I appreciate the interest and feedback from my/our readers on my previous posts (Link: Here & Here) on block printing. This time I am writing about Sanganeri Block Printing – another popular block printing process. The Sanganeri word originated from Sanganer, a small village in Rajasthan where it all started. The Sanganeri fabric is in vogue in home décor furnishings and fashion apparels. I personally admire block-printed fabrics because there seem to be a perfect style sense in those imperfect prints. This form of block printing takes a great deal of patience. Apart from the high degree of skill required for both the placement of motifs and the application of pressure. Hand-block printing is an inseparable part of cultural heritage of Rajasthan.
History of Sanganer:
Sanganer is a town situated a few mile south-east of Jaipur city. Prior to the 17th century, there is no mention of Sanganer as a centre of printing. Towards the end of the 17th century this art form developed there. Many craftsmen from neighbouring state Gujarat migrated due to wars with Emperor Aurangzeb and the repeated invasions by the Marathas. By the end of the 18th century Sanganer fully developed into a handcrafted textile industry. It is popular for its Calico printed bed covers, quilts and saris. In Calico printing, the outlines are printed first and then the colours are filled in. Its bold patterns and colours are highly preferred. Another popular technique is Doo Rookhi printing in which artists print on both sides of the cloth.
Typically, a Sanganeri motif is a combination of beautiful floral designs. It includes a blend of flowers, buds and leaves or other forms like a keri (mango), pan (betel leaf), katar (dagger), or jhumka (ear-ring). The flower motifs are usually stylized sunflowers, narcissuses, roses, and other flowers of luxuriant foliage like daturas, rudrakshas, and arkas. On Sanganeri ‘chintz’ (printed cloth) usually, yellow, green blue (with different tones) are used as the background. It is also renowned for its small decorative and delicate floral patterns, called, ‘boota-booties’ which is being printed on fine cotton and silk. The finesse of the Sanganeri floral imprints that adorn the fabrics have a characteristic appeal to them. The detailing and precision that goes into the printing is done are reflective of the expertise of its artisans.Subtlety in flowers-petal designs, curves and delicacy are the prime specialties of Sanganer prints.
Original Sanganeri impression work is normally done by hand. The fabric is prepared first, then laid out and pinned onto printing tables covered with sand and water. Printing wooden blocks with raised grooves of exquisite designs are laced with colours. They are then pressed upon the previously marked fabric, wherever the motifs have to be placed, to balance the running design. Some of these design casts are very old while some are more recent.
The principal items printed here include sarees, dupattas, salwar-kameez, cushion covers, 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. Dyeing of Sanganeri printed cloth is by use of natural colours (vegetable colours).
I spoke to Manisha Monga (Dart Studio) whose Sanganeri Summer Collection is a treat for the eyes. Manisha says, “For my summer/16 collection, I wanted to work on mul. Mul is lighter than cotton and very soft and apt for summers. Once mul was finalized, I was clear, I wanted sanganeri hand block print on mul. Sanganeri block print and mul is a deadly combination. This collection is very effeminate and hence I have mostly used floral motifs. I have done a lot of maxi dresses and angrakhas, which accentuate the feminine beauty. The whole collection is easy breezy and gives a very relaxed look. D’ART STUDIO embodies comfort and exquisiteness.
My Sanganeri collection is for women of today who is on the go. Someone who is free spirited and takes her own decisions. She is someone who loves to travel and never shy away from trying new things.”
Manisha’s Sanganeri collection will be soon available on marketstreat. Watch out this space for more updates.
Threat to the craft:
The situation in Sanganer is critical at present and many working units have closed down, primarily due to rising pollution levels there. Reasons for the high pollution levels could be many: one of them could be the addition of printing units. It also has paper mills and fabric-dyeing units. The livelihood of Sanganeri print artisans depend on this tradition. Their absence and disinterest would mean an erasure of Sanganer’s endearing, authentic and ancient print flavour. More support from the government and patrons could not only help control pollution, but it would also mean survival for the artisans and their art.
Hope that you liked reading about Sanganeri Block Printing. Keep reading and supporting us as we bring in crafts, traditions and art forms from across the country. Share your feedback in the comments section below.