Vibrant fabrics on the move
Against the backdrop of the famous Hawal Mahal, (Palace of the Winds) in Jaipur’s old city centre, traders and couriers transport bundles of handmade fabrics around the Jaipur streets every day. The capital of Rajasthan is the fabric capital of India.
This backbreaking work is achieved using hand carts, bicycle rickshaws, bullock carts, motorbikes and trucks - all amid a loud carcophany of whistles, horns and shouts as pedestrians jostle for a safe thoroughfare.
From the hanks of raw threads prepared for the weaving looms to the finished and ready-made garments for the showrooms in Bapu Bazaar, a makeshift street stall or on to the large city malls, a collage of vibrant fabrics is on the move!
Handmade Blockprints and Indigo
Freshly woven fabric is en route to the printers and dyers of Jaipur’s back streets or to nearby Sanganeer and Bagru to undergo the magical process of block printing or natural indigo dyeing.
The most colourful block prints are typical of Sanganeer, where the fine designs are printed onto a white background in traditional floral design motifs, exuding a sharp contrast and vibrance that has withstood the passage of time and fashion.
Fabrics in Bagru
The printing workshops and drying fields of Bagru, about 30 km outside Jaipur, are an integral part of the Jaipur fabric scene. Lengths of indigo-dyed fabric are seen hanging from every available building to dry in the hot sun.
Bagru is a semi-rural community where the very earthy and natural block printing style using dabu, natural dyes and indigo dyeing thrives. It is here amid the daily life of the chhipas, or traditional block printers that creative textile magic takes place. White cotton fabric block printed with a mud paste is dipped into the indigo vat to be transformed into indigo scarves and sarongs.
From carved wooden block to printed design, the process goes on every day, to create a myriad of organic and eco friendly designs for the fabric-loving world! New cotton scarves inspired by botanic motifs from tropical Australia and designed by Pallu Design are here on the printing tables in Bagru …
Bandhani (fine tie and dye)
Bundles of handmade bandhani cottons and silks, still with tiny threads attached and freshly dyed in a myriad of brilliant colours, make their way from outlying villages where the hand tied knots have been painstakingly applied by the village ladies. Threads are removed to revealed the delightful pattern beneath!
Transported on to city wholesalers and retailers, the scarves and saris are scrutinized by eager tourists, local buyers and bartering bridal parties who appreciate the fine handwork, as they know it will enhance their special occasion. Many unique silk and cotton bandhani scarves make their way in overseas parcels to shoppers who are intrigued and fall in love with these gorgeous fabrics with their tiny specks of colour.
Bazaars of Jaipur
Here you will find gorgeous, vibrant Rajasthani outfits - saris, wedding lehenga, gagra choli, tunics and salwar kameez in colour combinations you may have thought would never be witnessed! And so many décor textiles, quilts, bed sheets, tablecloths and cushions are there to tempt you at every turn ...
The salesman makes it his duty to ensure that the customer sees the very best of each fabric, even modelling it on himself to show off the sheen. He delights in the theatrics of extracting scores of wonderful saris from their packaging to tempt even the most restrained buyer.
Days spent wandering through the maze of colourful bazaars in Jaipur’s old city - Bapu, Johari and Tripola Bazaars to name a few, bring a special delight to anyone’s journey to Jaipur.
There is a certain joy that touches the creative heart as you feast on the brilliant colours, textures, sounds and aromas of the bustling bazaar. The energy of so many artisans has been instilled into these glorious textiles - such a privilege to have the time to enjoy that energy!
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