Bagh is a unique style of block printing on handloom fabrics, the name coming from Bagh village of Madhya Pradesh, India. The initial art came from another region, brought by a wandering clan that came and settled there. The present form developed over time due to an enthusiastic weaver family.
Bagh was practiced by some families in the village and the print subjects were mainly geometrical prints and floral compositions. There was a lull in between that led to many of these traditional practitioners deserting the art and being lured away to the production of synthetic fabrics that also came up at that time. It was due to the efforts of one family, that the Bagh achieved its present form through the practice of this art and experimenting with designs.
In a brave move one of the weavers radically altered the concept, the process and the look of these printed fabrics and brought a turnaround to the seemingly doomed art. He happened to get 200 year and 300 year old blocks which were based on traditional motifs that had been inspired by the 1500 year old cave paintings of nearby regions. The Nariyal zaal, ghevar zaal motifs (Designs from Taj Mahal paintings), and others like Saj, Dakmandwa, Chameli or Jasmine flower, Maithir or the mushroom, leheriya or jurvaria (designs of small dots on a field) were experimented as block print designs. He also had blocks made based on the Jaali work found in the Tajmahal and local forts. Initially he made use of Red and Black colors from alum and corroded iron and discovered green and yellow from vegetable dyes.
Till then it was an art of drawing and designs on paper. With his transfer of the block designs to fabrics he revolutionized the art.
Never before had such beautiful, exotic and captivating designs been seen on fabrics and by the use of these fast colors he got Bagh Prints to be noticed and accepted as a new form of adorning fabrics. His family of wife, four sons and a grandson all joined him in his quest for experimentation and novelty. In order to prove his point that handloom fabrics were well-suited for such prints, he printed 1230 different blocks on a single bed cover with imagination and logic. This fetched him the National Award and then on appreciation nationwide for the Bagh Printed sarees. Today Bagh side by side incorporates modern day designs, involving geometrical patterns, captivating bootis, floral scapes and what not, to keep in the race.