Block Printing- Engraving Stories through patterns

Block Printing- Engraving Stories through patterns

Block printing is a process of printing patterns on fabric by the means of carved wooden blocks. Knows as the earliest way of adoring the look of a textile. Block printing method is ruling in the textile world for years now. Being an oar of occupation for many artisans around the country, making it still breathing proudly in our nation. With the myriad of designs and colors- block printing, is like a magic spell, reviving the soul of any fabric, style, or outfit.

History of Block printing

Wooden Block printing is widely popular and used throughout East India and originally originated in China. The earliest fragments of woodblock printing are found in Han Dynasty before 220 AD. It is said that the Chinese were the first to use the process to print words and texts. In Europe, the same process of block printing came about four hundred years after the development of movable type technology of printing and typography. Though few of the remarkable traces of this art are also found in Egypt.

The frontispiece of the Diamond Sutra from the Tang Dynasty, China. The world’s earliest dated printed book (AD 868) done with the help of woodblock printing.

However, the art of block printing is also very closed to Japan. Undoubtedly because of the famous Japanese art form ukiyo-e. Flourished in the early 17th-19th century describe urban lifestyle through woodblock prints and painting. In a 1661 novel - Tales of the floating world, the writer Asai Ryoi writes-

“Living only for the moment, savoring the moon, the snow, the cherry blossoms, and the maple leaves, singing songs, drinking sake, and diverting oneself just in floating, unconcerned by the prospect of imminent poverty, buoyant and carefree, like a gourd carried along with the river current: this is what we call ukiyo.” 

‘Dragon Kimono,’ Japanese woodblock 

Block Printing Traces in India

India also breathes in it a rich heritage of woodblock printing. In early as 327 BCE, Alexander the Great, praise the textile culture of India by saying- “Beautiful printed cotton”.The first traces of block printing is said to find in Indus Valley Civilisation around 3500 to 1300 BC. Though in India it found its praise originally in the Rajasthan, during the medieval times. The era was highly influenced by processes like spinning, weaving, printing, and dyeing due to royal processions. Today the art is beautifully flourishing in the states Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Punjab.

WoodBlock India, (Around 1900)

The Process

At first, the design has been created and simulated usually inspired by natural motifs like flowers, birds, leaves, animals, or other plants. The craftsmen trace the same design on a wooden block. Then carving the blocks, which usually take several weeks to months depending on the size and design of the pattern.

The fabric is then dyed in a natural color and laid properly on a straight table. The fabric is pinned on all the sides and the process of transferring the design on the fabric took place. The printed fabric is then hanged in the sun to dry down nicely.

An artistic and intricate designed block printed fabric require fine hand skill and lots of patience.

Different Technique Use

1-Direct Printing Method: In this technique, the fabric is first bleached and then dye. Then the ongoing process begins with printing the motifs onto the fabric through carved wooden blocks

2-Resist Printing Method: The method required- covering a few of the fabric areas with clay or resin to protect them from the dye. The dye is then spread into the areas that are covered through cracks, giving them a variation of textures. Then on that fabric block printing is done.

3-Discharge Printing method: First the fabric dyed, then with the help of certain chemicals the dye is removed from the portions that need to be designed from different colors or patterns.

Type of Block Printing in India

1- Bagh-  A famous handcrafted technique from Madhya Pradesh. The name is given after the region called Bagh district, where this art flourished the most. Bagh block printing involves the primary use of natural colors.

2-Kalamkari- A block printing technique from Andhra Pradesh, where the artisans paint stories and tales of Hindu methodology.


3-Ajrak-With the use of geometric shapes and patterns, Ajrak block printing is a unique style of printing method from the western states of India.

4-Dabru-Originated in Rajasthan,Dabru is an elegant mud resist hand block printing technique. A time-consuming printing method involving a good amount of hard labor.


5-Sanganeri-A kind of block printing, established by the artisans in Rajasthan. Usually done to glorify the beauty of home decor items as well as clothing products.

6-Bagru-Yet another intricate work from the cultural city, Jaipur Rajasthan. Over a hundred years old, this method is still religiously practiced and handed down traditionally by families in Rajasthan.

Chidiyaa, as a brand has its soul connected with the wooden block printing technique. Most of our designs inspire by the beauty of nature and encapsulated on the fabric through the wooden blocks. Through our merchandise, we tend to represent the rich cultural heritage of our land. The variety of colors borrowed by the hues of nature amidst designs that are enriched in art and tradition. Here is a rundown of our most special picks from the site.

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