Prints are an absolute necessity for any wardrobe on the planet. They can be used as the show stopper or a support role in just about any outfit that one can think to put together. Patterns can help to liven up any outfit, no matter what color pallet is paired with. The exquisite prints of India are world-famous for their fine quality, variety and richness. The Indian Handloom industry, inspired from nature, ancient architecture of temples & forts, rural lifestyle and abstract patterns, these prints speak a thousand words to the beholder.

The prints of India have undergone a serious transformation over the years, but they have maintained their originality and individuality to a great extent. The handloom of India still holds on to the flag of tradition, and each state in India has its own particular prints that portray the culture of that particular region. This week we dedicate our article to native printing styles in India that needs to be preserved, promoted and appreciated.

Ikat – Blurred Beauty

Dyed and binded into threads before the cloth is weaved, the technique of Ikat uniquely uses the process of resist dying. Practiced in Gujarat and Telangana, this craft uses individual yarns or bundles of yarns that are bound with a tight wrapping in the chosen design and then dyed to create the desired pattern. Called the ‘Poetry of the Loom’ due to the tedious & intricate weaving process, Ikat is usually done on silk or cotton fabrics and has an intentional bleed and features blurry lines, which is its key identification factor.

Bandhani – Knot. Dye. Reveal

This is a print produced by a type of tie and dye technique creating small dots all over the fabric. The fabric is tied tightly in several places with grains inside – it is dipped in the dye solution, lighter colors first and dark colors later. Bright colors like yellow, purple, red, magenta, green are used. Small dots, Circles, diamonds and many other shapes are obtained this way. Bandhani is native to Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Bagh Print – Everything Organic

Practiced in Madhya Pradesh, Bagh printing is a traditional block printing technique that only uses natural colours. In this printing technique, the cotton and silk cloth is subject to treatment with the blend of corroded iron fillings, alum and alizarin. The dye is mixed with a vegetable gum to form a paste used in this printing. The inspirations for designs & patterns in this handicraft include nature (jasmines & mushrooms), architecture, landscapes and geometrical figures.

Batik Print – A Story behind Wax

A wax-resist dyeing technique that is used to decorate textiles, Batik is a complex dyeing process that creates beautiful, intricate as well as shaded designs can be printed on the fabric using this technique. The process uses dye-resistant wax to create elaborate patterns and designs and the wax is then washed to reveal the batik pattern or the process is repeated to create multiple colours.

Kalamkari – The Magic of Painting with a Pen

Involving 23 tedious steps of dyeing, bleaching, hand painting, block printing, starching, cleaning and more, Kalamkari is an ancient style of hand painting done on cotton or silk fabric with a tamarind pen and using natural dyes. One of the most awe-inspiring prints, the technique is inspired from the episodes or stories drawn by the musicians, artists and storytellers in the divine kingdoms of India. From flowers, peacocks and paisleys to characters from the Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, Kalamkari is primarily adorned by handloom sarees.

Ajrak – A Blue Love Story

Ajrakh is a form of block printing. Mostly dominated by dyes in the colors of black, Indigo, green, crimson red, and yellow background, symmetrical patterns with interspersed unprinted sparkling white and black, usually as an outline motifs. As many as 20-30 different steps maybe involved in creating an Ajrakh printed fabric – A very labor intensive printing process indeed.

Varak Gold & Silver Leaf Printing – A Rare Royalty

The quintessential and rich times of our country can be traced through Varak printing style. A traditional form of printing, also known as ‘Chandi Ki Chhapai’ in rural India, this is a delicate way of embellishing clothes or fabrics that uses varaks made by flattening gold or silver into a thin paper like consistency. Today Varak work is mostly seen on rich Chanderi sarees and dupattas created by some of the finest craftsmen in India.

Patola – An Expensive Weave

Arising from the Patan region of Gujarat, Patola is a type of weave that can be done on cotton, silk, or blended fabrics. It is one of the most expensive weaves as the weave is very complicated. Dating back to the 12th century, it was once the preferred option for the royalty.

These are some of the few globally known Indian prints each distinctive in their own style and beauty. We will be sharing a few more famous ones in our next segment, so keep reading for more…


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