Whenever tourists come to India, especially who are foreigners realize the importance of handmade articles. As during their visits to different monuments, they can see vendors selling jewellery, trendy Indian cotton fabrics by the yard, shawls, rugs and even furniture being made at that juncture. They can see craftsmen making portraits, painting, and shawls and if you visit the villages of Rajasthan, you can see teams of the local people doing block printing on plain fabrics.
In Rajasthan, Chhipa technique is used for traditional Indian block print, the common elements are mud resistance or exonerate or wax resistance method. Although these days modern procedures like screen printing are in practise but still, this old method is in practise. The Chhipas passed their skill to younger generations, because of which the expertise remains even today.
The exquisiteness of the original Indian block print fabric by the yard is heavily dependent on water, thus commercially printing is conducted nearby water body in places like Jodhpur, Sanganer, Bagru, Akola, Barmer etc. With the time, block printing has been developed in various designs and styles. The villagers of Sanganer have become resource of fine blocks cutting and block prints. For more than 5 centuries Sanganeri prints have proliferated, they got popular in India between 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. The Sanganeri calico prints became one of the chief export items of East India Company during that time.
Throughout the wars of marathas and mughals, many printers drifted from Gujarat to Rajasthan towards the end of the 17th century. Under the imperial support during 18th century beautiful Indian block print fabric industry was expanded in Sanganer.
Dyeing of printed cloth is done with natural elements like vegetable colours because of which finished clothes emit pleasing aroma.
It is renowned for its Calico saris, bed sheets and quilts. Calico prints comprise of outlines that are printed first and then the colours are filled inside them, usually floral. The printing takes place constantly in transverse rows with bold colours. Doo Rookhi is a well-known technique, in which artists print on both sides of the cloth. In sanganeri prints, subtle floral sprig are prevalent.
Sanganer town is renowned all over the world due to its colourful block print textiles and handmade paper. Today at least 315 micro, small and medium size units of block printing operate at Sanganer. Numbers of artisans engaged is 1800 to 3000, out of which 1200 families only source of earning are these units. Besides this, above 3000 people indirectly generate revenue through this business by providing raw materials, sales , production, designing for making garments, packaging, transportation and exportation. More than 25% of the town’s residents either directly or indirectly are dependent on Sanganeri print Industries for their livelihood.
The habitual block makers and dyers settled from Punjab and Sindh to Sanganer. Almost every ‘Chhipa’ family resident in the town is involved in the process of dyeing, washing and printing, while the printers are principally Hindus, while dyers and block makers are Muslims.
The Saraswati River water that flow genially through Sanganer, was acknowledged for its extraordinary quality that brought out brilliance on the naturally dyed fabric.