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The Magical Prints of Bagh

Written by Diviya Pangaria

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Posted on October 25 2017

Bagh Printing, derives its name from the village of Bagh (the Tiger in Hindi) on the banks of river Baghini in central India. Traditionally practiced by the tribal Bhils and Bhilalas in the region, Bagh Printings modern incarnation is attributed to the family of Khatri's who migrated from Sindh (now in Pakistan). Unlike Ajrakh, Bandhani or other ancient Indian techniques, Bagh Printing is relatively recent. 

The Khatri's as well as other artisans have used a vast range of motifs. From the use of floral and geometrical motifs (influenced from traditional Ajrakh and also from Mughal & Sufi cultures) to the modern incarnations of mushrooms and flys (makkhi in Hindi), we can see the evolving creativity of the artisans at Bagh. The blocks used for printing are made from locally sourced teak wood and are similar to the ones used in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Wood Block for Printing

Bagh Printing is a long and arduous 15 steps process which includes pre-printing processes (such as removing starch and other impurities from the fabric), printing process and post-printing processes (such as washing the fabric in boiling water of the bhatti/furnace, drying, washing in locally sourced raw materials such as rock salt). The last step of the process is to rinse the final product in the flowing mineral rich water of Baghini. This enhances the colours on the product and it is for this step that the Bagh Printing has been recognised under the Geographical Indications Act.

Paisley Print Red Durri

Though Bagh Printing is relatively modern, it uses traditional, natural and locally sourced colours for the dying process. Red  and Black colours are used on majority of the designs. Red color for printing is prepared by boiling alum and tamarind seeds together to make a paste. For Black color, iron rust is boiled till it turns to a thick paste.  As a rarity you may also see some designs using Yellowish Orange (from Turmeric). There are a vast range of natural fabrics used for Bagh Printing. Bagh Printing is also the first of its kind to be used for printing on bamboo mats.

While there are many similarities that we can draw between Bagh Printing and other transitional techniques, there is atleast one unique factor. All traditional techniques (including Ajrakh) print only motifs on a fabric leaving the background as is. Bagh Printing also prints in a way that the motif design is formed from an uncoloured fabric. These types of background printing motifs are used largely on the borders of bedsheets, table covers and rugs.

 

Explore the Bagh Prints through our range of exclusively designed home products in The Bagh Collection.

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