BAGRU – The land of eternal dyes and prints!
In the secret lanes of Jaipur, lies a small village named Bagru. 30 kilometers away from the pink city – this village takes pride in its centuries-old block printing and natural dyeing techniques. My sister visited the place last weekend with Fabindia on a familiarizing trip, to deep dive into this history and tell us the most magical stories of block printing, the people and their work of art! 🙂
Bagru is one of the special destinations that India has; in a century where the westernization is happening at an unprecedented speed, this village has adhered to its roots of traditional wooden prints and dyeing which is done by carving the wood into the desired design, and then enriching it by printing it on the chosen colour to the fabric.
My sister was told that earlier in the days, artisans from Bagru used to travel to the metro cities and put up an exhibition of their art – outfits, home decor items etc. These artisans belong to a community called the “Chippa” community. The word itself means – “Chaapna” or printing. The entire community practices artistic traditions with wooden blocks and dyes which are later produced into beautiful products.
There was a time when Bagru was a sparsely populated village with little or no means of steady income. Families had to struggle to meet two meals and live in a house with solid shelter. It’s with the consistency in the community’s work that big brands like Fabindia have managed to do two commendable things in the area –
- Recognition and exposure of this little village with infinite potential to the world – Bagru is a source of production of many renowned fashion brands like Fabindia that continue to invest in the place by providing training and employment opportunities for the community but at the same time giving them a sense of independence and pride in their daily work.
- Creating a sustainable employment model that cuts across generations. The community to practice this art is not the first generation but the fourth! Imagine that kind of dedication and passion, which flows from one soul to another throughout a village! ❤
We will take you through the entire process in the next blog (stay tuned 😉 ) but before that its time to define the undefinable – 400 years of Bagru’s traditional Dabu printing and first dye ever known to humankind – Indigo.
In the ancient days, our neighbours – China practiced the art of hand block printing. Over the years this technique made its way to India and was first practiced in Rajasthan which till today remains the most renowned producer of hand block printed fabrics used for creating outfits, home decor etc.
Dabu printing loosely translates into this – imagine taking a clay and sticking it on one region of the cloth where you don’t want to paint or the colors to seep in! Well, that’s what Dabu printing is all about. The mud-resist printing enables the artisans to dye an entire cloth into their desired color and at the same time keep parts of the cloth under the block-prints which then altogether result in becoming a block printed colored outfit. Mud resist printing is a special variation, the origins of which can be traced to about 675 A.D.
Don’t underestimate the power of a common dye – Indigo
After reading this, I am sure the next time you see an Indigo piece of cloth – you are surely going to feel the empathy and the powerful roots of this dye!
India is believed to be one of the oldest destinations where Indigo originated and was then exported to Europe. Since centuries, India continues to practice the process of natural dyeing thereby creating a cost effective and an eco-friendly process for generations to follow. It was the association of Indian roots and Greek and Roman markets, that led to the names ”indikon” and “indicum”, which eventually became “indigo” for the British.
Today, Indigo dyed clothes and home decor material is considered to be of great aesthetic value. The plant of Indigo continues to be the base of centuries old dyes for colour blue along with dried covers of pomegranate for the colour red and turmeric for yellow.
While writing this blog all I could feel is how fortunate my sister has been to witness it first hand. It’s a blessing to know about the kind of potential that comes from rural areas of India that have made ethnic fashion a worldwide trend! 🙂
Villages like Bagru have practiced and turned these ancient Indian traditions of printing and dyeing into a timeless art! I feel very proud of homegrown brands like Fabindia who have helped villages like Bagru and others to receive the well-deserved honour, respect, and dignity on the world map. 🙂
India – you beauty, you never fail to surprise us with your arts and traditions! As years gone by, this village will always be remembered by my sister and our blog! A huge shout out to the artisans and Fabindia for working in such perfect harmony and bringing the best of what ethnic fashion has to offer to our nearby stores! 🙂
Stay tuned as we take you through the process of making an indigo dyed and Dabu printed saree in our next blog!!! 🙂 It’s the one my sister is wearing in this picture!! ❤
Till then, click here to add some indigo collection to your wardrobe just like we did! 😉
Hey there 🙂
Have you landed on our blog for the first time? Well, in that case, welcome aboard and thanks a ton for reading these beautiful Indian tales of ethnic fashion! 😀
We are two sisters who are in love with ethnic and indo-contemporary fashion and what better way than to write about it! 🙂
So here’s lots of “desi” love coming your way! Stay tuned for more! 🙂 ❤
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Ankita and Suvarna