Rajasthan has a long and distinguished traditon of printing with finely carved wooden blocks. This method, though labourious, is actually quite simple and merely calls for precision. The cloth is laid out flat on a table or bench and a freshly dipped block is handpressed on to the fabric to form a continuous, interlocking pattern.
The block carries dye if the original colour of the cloth has to be preserved. If the cloth has to be dyed, the block is used to apply an impermeable resist - a material such as clay, resin or wax - to demarcate the pattern that is not to be
coloured. Later, when the cloth is dyed, the pattern emerges in reverse.
Traditonally, block-printing relied on the use of natural dyes and pigments, but now synthetic dyes have gained currency as they are cheaper. Block Printing is widely practiced at Sanganer and Bagru.
A special process of tie-and dye creates the stylized wave pattern, or 'laharia', symbolizing water or the monsoon rain. Turbans and 'odhnis' with 'laharia' patterns are generally used on festive occasions, especially Teej.
Bandhani is a complicated and skilled work of ornamenting the cloth with combination of colours. Jaipur and Jodhpur, the main
centres of this speciality have produced many bandhej workers who excel in their jobs.
The traditional handicrafts of Rajasthan survived and developed because they were regarded as material symbols of
Rajasthan's unique cultural ethos. With the initiative of the government, these crafts were survived with the setting up of the All India Handicrafts Board at New Delhi and the Rajasthan Small Scale Industries Corporation at
Jaipur. Almost every craft is practiced and marketed in Rajasthan and the tradition has been so nurtured by the craftsmen that their products win the acclaim and appreciation from all.
The floral motifs favoured by the printers of Bagru and Sanganer are Persian in origin, though
Sanganeri designs are more sophisticated. They usually have a white or pale background decorated with colorful twigs or sprays. The not-so-fine
Bagru prints were initially meant for peasants and had a light brown background. Today, however, Bagru isn't the poor second cousin any more.