Wednesday, 1 April 2009

India: Sanganer

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.


alpa said...

Dear Christine,

Your Sanganer pictures are fabulous. I am a student of urban design in the US and would love to use them as a conceptual idea that I am developing, only with your permission, of course and with due credit.
Please do let me know,

Christine Allen said...

Hi Alpa,

I'm glad you like my photos. You are welcome to use them, provided you give me credit for them.

I would be interested in seeing your concept when it is completed if it is possible.

Good luck,

adven-knit-ture said...

Hi Christine
Your journal entries and photos are so inspiring. I am heading off for India in a couple of months and will want to put Sanganer on the list.
As I read your info I realized that we used to be next door neighbours in the 1980's.
Nice to see all you have accomplished.

Pranav said...

Hello Christine,

I am an architecture student and happen to read this blog entry. Its really nice pictures. I just wanted to tell you that Sanganer also makes beautiful handmade paper. This is what i was searching for while i ran into your blog on google search.

Hope you visit the unique paper making experience as well.


Christine said...

Thank you, Pranav.
You have reminded me that we did visit a paper-making place in Sanganer as well, and bought a roll of beautiful paper inset with flower petals. I will go back to my photo collection and see if I took any pictures I can add to the blog.