Crafts & Prints from Indian Heritage
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
India has seen changing regimes and kingdoms, each with their own beliefs affecting their cultural fabric (Including actual fabric).
Explore 10 of the most incredible prints of our heritage, that we absolutely love!
Welcome to Threads & Fabrics, the blog space where youll learn about how fabrics are made, industry insight, the history of traditional styles and much more!
Today we share some of our classic inspiration moods from the ethnic prints of our beloved Indian heritage. Indian handlooms are popular across the globe. The diversity, the romanticised craftsmenship, & the incredible amount of effort that goes into every meter of fabric, is overwhelming enough to make one feel like a King or Queen, being presented threads woven only for royalty.
These styles are developed over decades, inspired from nature, architecture and folklore. Explore some of our work on these styles here -
Bandhani (or #Sungudi in Tamil Nadu) is a variant of tie-dyeing, where small potlis (bunches) of fabric are pinched and tied before immersing the fabric in the dyes. Bandha, literally meaning tie, is a dye style most popular in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. Patterns of stripes, dots, waves, squares and more are made on vibrant colors to make a bright an lively #Bandhani attire!
While the details of its origins are being studied, Batik has been practiced in India, Egypt & Indonesia separately in the 1st to 6th century BC. It was Indonesia however, that popularized #batik and spread it across the world. A special pen, called canting, is used to draw figures with wax ink to make a resist dye look for finer designs, whereas a larger block is used for bolder prints. The true unexpected value of batik is found in batik tulis, where a canting is used to draw on both sides of the fabric, and dyed 3-4 times over a year.
Traditionally, kalamkari is a 23 step process, using only natural dyes. The style has developed as an art from the very start, with artists moving with musicians and dancers, drawing fine depictions of mythology for each episode or performance and a fine pen is used to create a mesmerizing design over months. Modern day #kalamkari is produced heavily in Ishfahan, Iran and Andhra Pradesh, India. It is still widely printed on dupattas and blouse/tops for women.
Similar to Rajkot patola, Ikat has a complex and time consuming process of dyeing warp or weft yarns to create patterns when the fabric is woven. Since it is woven, both sides of the fabric has the design. Ikat is an Indonesian term, meaning bond or tied, but it is believed to have developed independently in different geographies simultaneously, like Batik. #Ikat patterns are worn the world over, from Combodia and Iran to the Latin American states. Indian Ikat is widely popular on Kurtas, Salwar Suits, Home decor and now, even Mens Shirts!
Ajrakh (or Ajrak) is said to be a nearly 4000 years old print form, making it one of the oldest prevailing forms of print in practice today. From the era of Mohenjo Daro, famous for wearing an ajrakh shawl in sculptures existing today, the print style is still heavily practiced in Sindh (where it originated), Barmer & Kutch. Primary colors of red and blue indigo are traditionally associated with #ajrakh along with a small selection of others. All dyes are natural, made from minerals and vegetables, making it a very ecofriendly and mindful process, as one would expect from the taste of a priest-King.
GOLD & SILVER VARAK
When it comes to the royalty of Rajasthan, it was obvious someone would fuse precious metals for their fabrics. Gold and silver is used in two ways predominantly, leaf plating & khari mixing. The first, leaf plating, also called varak, is the same as #varak done on sweets, where thin layers of gold and silver are applied to the surface, to decorate and create a festive look. The second, khari mixing, is more durable in nature, as the metals, now replaced with resembling colors, were mixed with khari paste and printed with a bronze block on the fabrics.
Dabu is a traditional Rajasthani style of mud resist printing. It is naturally exclusive to the villages that have been making it since the start because of the quality of mud (kaali mitti) and water which are the 2 main components of the printing technique. The mud paste is applied and the fabric is dried in the sun, where the mud cracks and the vein patterns naturally appear. The fabric is then dipped in dyes and the mud is washed off to make the designs appear. #Dabu is a popular print style for light prints on dark backgrounds for all types of fabrics currently. The beautiful vein designs work well on Kurtas, Dupattas, Salwar Kaeez and nearly every decor fabric.
Bagru hails from a village in Rajasthan of the same name, #Bagru. It is practiced by the Chhipa community, who function as a village wide organization, with printers, dyers, carvers, designers and washers working together to popularize their craft across the globe. Bagru is traditionally block printed on cream or predominantly indigo dyed fabric. Regional properties of water, and sufficient availability allowed the people of bagru to use indigo dyes, unlike other popular Rajasthani prints.
Originally from Patan, Gujarat, #Patola is said to be the most complex and time intensive print in all of India. Every design is broken down into mathematical equations to make a design that is worthy for the Kings. Each thread in this complex double Ikat weave is dyed separately in sequence of the design. It is said that the golden era of patola has passed with the 12th century Rajput regime in Gujarat and Rajasthan, but patola is still widely used in sarees and home furnishings, besides Kurtis and Indian Dresses.
Another popular print style, named after the village it hails from, Bagh, was developed in Madhya Pradesh. Authentic bagh is washed in the river that passes through for 2 hours before and another 20-30 minutes after printing. The running flow and beating of fabric against the rocks gives it a particular sheen and softness naturally.
The diversity, the romanticised craftsmenship, & the incredible amount of effort that goes into every meter of fabric, is overwhelming enough to make one feel like a King or Queen, being presented threads woven only for royalty.
This is only a glimpse of what we do here at Mangla, a source of inspiration. Like every era, design evolves. We are now able to build on these styles and make concepts for Dresses & Kurtis that are more unique and complex. Stay connected to learn more about our work & get in touch to book a presentation now.
Have a beautiful everyday, fellow fabric enthusiasts!
Wish to learn more? Have a look at these detailed blogs about the story behind each print style!