Step foot in to the Pink City and you are soon under its spell but venture just 40 minutes out of Jaipur and you are intoxicated by tradition. Discover how our new BLOCK. range is inspired by the artisans of Bagru and the techniques they have adopted for centuries.
When you come face to face with Bagru, you soon realise that its artisan society is structured in an ancient way according to inherited roles and customs. Straddling the highway to Jaipur, the town of 30,000 people is dense with cows and pigs wandering the roads, as teenagers in jeans zip by on scooters and hawkers sell ripe scented mangoes.
But in home workshops throughout the town, you can still find chippas, a caste of printers who continue day after day to stamp lengths of cotton fabric with colour using hand-carved wooden blocks. They were taught this trade by their parents, who were, in turn, taught by theirs — each generation working almost exactly as the one before, going back at least 300 years. Printers stand before long tables covered with fabric, dipping blocks into color and stamping them with a thump thump of the hand to ensure a strong print on the fabric. Each new design gets a blessing to ensure perfection from the God's.
Wander the streets of Bagru and you will soon discover an industry of makers who are all part of the block printing chain of process. Hereditary carvers make the printing blocks, mostly fathers and sons, squat inside tiny open studios, chiseling designs traced onto teak. Even the washing of the fabric is done by a particular group, the dhobi, who stand all day waist-deep in water baths. Printing, washing and dyeing is all part of the essential process and everything centres around a vast dusty square, where deep coloured fabrics are laid out to dry in the sun or waft from the rooftops of the surrounding buildings.
Block prints are done by eye but imperfections are all part of the humanity and beauty of this craft. Block printing is a way of life, a culture built around a community, in which families and neighbours are working and living in tandem, often across religions, tribes and generations, from a shared history.
Our original BLOCK. design started out on paper and was soon carved in to reality in Bagru, only just a few hours after we had arrived. There is no time to waste in Bagru.
Rajasthan's artisans have taken our modern designs and helped us bring them to life using their age old ways. We have challenged the process but the results are there to see - beautiful designs and colours that will add vibrancy to any space. The heart and soul of Bagru is in our new products and together with our makers we are excited to bring to you our new textile ranges printed and woven in Jaipur and the UK.
For the home, for the people.
Available from the 7th of May.