If you live in India the kind of print that is seen most often on textiles is block printing. The designs have drawn their inspiration from the diverse cultural communities that have existed in India over the centuries.
Do you know when the history of block printed fabrics, dates back to? The Indus Valley civilization i.e. around 3500 to 1300 BC. From the Harappan period onwards, the export of textiles, especially cotton is confirmed. A piece of fabric, showing Indus seal was found in Iraq.
Some more trivia – during the Mohenjo Daro site excavation, needles, spindles, cotton fibres dyed with Madder (a red dye or pigment obtained from the root of the madder plant) were excavated. This proves that Harappan artists were familiar with Mordants (dye fixatives). Can you imagine how far back this technique dates?
Indian block print cotton fragments were excavated at various sites in Egypt, at Fustant near Cairo. A steatite figurine of a bearded man wearing a Mantle with a trefoil design also indicates that the Harappans used decorated textiles
The Golden Era Of the Mughals
When the Mughals ruled India centuries ago, they encouraged and changed the style of printing. They moved from abstract forms to floral motifs. The first six Mughal emperors were largely responsible for this art form of boota printing. The Mughal kings brought the finest Karigars (craftspeople) from Persia and Central Asia to introduce new techniques. But when the English came to India in the 1700s textiles and printing became expensive and eventually led to the decline of this art form.
The floral designs and motifs that form a large part of block printing today are still heavily influenced by Mughal architecture. Look at the beautiful monuments like the Taj Mahal or the Red Fort and you can see the influences quite clearly.
In current-day India, in Rajasthan, you can still find chippas, a caste of printers who continue day after day to stamp lengths of cotton fabric with colour using hand-carved woodblocks. Techniques of the actual art are passed down from generation to generation, trying to keep this age-old technique alive.
Block printing is done by hand, and like anything that is hand made, there are always some imperfections which add to the beauty of the craft.
At Skyy, we have highlighted this craft in our products – adapting and remaking it for the 21st century. This form of art has been a source of inspiration in my designs.
We have beautiful pieces like the Amer cushions and runners in a rainbow of colours; the Sariska, Rang and Aina cushion covers are also inspired by the Mughal bootas that ruled during the golden age of the Mughal dynasty. The Skyy Clover Quilts come in three colours – Navy blue, Light green and Sky blue. Hand block printed in Jaipur these contemporary quilts made with an age-old craft add a touch of lived-in elegance to any bedroom.
Shop for these classic yet contemporary pieces here and add a touch of royalty to your homes!