chunna Is The Main Resist The Whitening Powder, Which Helps To Ensure The Smooth Texture Of The Mixture, So It Does Not Crack And Make The Surface Impermeable. The Next Day Chunna Is Mixed With The Thickening Gondh.
This Mixture Is Then Transferred To A Container Which Is Covered With Layers Of Bamboo Sieve, Thick Cloth, And Thin Cotton Fabric.
This Provides Even And Required Amount Of The Mixture Over The Blocks In Order To Get Proper Design.
The Craftsman Thus Pound The Required Designed Blocks Over The Color And Prints On The Fabric. This Forms The First Outline Base Where Different Colored Dyes Are Filled.
After The Print, Craftsman Takes The Fabric And Lays It Down On The Sanded Ground In Open Air Under The Sun. He Covers It With Sand From The Edges In Order To Avoid Folding Or Flying Of The Fabric.
Bhichlana Is The Process of Indigo Wash.
The Dyed Fabric When Dried Is Taken For A Wash In Clean Water. The Craftsman Beats The Fabric Harshly, This Is Important As The Fabric Gives Out The Blue Color When In Contact With Water.
• Indigo Powder
Indigo Powder Is Mixed With Water And Stored. This Mixture Is Stored For Ages And Fresh Indigo Powder Is Added Constantly As Required. Fabric After All The Block Printing Is Now Ready For Dyeing. The First Dyeing Is In Indigo. The Fabric Is Folded Many Times; The Craftsman Wearing Cloves Dips The Entire Cloth Slowly Inside The Indigo Solution Waits For Few Seconds For The Cloth To Absorb The Dye Properly. He Takes It Out And Hands It To Other Craftsman Who Takes It For Drying In Open Air Under The Sun.
• Boiling Water
• Alizar
• Dhabri Ke Phul
The Craftsman Prepares A Bhatti For This Process. Over It Water Is Kept To Boil. Meanwhile Alizer Mixture Is Prepared. Alizer Brings Out The Red Color Of Imli Powder.
200grams Of Alizer Is Taken For 100meater Of Fabric. It Is Then Rapped Inside A Cotton Cloth And Immersed In 4-5 Cups Of Water.
The Cloth Acts As A Sieve And Allows The Alizer Powder To Mix Well In Water.
This Mixture Is Poured In The Boiling Water And Stirred Well. Fabric Is Dipped In It And Is Allowed To Soak The Color. After 15minutes Dhabri Flower Is Also Put In The Boiling Water.
Dhabri Flower Is Essential To Remove The Resist And Also Cleans The Fabric Of The Cow Dung Powder. The Fabric Is Kept In This Mixture For Over Half And Hour While The Water Boils Consecutively In Low Flame. The Craftsman Takes Out The Fabric And Let It Dry
Harrah Base
• 1kg Powdered Harrah
• 50 Gm Oil
• 100gm Water
Harrah Is A Fruit Which Is Powered To Give Yellow Color To The Fabric. This Is A Very Important Ingredient As This Forms The Base Of The Fabric And Oil Provides Proper Absorption Property. This Solution Also Removes Further Impurities.
Fabric Is Dipped In The Solution Of Harrah, Oil And Water. This Procedure Is Repeated Twice So That Every Portion Of The Fabric Absorbs The Solution Appropriately. The Fabric Is Then Put Inside A Machine Which Squeezes The Fabric And Drains Out The Water. This Fabric Is Carried And Beaten Harshly Twice On Stone By The Worker. This Is Done So That The Color Is Spread Evenly Throughout The Cloth. It Is Taken In The Sun To Dry.
Indigo Dye
Fabric Is Dyed In Indigo To Get Better Quality And Rich Color
Dip In Alum
After All The Process Of Block Printing And Dyeing The Fabric Is Dipped In Alum. This Makes The Color Stronger On The Fabric And Thus Increases The Quality. Fabric Is Washed Of The Alum And Kept For Drying.
Fabric Is Put In Boiling Water To Give The Final Finish, Remove The Extra Impurities And To Give A Smoother Effect.
• Multani Mitti
• Gondh
• Alum
Multani Mitti Is Crushed Into Powder; The Craftsman Then Dissolves This Powder In Water Over A Cloth Sieve In Order To Avoid Lumps And Softens It By Hand Till It Forms A Smooth Paste.
This Paste Is Mixed With Gondh To Provide Fasten Quality And Alum Which Acts As A Colorant To Make The Print Visible. This Mixture In Particular Is Called ‘Kiriyana’.
Kiriyana Is Poured Into A Vessel And The Bamboo Sieve Is Kept Over It. No Cloth Is Used Here As The Amount Of Color Required On The Blocks Is More To Get Thicker Print.
Jhibri Print Is Done Over The Black Outline That Is Over Kirchi Print. This Overprinting Is Done As Kiriyana Acts As Resist.
A Brighter White Color Is Resumed After Dying As Compared To The First Outline Print ‘Batana’. After The Print, Craftsman Keeps The Fabric For Drying In The Similar Way As Mentioned Above.
• Multani Mitti
• Turmeric
• Annar Powder
• Alum
• Gondh
The Five Ingredients Are Mixed Together. Turmeric And Annar Powder Provides Yellow Color; Alum And Gond Are The Resists. Khar Is The Third Color Fill Of Ajrak.
The Batana Outline Is Filled With Yellow Color According To The Design. Cow Dung Is Spread And Fabric Is Taken For Drying.
• Iron Rot
• Bajere Ka Aata
• Gurh
Iron Pieces Are Soaked In Water And Kept For Days To Rot. Meanwhile Bajere Ka Aata Is Mixed With Gurh And Kept Overnight.
The Rotted Iron Is Then Mixed With The Paste Of Gurh And Aata. This Mixture Is Put In The Container Layered With The Similar Materials.
Khirchi Print Is Done Over The White Base Print In Particular Places Which Forms The Required Design. Khirchi Print Only Defines The Outline Which Latter Is Filled With Black Color.
After The Print, Craftsman Keeps The Fabric For Drying In The Similar Way As Mentioned Above.
Kunka Chekna
• Imli Powder
• Alum
• Gondh
• Cow Dung Powder
Imli Powder, Alum And Gondh Are Mixed Together. Imli Provides Red Color And Alum And Gondh Acts As Resists. Kunka Chekna Is The Second Color Fill Of Ajrak. Blocks Of Kunka Chekna Are Separate As It Fills The Bale Design Of ‘Batana’ Print With Red Color.
Cow Dung Is Spread By The Craftsman Over The Print To Avoid Misprints. Fabric I Then Kept For Drying Under The Sun.
Kut Also Known As Kala Dutta
• Iron Rot
• Alum
• Gondh
• Cow Dung Powder
Iron Rot, Gondh And Alum Are Mixed Together. Iron Rot Provides The Black Color And Helps In Oxidation Which Further Darkens The Color. Alum And Gondh Acts As The Resist.
Kut Or Kala Dutta Is The First Color Filling Of Ajrak. This Print Fills Black Color To The Jhibri Outline Print.
The Craftsman After Finishing Each Frame Of Print Covers It With Dry Cow Dung Powder Which Sticks To The Wet Print.
As The Amount Of Mixture Of Color Used Is More The Powder Prevent Misprints. After The Print, Craftsman Keeps The Fabric For Dying Under The Sun.
Fabric Is Again Washed Harshly To Remove Dhabri Flower And To Let The Color Flow Off.
Meena Means Reapplication Of Resists Over The Fabric. Thus The Process Of Jhibri, Kut, Kunda Chekna And Kharh Block Prints Are Reapplied.
The Fabric Is Washed Two To Three Times Thoroughly With Clean Water. This Removes The Impurities And Cleans The Cloth Off Soda Ash.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kota Doria

Rajasthan is well known for the fine Kota Doria Muslin saris. Kota Doria as the name suggests is made in Kota city of Rajasthan. It is a type of cotton cloth that becomes special because of its weave. The weaving is done using pure cotton threads but the style is so varying that it makes the final cloth translucent and gives it cross pattern locally known as Khat.

It is traditional handloom from Kota in Rajasthan. This is the most open weave fabric woven in India. The weave is result of sufficient spacing between super fine warp and weft threads with slightly thick thread at regular counts to produce a very subtle check pattern. Also, the thicker threads makes the cloth strong and more durable. The thin fibers maintain its softness, delicacy and gives it translucency and gossamer appeal.
Kota Doria has always been a hot pick for the hot summer months in India. Its light and airy feeling makes it very comfortable and first choice for the hot summer days. Along with comfort, the softness and transparency makes this cotton cloth graceful and part of fashion. Sari is the most common wear made from Kota Doria, but now dress material and, Kurtas and other accessories are also hitting the market.
Kota saris were first made when weavers were brought to Kota (between 1707 and 1720) from the Deccan by Maharao Bhim Singh. The weaves originated in Mysore and surprisingly one could hardly find them now at Mysore. The workers settled there and passed down the art of weaving cotton in the open khat or check structure from generation to generation. Everything is done in the age old manner right from the setting of the patterns, to graph making, dyeing of the yarn and setting of the loom. Down South it is still called by name Kota Masurias.
Originally done in pure cotton, nowadays synthetic as well as silk threads are also woven along with cotton threads. This makes it cheaper and more durable. The traditional Kota Doria is found in white color only and one needs to get it dyed in different color. Single color dying, Shaded patterns, Bandhani pattern are common ones with new style coming up each day. Varieties as printed Kota Doria and silk embroidered borders has become very popular in last few years.
Bright colors like pomegranate red, purple, Bordeaux red, turquoise, lapis, turmeric yellow and saffron, besides the usual cream and gold are mostly demanded.. The range includes cloth embellished with gold thread and zari. The zari thread is woven or used for embroidery which makes this simple cotton very beautiful and festive. Heavily embroidered with silk threads is also used as party wear. The Kota Doria cloth has become an important include for summer collections done by various fashion designers. They have brought in accessories done in Kota, which include handbags, pouches and sashes embellished with Gotta Patti, Mukesh and Mirror work.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jamdani and other traditional Indian sarees

'Jamdani' is a heritage handloom products of Bengal handloom.
Word 'Jamdani' - derived from a "PERSION" word 'JAM' meaning a 'cup' and 'DANI' denotes the ‘container’.

The origin of the word Jamdani is uncertain. According to a popular version, it came from the Persian words jama (cloth) and dana (diapering). In other words Jamdani basically denotes diapered cloth. Another version holds that in Persian the word jam meaning flower and dani a vase or container.
The "Mughals" recognized this excellence, acknowledged its rarity. During the region of Emperor Jahangir and Aurangjeb, the manufacturer of finer Jamdani was a rare product and a royal monopoly . Trading accounts reveal how the Jamdani travelled to the courts of the Mughals in the 15th - 16th century period. For the Mughals it was fashioned into elaborate angarkhas (upper garment/shirt) worn by both men and women; it also travelled from Dhaka through Agra, to Bukhara, Samarkand and other parts of West Asia. After the "Mughals" Jamdanis were continued to develop under the patronage of 'Nawabs' Wajid Ali Shah of Tanda and Nawabs of Dacca (presently under Bangladesh)
The weavers of Dacca were expert in Jamdani known as 'Daccai Jamdani' for producing mainly sarees and dress materials. While the weavers of "Tanda" and "Varanasi" in Awadh were experts in weaving of 'Awadh Jamdani' for producing mainly sarees, dress materials, handkerchiefs, Ornas, caps, table cover etc.
The earliest mention of Jamdani and its development as an industry is to be found in Kautilya'sArthashashtra (book of economics) wherein it is stated that this fine cloth used to be made in Bengal andPundra (parts of modern Bangladesh). Jamdani is also mentioned in the book of Periplus of the Eritrean Sea and in the accounts of Arab, Chinese and Italian travelers and traders.
The base fabric for Jamdani is unbleached cotton yarn and the design is woven using bleached cotton yarns so that a light-and-dark effect is created. Alexander the Great in 327 B.C mentions “beautiful printed cottons” in India. It is believed that the erstwhile Roman emperors paid fabulous sums for the prized Indian cotton.
The dominant feature of the jamdani is its magnificent design which is essentially Persian in spirit. The method of weaving resembles tapestry work in which small shuttles of coloured, gold or silver threads, are passed through the weft. The jamdani dexterously combines intricate surface designs with delicate floral sprays. When the surface is covered with superb diagonally striped floral sprays, the sari is called terchha. The anchal (the portion that goes over and beyond the shoulder) is often decorated with dangling, tassel like corner motifs, known as jhalar.

The most coveted design is known as the panna hazaar (literally: a thousand emeralds) in which the floral pattern is highlighted with flowers interlaced like jewels by means of gold and silver thread. The kalka(paisley), whose origin may be traced to the painted manuscripts of the Mughal period, has emerged as a highly popular pattern. Yet another popular pattern in jamdani is the phulwar, usually worked on pure black, blue black, grey or off-white background colours.
The traditional nilambari, dyed with indigo, or designs such as toradar (literally: a
bunch or bouquet) preserved in weaving families over generations are now being reproduced. The butis (motifs) across the warp, the paar (border) and anchal (the portion that goes over and beyond the shoulder) are woven by using separate bobbins of yarn for each colour. The fine bobbins are made from tamarind wood or bamboo. After completion the cloth is washed and starched.
Jamdani, because of its intricate patterns, has always been a highly expensive product. According to historical accounts, Jamdanis custom made for the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century cost over thirty pounds; evidently the jamdani fabric was essentially meant only for the affluent nobility, in those days.
The region in and around Dhaka (now in Bangladesh) became synonymous with this wonder fabric.

Baluchari saree

The most well-known Bengal Silk sari, which carry its legendary name, is the Baluchari sari - a product of exquisite design and fabulous weaving technique. Produced in the town of Baluchar in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, Baluchari sarees are nation and worldwide popular because of their artistic and unique design. 'Baluchari' is one of the most popular weaving techniques of Bengal. It is a popular ninteenth centruy figured silk saree. It is elaborately woven brocade known to have been made during 1850-1900 in the village surrounding Baluchar (Murshidabad Distt.)

Fabric in Baluchari Sari
Silk weaving of Baluchar continues to be an important landmark of Bengal's handloom tradition. Baluchari sarees are woven in Bengal silks which are much acclaimed in the world over, since ancient times. Like silk, cotton baluchari sarees are also woven in a fascinating and exquisite range. The cloth is very fine and transparent with a soft drape. These are created on draw looms, which contains a complicated mechanism for weaving multi-warp and multi-weft figured textiles.
Material is used as silk. The dimensions for a Baluchar Sari are in Cm (length=558, width=112, ends per cm=38, picks per cm =35)
Design and Colours
Baluchar Sarees are similar in appearance and in weaving techniques to many Banaras Brocades although they never contain Zari threads, only silk. They have intricate supplementary weft or warp borders and end pieces created in untwisted silk threads of colors that contrast with the ground, with elaborate floral borders. The figures are commonly involved in such activities as smoking a hooka, riding a train, or smelling a flower, and are often dressed in Mughal style or European cloths, the grounds of these saris are generally dark with purple, dark brown and red being common, while the wide range of colors found in the supplementary threads are always light, such as white, yellow orange of pink
The various designs depicting narrative folktales in the pallu of the sarees are as:
• A woman riding a horse holding a rose in one hand with her plait flying behind her.
• Pleasure boat, with two lovebirds on top.
• Traditional muslim court scenes.
• Women smoking hookah.
• Puranic tales or legends of Ramayana and Mahabharata are also depicted on the classic baluchari sarees etc.

The most distinctive feature of Baluchari sarees is their elaborate borders and pallu.

Paithani sarees

Among the most beautiful sarees made in India figures the Paithani sarees, woven exclusively in the Paithan region of the western state of Maharashtra. The gold embroidered Paithani sarees depict the blend of the aesthetic with the symbolic. The Rig Veda mentions a golden, woven fabric and the Greek records mention gorgeous Paithani fabrics from the well-known, ancient trading centre, Pratisthan or Paithan (in Maharashtra).

The Peshwas (political rulers of Maharashtra) in the 18th century had a special love for Paithani textiles and it is believed that Madhavrao Peshwa is believed to have asked for a huge supply of dupattas dotted with asavali prints, in shades of red, green, saffron, pomegranate and pink.
Interestingly, the Nizam of erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad too is believed to have nurtured a penchant for the Paithanis, which made him undertake several trips to the obscure town of Paithan to secure the fabric for personal use. His daughter-in-law, Niloufer, was instrumental in introducing new motifs to the designs on the borders as well as the pallav (the part that goes over and beyond the shoulders) designs.
A heavily brocaded Paithani sari will take anywhere from six months to one and a half years to get fully ready. Infact, even a plain and simple sari takes atleast one month for being completed. This is the main reason why the saree commands such a high price in the market. The pallu as well as the border of the saree is especially heavily embellished, with the help of the gold thread. The Maharashtrian bride is incomplete without a Paithani sari.
Specialty of Paithani sari
A pattan (Paithani) is a gold and silk sari. In the revival of Paithani weaving, the production was oriented towards export requirements, while saris were produced only for sophisticated buyers. Paithani evolved from a cotton base to a silk base. Silk was used in weft designs and in the borders, whereas cotton was used in the body of the fabric. Present day Paithani has no trace of cotton.
A) Sari
1) Due to proximity to the Ajanta caves, the influence of the Buddhist paintings can be seen in the woven Paithani motifs
2) The Kamal or lotus flower
3) The Asawalli (flowering vines), became very popular during the Peshwa's period
4) The Bangadi Mor, peacock in bangle

5) The Tota-Maina
6) The Humarparinda, peasant bird
7) The Narali motif, very common
8) Small motifs like circles, stars, kuyri, rui phool, kalas pakhhli, chandrakor, clusters of 3 leaves, were very common for the body of the sari.
B) Pallu

1) Muniya, a kind of parrot used in borders and always found in green colour with an occasional red touch at the mouth
2) Panja, a geometrical flower-like motif, most often outlined in red
3) Barwa, 12 strands of a ladder; 3 strands on each side
4) Laher, design is done in the centre to strengthen the zari
5) Muthada, a geometrical design
6) Asawali, a flower pot with a flowering plant
7) Mor, a peacocTraditional colours.
Traditional Colours:
The dominant traditional colours of vegetable dyes included:
Pophali - yellow
Neeligunji - sky blue
Motiya - peach pink
Brinjal - purple
Pearl pink
Peacock - blue/green
Yellowish green
Kusumbi - violet red
Pasila - red and green
Gujri - black and white
Mirani - black and red

Manufacturing processes
A) Loom
It took approximately 1 day to set the silk threads on the loom. "Tansal" is used to put the "wagi". The "pavda" works like the paddle to speed up the weaving. The "jhatka" is used to push the "kandi" from one side to the other. "Pushthe" is used in designing the border of Paithani in which it is punched according to design application. "Pagey" are tied to the loom. The threads are then passed through "fani".
B) Weaving technique of Paithani saree:
It is a revival of hundreds of years tradition in weaving .But so far as its weaving technique is to filling the picks will not move directly from one end of saree to the other end, width wise, but the weft yarn returns being interlaced or interlocked with the threads of different weft colors. This procedure of returning of thread has no Indian technical name but still it is called brocade weaving.
Paithani saris are silks in which there is no extra weft forming figures. The figuring weave was obtained by a plain tapestry technique. There are three techniques of weaving. Split tapestry weave - the simplest weave where two weft threads are woven up to adjacent warp threads and then reversed. The warp threads are then cut and retied to a different colour.
Interlocking method - two wefts are interlocked with each other where the colour change is required. The figuring weft is made of a number of coloured threads, weaving plain with warp threads and interlocked on either side with the grounds weft threads are invariably gold threads which interlock with the figure weft threads, thus forming the figure. This system of interlocking weaves, known as kadiyal, is done so that there are no extra floats on the back of the motif thus making the design nearly reversible.
Dobe-tailing method - two threads go around the same warp, one above the other, creating a dobe-tailing or tooth-comb effect. Weaving could take between 18 to 24 months, depending upon the complexity of the design. Today there are many weavers who are working for the revival of this treasured weave.
Borders and the pallu
In the days of Peshwas, the borders and the pallu were made of pure gold mixed with copper to give it strength. The proportion was 1 kg of gold to 1 tola of copper. The combination was spun into a fine wire called the zari. In recent times, zari is made of silver, coated with gold plating. The borders are created with interlocked weft technique either with coloured silk or zari. In the border woven with a zari, ground coloured silk patterns are added as supplementary weft inlay against the zari usually in the form of flower or a creeping vine.
Two types of border are the Narali and the Pankha.
Even if a very good weaver has woven the main body, a master weaver is needed for the intricate inlay border paths. The borders and the pallu are woven in zari regardless of the colour of the sari.
Types of Paithani
Paithani can be classified by three criteria: motifs, weaving, and colours.
Classification by motif:
Bangadi Mor - the word bangadi means bangle and mor means peacock. So bangadi mor means a peacock in a bangle or in a bangle shape. The motif is woven onto the pallu, the design sometimes having a single dancing peacock. The saris using this motif are very expensive because of the design.
Munia brocade - The word munia means parrot. Parrots are woven on the pallu as well as in border. Parrots are always in leaf green colour. The parrots in silk are also called tota-maina.
Lotus brocade - lotus motifs are used in pallu and sometimes on the border. The lotus motif consists of 7-8 colours.
Classification by colour:

Kalichandrakala - pure black sari with red border.
Raghu - parrot green coloured sari.
Shirodak - pure white sari
Classification by Motif
• Bangadi Mor (Peacock in a bangle or in a bangle shape, woven in pallu)

• Munia brocade (Parrots woven on the pallu as well as in border)
• Lotus brocade (Lotus motifs used in pallu and maybe border)
Classification by Weaving
• Kadiyal border sari (Warp and weft of the border are of the same color, body has different colors for warp and weft)
• Kad/Ekdhoti (Single shuttle used for weaving of weft and colors of warp yarn different from that of weft yarn)
Classification by Color

• Kalichandrakala (Black sari with red border)
• Raghu (Parrot sari )
• Shirodak (Pure white sari)
Patola is an exquisite and wonderfully intricate silk textile of India, believed to have originated in the 7th Century AD. Three major Rajput clans the Chavadas (746 - 942AD), Solankis (942-1244 AD) and Vaghelas (1244 - 1304AD) — ruled from here. The Solanki rule is considered as the golden age; prosperity peaked during the reign of King Kumarpal. Patan became a centre of patola weaving during his reign (1143-1173AD).

Patola silk textiles are produced by resist dyeing of warp and weft threads before weaving, a complex process known as double ikat which is also practiced in other parts of India and abroad. However, Patola of Patan(Gujarat) is unique in its geometric floral and figurative patterns executed with precision of design planning, and meticulously accurate weaving alignment which results in precise outline of the patterns. This requires immense visualization and coordination skills. It is a marvel of weaving and precision, with its many coloured warp and weft matching perfectly at their designated places to create intricate motifs.The practitioners of this craft are the Salvis, who get their name from ‘Sal’ (Sanskrit for loom) and “Vi” (the rosewood sword used in a Patola loom).Patola saris continue to remain highly prized as festive clothing in Gujarat. The widespread opinion that they represent the traditional wedding sari, however, is not quite correct. The mothers of the couple and other older ladies will often appear in the colourful glow of these silks as a sign of their prosperity, religious feeling and traditional way of life. Patola are a matter of prestige. They are carefully preserved family heirlooms and are often presented as bridal gifts. A bridegroom may wear one over his shoulders as a lucky charm, or use it to drape his horse on his ride to the wedding ceremony.In some Hindu and Jain communities, patola play a major role in the simanta oragharni ceremony, which is celebrated in the seventh month of pregnancy. This phenomenon demonstrates that patola are auspicious and protect their wearer from sickness and misfortune.
Material- Traditionally pure silk and natural dyes were used.Since about last 100 years, tradition had given way to the use of fast to bleach and easy to dye chemical colours (dyes). Therefore the use of natural dyes in Patola is discontinued. But since last twenty years again the importance to use of vegetable dyes became the consideration of its eco-friendliness and to maintain the tradition of old natural dyes in Patola.
The re-introduced, vegetable materials are: Turmeric, Marigold Flower, Onion Skin, Pomegranate rinds, Madder, Lac, Catechu, Cochineal, Indigo along with different mordant like alum, tinchloride, ferrous sulphate, copper sulphate, Tennic Acid, Oxalic Acid, Potassium Dichromate etc.Dewelling on the fast colour of the patola, a Gujarat poet wrote; "Padi patole bhat faatey pan phite nahin" meaning the design laid down in the patola may be torn, but it shall never fade.
Warp and weft silk threads are tied separately with cotton thread on the portions already marked out in conformity with the proposed design in the fabric. This tied portion is meant to remain unexposed to the colour while dyeing. United portion which has absorbed one colour, may be tied while dyeing in another colour. Tyeing untying, retying and dyeing in different shades are the main features of this process.
Creating design by tyeing knots on warp and weft
After completion of dyeing work of warps & wefts, the threads of the warp of different repeats of a pattern are put together in a sequence on the loom, so that the design becomes visible. The threads of wefts are wound on to bobbins and kept in the bamboo shuttle for weaving process. The patola is woven on a primitive hand operated harness loom made out of rosewood and bamboo strips. The loom lies at a slant, with the left side being lower than the right side. The bamboo shuttle is made to move to and fro through warp shades. Each weft thread is thoroughly examined and matched with each part of the warp design pattern while weaving.
The tension of the warp threads are removed by the help of needle after every time weaving of 8" to 10" of fabric. Patola weaving is a highly accurate just a positioning of warp and weft of similar colour to obtain perfect design and harmony.The process is labour intensive, time consuming and requires high order of skill and dexterity.
Tyeing knots again after previous dyeing
It takes three to four months to prepare tie- dyed design on warp and weft threads for one sari of 6 yards length by 48" width. Two Salvis (weavers) working together weave just about 8" to 9" a day. It takes 40 to 50 days to weave a sari. Thus 4 to 5 persons take a periods of 5 to 6 months to complete a sari depending on the intricacy of the design.

Traditional Patola Loom
The patola was traditionally woven in a sari length of 5 to 9 yards by 45" to 54" width.The range now extends to include tablecloth borders scarves, handkerchiefs
Design Elements:
Essentially the design in a patola are based on traditional motifs called "Bhat". These designs include "narikunj", "paan", "phulwadi", "chowkdi", "raas", "chhabdi", "choktha", "navratana", "paanchphul", "sarvariya", "laheriya"etc. Flowers, animals, birds and human figures form the basic designs

Maheshwari sarees

The beautiful Maheshwari sarees are among the most popular sarees produced in India. These sarees are in demand not only in India, but also in international markets.
History of the Maheshwari saree
These sarees are largely produced in the town of Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh. The origin of the Maheshwari sarees dates back to the 18th century, when the state of Indore in Madhya Pradesh was ruled by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar.
According to legends, Queen Ahilyabai ordered craftsmen from Surat and Malwa to design special 9-yard sarees to be gifted to royal guests and relatives. The sarees that were produced by these craftsmen became popular as Maheshwari sarees. It is believed that Queen Ahilyabai herself created the design of the first saree. These sarees were originally worn by the ladies of royal status, but nowadays, they are available in both national and international markets. .

The designs in the Maheshwari sarees were inspired by the detailing on the walls of the Fort of Maheshwar. The popular designs used in these sarees, which were inspired from the designs on the fort walls are the ‘Chatai’ pattern that is the ‘Mat’ pattern, the ‘Chameli ka phool’ pattern that is the ‘Chameli flower’ pattern, the ‘Eent’ pattern that is the ‘Brick’ pattern as well as the ‘Heera’ pattern that is the ‘Diamond’ pattern. These designs are found on Maheshwari sarees even today.

Material used

Originally, the Maheshwari saree was made of pure silk. Then in course of time, these sarees began to be made in pure cotton and with a mixture of silk and cotton (silk yarn in the warp and cotton in the weft). Nowadays, wool is also being used in the production of Maheshwari sarees. These sarees are extremely light in weight and present a sharp contrast to the Kanchipuram sarees of South India.


Maheshwari sarees were initially made only in dark shades like red, maroon, black, purple and green. Today, these sarees are also being made in lighter shades and gold and silver threads are being made use of. In local dialect, the most popular colors used in Maheshwari sarees are ‘Angoori’ (grape green), ‘Dalimbi’ (deep pink), ‘Gul Bakshi’ (magenta), ‘Jaamla’ (purple), ‘Tapkeer’ (deep brown), ‘Aamrak’ (golden), ‘Rani’ (deep pink), ‘Dhaani’ (green) and ‘Kaashi’ (light purple). Usually, vegetable dyes are used in the preparation of these sarees.


These sarees usually have a plain body or have stripes or checks of different varieties. Some of these varieties are highly popular and are known by different names. The ‘Chandrakala’ and the ‘Baingani Chandrakala’ are examples of plain Maheshwari sarees, while the ‘Chandratara’, the ‘Beli’ and the ‘Parbi’ are examples of striped and checked ones.

Special features

The unique feature of a Maheshwari saree is its reversible border. The border is designed in such a way that both sides of the saree can be worn. This is locally known as ‘Bugdi’.
The cotton that is used in these sarees is brought in from Coimbatore in South India, while the silk is from Bangalore and the wool is imported from Australia. The processing of the raw material is undertaken in Kolkata and the saree is woven by the women of Maheshwar.
An original Maheshwari saree can cost anywhere between Rs. 1500 to Rs. 5000.

Banaras brocade
As in the History of the India Banaras is known since regveda about 1500 year 2000 year BC and also a period of Ramayana and Mahabharata come to know identical reference about the fame of Banarasi Sari and Fabrics as known Hiranya Vastra (Pitamber Vastra). In the ancient time Banaras was famous for the weaving of cotton sari and dress materials, but slowly switched over to silk weaving, during the Mughal period around 14th century weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold & Silver threads was the speciality of Banaras.

The weaving craft of Banaras

Banaras, or Varanasi or Kashi is one of the rich weaving craft Centre of India, famous for Brocade saris and allover dress material. Exclusive varieties of the saris are Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tishu, and Butidar which are made of silk warp and silk weft, on plain/satian ground base, brocaded with extra weft patterns in different layouts introducing Buties, Bells, creepers, Buttas in ground, border and Anchal for getting glamours appearance.
As in the History of the India Banaras is known since regveda about 1500 year 2000 year BC and also a period of Ramayana and Mahabharata come to know identical reference about the fame of Banarasi Sari and Fabrics as known Hiranya Vastra (Pitamber Vastra
In the ancient time Banaras was famous for the weaving of cotton sari and dress materials, but slowly switched over to silk weaving, during the Mughal period around 14th century weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold & Silver threads was the speciality of Banaras.

Brocade refer to those textiles where in patterns are created in weaving by transfixing or thrusting the pattern-thread between the warp. In regular weaving the weft thread passes over and under the warp thread regularly. But when brocade designs in gold, silver silk or cotton threads are to be woven, special threads are transfixed in between by skipping the passage of the regular weft over a certain number of warp threads (depending upon the pattern) and by regularizing the skipping by means of pre-arranged heddles for each type of patterning. There may be several sets of heddles so arranged that on different occasions, they raise and depress irregular number of threads in turn, as required by the exigencies of the pattern.
Zari-brocades-When gold and silver threads are use along with or without silk-threads, thrust either as special weft or warp to create glittering raised ornamentation. We have the Zari brocade kind of fabrics. When we talk of gold or silver threads. It is to be under stood that the gold, threads are actually only silver threads with gold polish and that these threads are obtained by closely winding extremely fine gold or silver wire around a silk thread.

According to Sir George Watt, When the gold and silver threads were used so densely that the ground was hardly visible, the material was khinkhab proper and was too heavy for clothing, it was therefore used for trappings, hangings and furnishing. Only that material in which the Zari patterns were scattered was true brocade. This was used for clothing
Banarasi Silk Jamdani

The silk Jamdani, a technical variety of brocade or the 'figured muslin' ,traditionally woven in Banaras may be considered to be one of the finest products to come out of the Banarasi loom. Here silk fabric is brocaded with cotton and rarely with zari threads. Jamdani is woven by transfixing the pattern thread between a varying number of warp threads in proportion to the size of the designed then throwing the shuttle to pass the regular weft. By repeating this process, where in the size and placing of the cut-thread is in accordance with the character of the pattern, the Jamdani weaver produces arrange of intricate designs.

Some of the traditional motifs of Jamdani included Chameli (Jasmine), Panna hazar (Thousand emeralds) , Genda buti (Marigold flower), Pan buti (leaf form), Tircha (diagonally striped) etc. The most attractive design feature of the Jamdani sari was konia or a corner-motif having a floral mango buta.
It has own special character of (URTU) Binding in the figured designs on ground fabrics using extra weft designs thread dampatch technique for the or namentation of the sari. It is silk x silk base fabrics or-namented with extra looking and technique of weaving in karhuwan.
Jangala Sari
Brocade weavers of Banares have often endeavored to add a sense of gaiety and festivity by brocading patterns in colorful silk threads amidst the usual gold and silver motifs ;of the brocade convention. The present sari is an example in which muga silk motifs have been in laid. Jangala wildly scrolling and spreading vegetation motif is among the eldest in Banaras brocades. This old rose sari is embellished with beautifully contrasted gold-creepers and silver flowers of the Jangala motif. The borders have brocaded running creepers in Muga silk and gold and silver-Zari threads. The end panel is a combination of motifs of the borders and condensed Jangala of the field. Muga silk brocading enhances the beauty of the sari while reducing the cost. All over Jal Jangla design to get the stylish work of the saris and also used Mina Work for the decoration of the fabrics. The exclusive design sari has time taking skilled work, costly fabrics are widely accepted during the wedding occasions.
Jamawar Tanchoi Sari
Using a technique similar to that of brocade, weavers of Banaras weave saris using colorful extra weft silk yarn for patterning . This varieties known as Tanchoi. This maroon-colored sari in satin weave is brocaded with elaborate motifs from the Jamawar shawl tradition from Kashmir, the characteristic feature of which was paisley motif, often elaborated into a maze which would look kateidos-copic in character. The field has a densely spread minute diaper of Jamawar style paisley. The end panel has large motifs of multiple paisley forms-one growing out of the other. The border, as well as the cross-borders of the end panel, have miniature paisley creepers. Tanchoi fabric has remarkable fame in the India as well as all over in the world widely acceptable to all kind of the people.
Tissu Sari
The renowned Zari brocade weavers of Banaras has evolved a technique of weaving tissue material which looked like golden cloth. By running Zari in weft a combination of Zari and silk in extra-weft (pattern thread) and silk in warp, the weave of this sari has densely patterned with golden lotuses floating in a glimmering pond. The 'drops of water' are created by cut work technique. The borders and the end panel have a diaper of diamond patterns enclosed by a border of running paisley motifs. Tissue saris are most popular as wedding saris among the affluent. Tissue sari has glazed, shining character due to the use of real gold Zari/Silver Zari in weft on silk work ground are ornamented with the particulars traditional design such as Jangla Butidar, Shikargah Minadar etc.

Butidar Sari

The most striking feature of this dark blue silken sari is that it is brocaded with pattern threads of gold, silver and silk. Due to darker shade of gold and lighter of silver this variety of patterning in brocade is conventionally known as Ganga-Jamuna, indicating the confluence of these two river whose waters are believed to be dark and light receptively. The end panel has a row of arches, in each of which a bouquet of flowers is placed. A slightly smaller and variegated bouquet is diapered all over the field.

The butidar sari is a rich kind of the Banaras sari in high traditional pattern and motif of the design locally popularized such as Angoor Bail, Gojar Bail, Luttar Bail, Khulta bail, Baluchar bail, Mehrab bail, Doller butti,Ashraffi Butti, Latiffa Butti, Reshem Butti Jhummar Butti,Jhari Butta, Kalma Butti,Patti Butti, Lichhi Butti, Latiffa Butta, Kairy Kalanga Thakka Anchal, Mehrab Anchal, Baluchar Butta with the use of real gold and silver Jari and Katan silk in the weft.


Chanderi, a township having a very rich & glorious historical heritage and past is situated in the hills of Vindhyachal range having a population of 30,000. This township located close to Betwa river and which presently forms part of District Ashok Nagar (previously Guna) in the State of Madhya Pradesh, India. It had flourished a focal point of Central India with intensive economic activity. Phonetically Chanderi is linked with the Chandelas. Chanderi was first settled and fortified in the 11th Century by the Pratihara king Kirtipal.
The foundation of this township goes back to the Chandella King, Kirtivarma, Prince of Mahoba in the years 1060 – 1100 AD. The place of the city is also related to the name of “Chandella”. Historically speaking Chanderi, Chandrapuram, Chandragiri etc. are well known names in Indian topography. The first certain reference to Chanderi in a written source is found in Barani who relates the successful attack of Ghiyas al Din Balban against the city in 1251 AD. However, the Muslims did not settle in Chanderi before its Conquest in 1305 AD by Ala al Din Khilji. It is in 1305 AD around 20,000 people from a place called “Lakhnoti” in Bengal (presently in Dhaka) migrated to Chanderi as followers of Maulana Majibuddin Usuf and after migration these people started the production of Muslin/Malmal. Chanderi remained in the hands of Bundelas until 1811. The Craftsmanship and the weaving work were continued by all the Muslim rulers of the City. In the Government Gazetteer Chanderi has been mentioned as long famous city for the manufacture of delicate Muslins, an industry that is still carried on. The cloth/fabric manufactured here is of unusual fineness while the colored silk and gold borders are of great beauty. A common saying refers to this Industry:-
Shahr Chanderi mominwara , Tiria raj, khasam panihara
In Chanderi town ,a city of weavers ,The wives rule while husbands carry water

1. Procurement of raw – material: the master weaver purchases the raw material from the yarn dealers who in turn get the silk from Karnataka. The silk yarn used is largely imported Chinese or Korean silk. The cotton yarn is procured from places like Coimbatore in southern India, and Jaipur and is usually pre-dyed. The yarn dealers of cotton also often get customized colors dyed as per the requirement of the master weaver. However the minimum quantity required for such dyeing is almost 25 kgs. or 10 hanks.
2. The dyeing in Chanderi is undertaken mainly for the silk yarn and by dyers many of whom have been in this skill since long. The silk yarn dying process takes about 45 to 60 minutes depending on the color.
3. After dyeing the yarn is loosened or wound on reels or swiftons. This is a prelude to the preparation of the warp and weft.
4. For the weft the yarn is wound on pirns with the help of a charkha and this activity is usually performed by the members of weavers family. Warping is a specialized process, which is performed by the warpers. The warp yarns are wound on bobbins, which are arranged across a wooden frame called reel. The yarns from these reels pass through a reed to be wound around a vertical drum. A warper in good times would warp 4 or 5 warps for 12 sarees each.
5. The next step is the task of passing the warp through the reed and the healds. The warp threads are then joined to the old war threads with a deft twist of the hand of the women folk. This process takes approx 3-4 days.
6. Before the actual weaving begins the weaver sets the design of the border and the pallav. The respective ends of the design are tied to the a vertical harness called jala and the process is called jala tyeing. This process takes anywhere between 3-4 days depending on the complexity of the design. The figured effects are produced with the help of an extra weft and the number of tillis (or the no of weft yarns will determine the time taken). That is higher the number more will be the time taken. However the time reduces if the number of ply in the weft yarn is more and consequently the weaver can move faster and cover more ground. However in this case the output is less fine. Similarly higher the reed count more is the production time.
7. The weaving is performed by one or two very skilled weavers of the same family. The looms being used are largely traditional pit looms with throw shuttle.
8. The Chanderi fabric does not require any post loom process and is cut off the loom to be packed and sold. It is packed as per the requirement of the buyer and of the trader by way of customized packing methods.

The Chanderi Fabric is known for the centuries for its transparency, Buttis and sheer texture

Since the inception of the Chanderi fabric and primarily ladies Sarees, the butiis on the Fabric are hand-woven and absolutely woven on Handloom. There is no use of any other process of manufacturing and it is Gold coated, Silver coated and as well as Copper coated. Now a days Tested Zari Butti are also common and in use. The Tested Zari is made with the use of Synthetic yarn. The Buttis are made by use of Needles. Number of Needles used depends upon the number of Buttis and its size. For each Butti/Butta separate Needles are used. All the weavers involved in this process are experts in it since they have been doing this for long time. The most popular and traditional kind of Butti is Asharfi Butti, which is in shape of Asharfi (woven in pure gold and silver Zari and now a day it is also woven in Tested Zari). This kind of Butti was in use in past only by the Royal families because it is very expensive as genuine Gold and Silver is used. The Butti which is big is size is popularly called as Butta with all other specifications. More so and it is there ancestral business and trade. The weavers involved in this process are long standing in trade and are well experienced. The handmade Buttis are at Chanderi permanent in its nature and its existence as well, inter laced and its original shape and structure always remain the same even after its long use. Whereas in comparison the Buttis created with the use of Power loom are not permanent and losses its shape and structure after some time. The thread used is of fine quality and even after long use its thread never comes out and its original shape and appearance is retained forever. It has no comparison anywhere else in the country or for that reasons in whole of the world. . It is easily distinguishable from the Buttis made outside Chanderi even with necked eyes because of its manner and process of manufacture and in this manner it is exclusive and this itself is requisite ingredient for legal protection and for exclusive recognition. Initially the use of this quality and products has been a matter of use by the Royal families, which for a long time is used by the common man.

The Chanderi Fabric is also well known for its transparency and sheer texture. The transparency is a unique feature, which is not commonly or found in any of the textile products all over the country. The transparency in Chanderi Fabric products is the consequence of Single Flature quality of yarn used. Flature yarn is the quality of yarn when the Glue of the raw yarn is not taken out. The none- degumming of the raw yearn gives shine and transparency to the finished fabric. This quality is not found in any other Fabric of the country and it is exclusive to the Chanderi Fabric. The special transparent yarn is used both in warp and weft of different varieties and configurations. The transparent yarn is cotton and as well as silk also.

The silk yarn used of 2/2's, 2/100's and 16/18 denier. The term Denier connotes the fineness of yarn. The cotton uses in Chanderi Fabric is 2/120's, 2/100's (plain yarn) and 2/120 and 2/100 mercerized yarns. The yarn used in Chanderi fabric is of high quality and extra fine. Because of non-degumming of the raw yarn, the finished fabric produced is extremely transparent and which in consequence result into sheer texture.
Over the last centuries Chanderi has evolved as a center for excellence for weaving gold embellished fabrics mainly, sarees, for the erstwhile royalty and elite.
Chanderi has been originally producing three kinds of fabric:
1. Pure silk – where the warp as well as the weft is woven in 13/15 and 16/18 denier silk.
2. Chanderi cotton – where the warp and weft are 120's to 200's cotton. The Chanderi muslins have been known to be superior to Dacca muslins because of the softness and feel; this was traditionally achieved through the use of koli kanda a local wild onion which was used for sizing. Today this quality has been discontinued.
3. Silk Cotton – the weaver deftly combines 13/15-denier warp with 100s/120s cotton in the weft.