Hand-block printing is an inseparable part of cultural heritage of Rajasthan. There are two types of block printing famous in the state of Rajasthan namely Sanganeri (printed on white background) and Bagru (printed on black and red background).
Sanganeri block printing is named after Sanganer, a town near Jaipur. Already located at the prime location, Sanganer was greatly benefited when in 1727 Maharaja Jai Singh moved the capital from Amber (Amer) in the Aravalli foothills to Jaipur on the plain below. As the population grew commercial areas become increasingly congested and craftsmen spilled outside of the confining city walls. Sanganer offered open space, freely available running water and a supportive community of rangrez and dhobias. As production increased, a slow migration occurred. Today many of the chhippa families living in Sanganer are their descendants.
However, the tradition of hand block printing suffered with the augment of industrialization and increasing population. Since, block printing is done by hands and is a slow process it failed to meet the increasing demands. Modern day Sanganer faces challenges by uniting as a community. Under the leadership of Brij Ballabh Udaiwal, a fourth generation chhippa, they resurrected the Calico Printers Co-operative Society, established in 1943 by Maharajah Man Singh II.
“We want to preserve our heritage and produce old textiles again. There is still demand for this cloth but we don’t have an infrastructure. Printers in their fifties are available and ready to go. People recognize the beauty of these older fabrics…. they are softer and more elegant.” – Brij Ballabh Udaiwal, owner of Shilpi Textiles.
Thanks to Brij’s tenacity, the Co-operative showroom is open and a group washing facility now operates along the riverbed after disappearing in the monsoon nearly thirty years ago. Day after day printers once again spread their cloth in the sunlight. Sanganer prints are recognizable by their pure and true white background. This is the sign of true hard work.
Sanganer is popular for its Calico printed bed covers, quilts and saris. In Calico Printing, the outlines are printed first, and then the colour is filled in. The bold patterns and colours are highly preferred. Another popular technique is Doo Rookhi Printing in which artists print on both sides of the cloth.
The Jaipur city has expanded so much that Sanganer is now considered part of the city.