Craft of Rajasthan
History and sources
Even in the past centuries in Rajasthan several ateliers were created where artists
were treated with due respect and paintings, jewelry and pottery, stone and wood
carving, textile and rug weaving, was accorded due place. That this was a serious
activity was evident when the founder of the city of Jaipur, Sawai Jai Singh invited
artisans from all over the country to come and settle in his new capital. Incentives
were given and special areas were designated for their places of work and residence.
As a result, Jaipur today is referred to as the crafts capital of the country and
the city’s life seems to derive from the industry of gems and jewellery and large
number of industries that deal in the arts and crafts.
Jaipur’s bazaar, like those of Jodhpur and Bikaner, Udaipur, Kota and countless
other towns, are a source of endless fascination. What has changed is patronage.
The average Indian and foreign tourist are equal partners in the new boom in the
business. And no longer are ateliers classical. Today’s bazaars accept folk art
and jewelry, and have been successful in helping bridge the gap between traditional
art and contemporary usage.
The traditional art of tie-and-dye textiles by dexterously knotting the material
and dipping it in colour to form delicate bandhej patterns is found all over the
state. Laheriyas or the delicately created patterns in waves are dyed mostly in
Udaipur. Jodhpur, on the other hand, is famous for its pachranga or five-coloured
bandhej on saris, odhnis, or mantles and safas or turbans. Jaipur’s Johari Bazaar
has rows of shops dealing in tie-and-dye fabrics and saris.
Also available all over Rajasthan are the fine self-check-weave cotton saris from
Kota. These gossamer-fine saris, excellent for summer wear, are available in plain
colours or printed in subtle floral patterns in soft pastel shades.
Hand block Printing
Hand block printing is not only a traditional form of imparting motifs and colour
on fabric, mostly cotton, but is also an eco-friendly form of printing on textiles.
Metre upon metre of fabric is printed meticulously by hand using wooden blocks and
vegetable dyes. Though hand block printing is widely practised all over the state,
two villages close to Jaipur, Sanganer and Bagru, are devoted solely to the pursuit.
Sanganeri is famous for its delicate floral sprigs, Bagru for its linear and zigzag
stripes in earth colours Barmer, a town located in the heart of the desert, is known
for its red indigo geometric ajraks and historic Chittor for its jajam prints.
Another Rajasthani speciality is the quilt. Almost no shopping expedition to Rajasthan
is complete without buying at least one feather-soft and feather-light Jaipuri razai
as these quilts are called. Though these quilts are available all over the state,
it is in Jaipur that they have reached a degree of perfection. Available in beautiful
colours with Sanganeri prints, bright tie-dyed materials, marble prints on cotton
or in brightly hued velvet, they weigh very little yet are comfortingly warm.