About a month ago we had two lovely visitors from the U.A.E. come to stay at Savista. And from our first meeting, they clearly expressed interest in textiles, even sharing with us pages torn from a magazine highlighting the beauty of authentic textiles of Jaipur. The couple was most interested in purchasing textiles, less interested in witnessing the process (entirely understandable on a short trip to Jaipur). So we shared our knowledge of the best shops to go hunting for authentic Jaipur textiles, told them a little but about our relationship with the neighboring block printing town of Bagru, and sent them on their way.
The two came back exhausted loaded with shopping bags, and at some point during that day asked to hear a bit more about Bagru. Our block printing workshops. And our half day tours to the printing workshops. Bagru, only 8 km from Savista, is home to artisans of the Chhipa community who are renowned for their style of hand block printed cottons. They have kept this beautiful tradition – using mostly natural fabrics and vegetable based dyes – alive in Bagru for at least 350 years. The long life of this craft is attributable to its prime natural environment.
Considering that Jaipur is known for its history, architecture and, one must not forget the crafts using precious stones, gold and silver, leather, textiles, etc. we expect many of our guests to have made a note whether mental or in their travel books that these are the things to see or buy while in the Jaipur area. This very reasonable notion encouraged us to strengthen our relationship with our friends in Bagru, hoping to bring the interested parties directly to the source of block printed textiles.
The men and women of the Chhipa community produce beautiful meters of fabric day in and day out, without much of a notion of where their fabric will be going and what it will become. Their products are sold at a distance from the environment in which they are produced, and visitors who come to buy textiles in Jaipur do not get to see the hard work, time and care that goes into each meter of fabric. So, the half day tours and the block printing workshops were created by Savista – working with a few select artisans of Bagru – to showcase this beautiful art form.
Now, our couple from the U.A.E opted for the half-day tour to Bagru. It was long enough to see each step of the process: from the carving of the block, to the dyeing of the fabric, the block printing, the drying, and examples of the final product in various styles. Of course, no length of fabric can be chosen, a block carved, fabric dyed, printed, possibly dyed again, maybe even printed on once or twice more, dried and sold, within a half day time-frame. And because of the natural time constraints built into the process, our guests taking the tour to Bagru get to visit the Chhipa community, see the carving of the block in one shop, the dyeing in another home/workshop, etc. etc.
This tour opens up many types of opportunities: the opportunity to see a community beyond its bazaars, with a local at hand to answer questions. The chance to see workshops of many different shapes and sizes, as well as varying printing techniques such as Dabu: printing with mud such that further layers can be printed atop and the mud can be washed away leaving negative space. And, finally, the opportunity to see the finished work of a master printer, and share a cup of chai with him.
I hope that you have enjoyed the photos of our Bagru trip and should you want to learn more about our half day trips to Bagru or blockprinting workshops, please visit: http://www.savista.com/block-printing.html or contact us at: email@example.com