Bagru, a town at the outskirts of Jaipur(Rajasthan) is one
of the textile hubs. It is known for centuries for its natural dying, syahi
begar printing, indigo dying and wooden hand block printing. Syahi begar printing is one of the traditional hand block
print techniques where the prints are in the combination of red, black and
yellow ochre or cream.
Syahi (black color) is made by keeping the mixture of
horse shoe iron, water and jaggery in an earthen pot for around 15-20 days in
summers whereas; in winters, it takes around 6 weeks to get ready. Then tamarind
seed powder is mixed to this mixture and boiled. Begar (red color) is made by mixing Alum (fitkari), Madder
(lal mitti) and juice of baboool gond.
The process of Syahi Begar involves pre-washing and soaking
the fabric in fresh water and turcoil oil for 24 hours. It is done to remove all
starch, dust or any other contaminants. Next the fabric is beaten to remove left
over dust. The fabric is then dyed in the Harda (merubelum powder) solution. It
allows the natural dyes to adhere to the fabric and become colorfast. The
typical yellow dye or color is obtained from the Harda fruit which is again
yellow in color.
The dyed fabric is then spread on long padded printing
tables. There are three different blocks used to make the prints. First block
that is a Gadh block,it is used for the background, next the Rehk block for fine
outlines and finally the Datta block for inside filling. There can be more than
one Datta block to fill in different colors. This process of printing is
repeated over and over again.
At last, the fabric is left to dry after completion of
printing. Then it is washed 3-4 times in fresh water. The fabric is then boiled
for around 5 hours in a large copper pot (bhatti). The pot consists of a mix
of natural ingredients like alizerine( aal ki lakdi) and sakura flower (dawaria
ka fool). After boiling, the fabric is once again dipped in Harda to remove the
excess alum (fitkari). The block printed fabric is then roll-pressed and is ready.
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