Dabu – something special

South East Asian countries practice various types of resist dyeing, but the mud resist technique is one that is unique to India. A story of a dyer stumbling across this technique by mistake is told by many artisans in Rajasthan and Gujarat. In Madhya Pradesh, a tribal printing technique called Nandana laid the foundations for Dabu printing in this region.

Regional Dabu printing is practiced in three states of India - Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The craft is practiced through the year with the exceptions of the months that experience heavy monsoons i.e. June - August.

The Chippas (printers) and Neelgars (dyers) are mainly the communities that work hand in hand to make these mud resist fabrics. Skills are passed on from generation to generation, with both men and women participating in the activities based on the region they work in. Interestingly, Rajasthan for example, has only men involved in the process, where as in Madhya Pradesh, only the women take part in the printing activity.

Bagru is located 30 kilometers southwest of Jaipur along Ajmer Highway. The Chhipa community has been hand block printing in Bagru for about 350 years, developing a unique process with natural vegetable dyes. In the last 20 years, Bagru’s population has exploded with the development of the Bagru RIICO Industrial Area and the increase in hand block printed textiles exports.