Evolution of Block Printing Motifs

Motifs found in block printing draw from the 17th century reign of the Mughal Empire. These motifs, which can still be seen today, are mostly floral, vegetal and animal figures such as elephants and peacocks. When the art of block printing migrated from Gujarat to Rajasthan and eventually to West Bengal, a wider variety of traditional intricate motifs and colours were introduced.


Their prints have ethnic floral patterns made from natural dyes. The eco-friendly nature of this printing technique has received wide acclaim worldwide because of the use of traditional vegetable dyes for printing. Bed covers are the most commonly produced item by this community.

Different forms of block printing are practiced all over the country and the communities from various places produce their own local variations of the art and its production techniques.

Gujarat is known for its trader prints called sodagiri and the Ajrak print that originates from the Gujarat’s Kutch district.

In Rajasthan Sanganeri prints and the technique of mud-resist or Dabu printing are widely known.

In West Bengal, block printing artisans reside primarily in and around Serampore city. As block printing is not traditional to eastern India and was only introduced in the mid 20th century, these artisans have proven their expertise with their ability to satisfy the modern demand for block printed products.

Beautiful items that are created are largely purchased by the middles class and the demand for these block printed items are ever increasing. In recent years, this has spurred both the Indian government and non-government organisations to create numerous programs to support the craftsmen who perpetuate the handicraft.