One of the most prominent Rajasthani textile traditions, Sanganeri handprints are a charismatic interplay of skill, technique, practices and patterns amongst the larger cultural medley of Rajasthan.
The unbroken chain of Sanganer’s textile legacy is evident in its hustle-bustle as a major hub of handblock printing till today.
An assortment of vividly dyed fabrics hung out to dry in narrow lanes and corners form the quintessential vision of the Sanganer township situated at a 13km vicinity of Jaipur.
Sanganer serves as a better case for a sociological study of the livelihood and culture of the Chippa community, the dhobis; the rangrez and the historic political upheavals of 16th-17th Century Indian subcontinent upon which its rise as a pristine textile hub is premised upon.
Rooted and functional inevitably on a community spearheaded work scheme, the master printers, block carvers, dyers, dhobiwalas and designers operate on a historic sociological matrix of emotions, passion, aspirations and livelihoods.
A typical paraphernalia of a handblock printing regime in full swing seen at Sanganer encompasses low-lying printing tables, rustic looking assortment of blocks , rolling trolleys holding trays of dyes both vegetable and synthetic and an array of utilities meeting the bewilderment of a non-native passerby.
Sometimes, for completion of one design, many blocks are used as each contains a different element of a particular pattern.
Two techniques of printing – Calico Printing and Do Rookhi (Two-Sided) – are employed at Sanganer.
The Calico style entails firstly printing the outline, and then filling in the colour. In Do Rookhi, printing is done on both sides of the fabric. Post sun-drying, the fabric is washed and dried again and becomes ready to be used for stitching.
Predominantly patterned in Floral and nature-inspired imagery, the motifs used in Sanganeri called as buttas or buttis entailing traditional flowers,paisleys,leaves and birds inspired by the Mughal designs owing to political bonhomie of the court of Jaipur with the Mughals.
The Sanganeri block-printing received the Geographical Indication tag in 2010. Amidst a slew of challenges posed by commercial viability of screen printing, tedious acquisition of natural dyes, & the unregulated discharge of chemical dyes in water bodies nearby; the Sanganeri tradition of textiles sees a ray of hope in dedicated efforts of institutions like Gulabchand Prints which have contributed to sustaining our textile legacy from Rajasthan and across India.
(Authored by – Vandana Bhatia )