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Sanganeri Influences in Born Pattern for block Print Suits and Kurtas


Every design speaks for itself. And every design has a story behind it. Today, we will take a look at one of the most popular kinds of block prints that we commonly come across on block print kurta sets and try to understand the motifs and the story behind them

The difference in patterns across block prints

Block printing is practised across India. It is an artform that has reached its pinnacle in the Indian subcontinent across ages. Block prints are one of the most sought after ethnic prints in the world today and it is its rich history and culture that has helped it to survive the changing winds of time. What is interesting about them is that the patterns vary from place to place. For example, a block print pattern from Bagru, Rajasthan is bound to be different from designs being developed in Sanganer in Rajasthan.

Why does this happen?

Each and every block print artisan, like any other artist, takes inspiration from their natural surroundings. The climate, living conditions and readily available resources play a large role in determining the life of the people of one particular region and that finds a reflection in the art they produce. Keeping this in mind, you will see that each region has an artform and style unique to its own. So, the next time you are picking up a block print suit set from the shelves you know that it has a story of its own.

 

Understanding block prints from Sanganeri

Nestled in a corner of the vibrant state of Rajasthan is Sanganer. Not too far from Jaipur, every household of Sanganer resonates with artistic brilliance; an art that has been passed down from generation to generation. Almost every other person in this place is an artist in their own right, meticulously and sincerely keeping alive an art form which is a generational pride.

 

Arrival of block printing in Sanganer

Art has always been a confluence of influences. The Indian subcontinent has always been a precious landmark in the map of the world. Rich in natural resources and a diverse climatic condition, India has been the home to many dreams. Foreign invaders looked at this landmass as a place of possibilities and opportunities. Thus, our history is laced with invasions from outsiders. In the bid to settle and mingle with the local masses, cultural exchanges happened at a very deep rooted level, resulting in a vibrant culture of influences, which India calls its own today. Just like foreign invaders, indigenous people from different parts of the country too moved from place to place. 

It was a band of local artisans from Gujarat, who carried with them the knowledge of printing, who travelled to and settled in Sanganer. They are ones who introduced a distinct style of block printing, which with time has come to be known as Sanganeri block printing. This small village in Rajasthan, proved to be ideal for this type of printing to flourish mainly because of one reason - water. 

Compared to parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan, Sanganer had enough water resources, which is a crucial component in making dyes. As this group settled and flourished, their block printing artform too began to gather strength.

 

A tale of resilience

The Sanganeri block printing style continued to spread throughout the states with the Royals developing a special affinity towards the opulence and elegance it brought with it. However, it faced stiff resistance when machine made prints and textiles surfaced in the Indian subcontinent with the coming of the British colonizers. It was a tough time for the artisans who found it difficult to sustain themselves. However, they were not ready to let go of this carefully nourished generational wealth. They continued to hone the craft and kept going at it strong. Today, the block print cotton suits that dominate a significant part of the ethnic fashion scene is due to the strong will and spirit of resilience that these artisans had shown in the face of resistance.

 

How are these block prints developed?

Designing the block

Like every other style of block printing, this one too starts off with making the blocks by carving wood. These blocks are locally known as bunta. Every design on the buntas is crafted by hand. This is indeed quite a laborious process and depending on the intricacy and size of the block, the artisans take their time. Small blocks can be done as soon as an hour by trained hands, whereas a large block with very detailed motifs can take more than months to be carved.

Picking the colours

The best part about block prints are the colours. These are all natural dyes, which makes it one of the most environmentally friendly artforms that we have. Different fruits, roots, and vegetables are used to make these dyes. For example, for shade of black, pomegranate is the fruit of choice. For red, madder roots are used. This dye extraction process is a very treasured technique which is practised in various households in India for various purposes.

What do the prints say?

Now comes the most interesting part. The designs and patterns that are carved into the blocks showcase the life of Sanganer. You will find motifs consisting of flora, fauna and even remnants of geometrical patterns. There is a typical style in which the blocks are laid out. There is one motif in the middle and is surrounded by other complimentary patterns. Each pattern is placed side by side with precision to create an overall pattern that is aesthetically magnificent to look at. No wonder the Maharajas of Jaipur were great patrons of this art form and it has been decking the royals of Rajasthan since the 16th century. 

If one is to look at a Sanganeri print, there is one distinct pattern that will come to surface. It is known as ‘buti’. Small motifs are placed one after the other for a beautiful pattern to emerge from this. This is a process that takes time and patience to be developed and hence is a treasured style. 

Block printing is an art that has been developed by the skill, labour and love of local artisans. Diversity which rules the Indian DNA is something that finds itself embedded in different types of block prints that are there. At Kahva, it is this diversity that we hold close to our hearts. 

So, next time you buy cotton kurta sets online of Sanganeri prints, you now know the rich history behind it.