Block printing refers to the printing technique of pressing and stamping fabric with carved wooden/metal blocks filled with color. “Hand blocked” or “hand block printing” are other terms that refer to block printing. The recorded history of block printing dates back to the Indus valley civilization i.e. around 3500 to 1300 BC. There are many archaeological evidences that prove that the Harappans were familiar with an early form of block printing. Block print cotton fragments of this era have been found at different excavation sites in India. Various types of needles, spindles and pieces of printed cotton fibres have been excavated from excavation sites of Harappa, Mohenjo Daro and Lothal etc. This gives further boost to the claim that the Harappan artists were familiar with the block printing.
In the early 12th century, several cities on southern, western and eastern coasts of India became trade centres for high quality printed cotton clothes. Wooden block printing and dyeing of cottons became very common in various parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat as well. The wooden blocks were mostly used for printing fabrics for royal costumes, floor coverings, bed sheets and decorative wall hangings.
There are many tedious steps that require artistry, skill and patience to create the beautiful block printed textiles. From the design and carving of the wood blocks, to the preparation of the cloth, the mixing of dyes and the application. This technique requires a lot of manual labour and hence is deeply valued world over.
Amrich has been working consistently with generational artisans and artists that have mastered the skills of this technique. Although the technique itself lends to numerous beautiful possibilities by itself, one of the main thrills for the designers is to create collaborations of the technique of hand-block printing with texturing learnt from their signature shibori artisanship. The merging of these two ancient hand-techniques helps them create novel resist printed patterns.