Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Sanganer, a short distance from Jaipur, is a town famous for its fabric dying and printing. We told the driver of our auto-rickshaw that we wanted to see the places where this work took place. He didn't seem to know, but made a call on his phone and when we reached there, another man jumped in beside him and directed us to a large sandy area where printed tablecloths, spread out on the ground, were drying in the sun. Camel carts, loaded with multi-coloured rags, trundled among the fabrics and barefoot children frisked over them...
...while their mothers spread out the finished cloths, folded them and cut them into lengths.
We were shown the vats where cloth was first bleached to a uniform whiteness,
...then wound onto huge rollers and immersed in dye.
In a dark room at long tables, men were printing the coloured cloth with intricate designs. We watched as an indigo cloth, many metres long, was overprinted in red and then in gold for future saris.
All around us on high wooden poles, banners of brilliant fabrics wafted in the breeze.
Before returning to Jaipur we visited a family business where we were served chai tea, and admired the many bolts of fabric as well as the owners' collection of antique printing blocks. I bought a couple of dupattas (the shawls worn over saris) dyed and printed in the traditional madder and indigo. As we were leaving, the owner pressed a small wooden printing block into my hand. I may now have to make my own handprinted handkerchiefs with this little elephant motif.