• Nikita

Block Prints of Bagh

"As you drive into the village of Bagh, you would see the rock-cut architectural marvel of the Bagh caves that lie on the banks of river Bagh. The murals in the nine caves are inspiration for designs that are translated onto wooden blocks and then printed on textiles that are the identity of Bagh"


four men  drying sarees for bloack printing in india
The process of Bagh block printing

My subconscious love for textiles began as a kid, watching my mother wear block prints every day, from indigo block prints to the browns and madders on Venkatagiri. When I got to travel to Bagh as an extension to my graduation project, a couple of hours from Maheshwar, I was beyond excited to see the process of the clothes my mother wore.


Bagh prints originated about 200 years ago in Madhya Pradesh and is a cluster that now comprises three Khatri brother families who use only madder and black dyes to print on fabric, which is treated in the Bagh River. Though now it is a tiny cluster compared to the other block printing settlements, the textile craft is exquisite. When I walked into Ismail Sulemanji Khatri's workshop, what I saw beyond their printing tables was a dark room full of blocks that had webs and dust. The son said those were old blocks from past generations, more than 100 years ago, which were not relevant to the market today.

Master Artisan block printing

Age old blocks that were dusted and used for the collection


For my second collection, I spent days in that webbed room, picked out blocks that spoke to me, and convinced the seasoned master to give this naive girl a chance. Those blocks were dusted, washed, and mixed with the newer ‘relevant’ blocks in experimental layouts. The result was an intermix of the age-old with fresh eyes and the mastery of the artisans.

Collection co-created in Bagh for my graduation project


 

References:

To learn more about the process of Bagh block printing: http://baghprint.co.in/process/


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