Hand block prints are all the rage this year with traditional Indian prints making a comeback in fashion and home décor!
Regardless of millennial trends, hand block prints are one of those ethnic art forms that have a timeless beauty.
Read on to find out about the origin, technique and the long journey this art form has travelled through to never go out of style!
Hand block printing is an age-old craft that dates back to around 5oo years. It is the earliest record of hand block printing is from the Indus Valley Civilization.
Later, the technique was passed down through generations and the art of wooden block printing and dyeing cotton became highly popular in many regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Rajasthan and Gujarat grew into massive commercial centres for the trade of block-printed products. Printing textiles for royal robes, floor coverings, bed linens, and ornamental wall hangings were the most common uses for the wooden blocks.
However, the Mughal era came to be known as the golden era of this artform. Hand block printing was patronized by the entire Mughal dynasty and thrived under the Mughal rule. Karkhanas, or imperial workshops, gathered the best karigars (craftsmen and artisans) under royal patronage. Karigars from Persia and Central Asia were summoned to teach new techniques.
The Mughals era of block printing is known for its signature Mughal floral which depict arrays of native flowers. These prints are still utilised in Jaipur fabrics today.
This ancient manual technique involves a meticulous symphony of the block, the dye and the artists' steady hands.
Hand-carved wooden blocks are dipped into dyes and used to stamp colours on lengths of cotton fabrics.
Each new pattern or motif requires a wooden block which has to be hand-carved from scratch with intricate and stunning patterns that range from bold florals to exquisite paisleys that are designed on paper first and then carved.
This process is followed by dipping them into dyes and printing designs onto fabrics with them.
After the hand block printing process is completed, the fabric is sun-dried for 3 to 5 days which helps to set the colour on the fabric. This fabric is then rinsed to check for colour bleeding and to remove excess colour from the cloth before being sent for curing, which entails getting the fabric pressed and the print fixed on the fabric.
Today, India has become one of the world's major producers and exporters of block printed fabric, with block printing centres mostly in Gujarat and Rajasthan, but also in Punjab, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh.
Get Your Hands onto These Gorgeous Floral Block Prints
ExclusiveLane’s ‘The Emperor’s Flowers’ collection is a collection inspired by the revolutionary floral ornamented art and architecture of the father-son duo – Jehangir and Shah-Jahan. The zenith of Mughal architecture bloomed under Shah Jahan’s rule which was coined ‘the Golden Age of Mughal architecture.’ He took after his father’s love of art and architecture and continued the legacy with massive royal gardens and awe-striking monuments. From the stunning mausoleum ‘Taj Mahal’ to the numerous gardens and floral paintings they patronized, floral motifs have exquisitely adorned and brought to life countless monuments and art. Depicting blooming poppies, marigolds, larkspur and a medley of many magnificent blossoms, these Mughal florals immortalize the grandeur of the bygone Mughal era.
‘The Emperor’s Flowers’ collection features an assortment of bedcovers, table runners, table mats and travel organizers that sings an ode to the ancient art of hand block printing. Each piece has been made from pure cotton and masterfully hand block printed in vibrant pastel hues by skilled artisans. Depicting gorgeous blooming flowers and vines in pretty pastels, the collection exudes splendour fit for Mughal royalty. These pieces are exquisite must-haves to add versatile and elegant elements to your home spaces and bask in the fragrances of timeless flowers.