Observations on Craft

Craft, Handloom, Art, Craftspersons/ Artisanal, Entrepreneurship, Business Devt., Sustainability, Sustainable Devt.

Observations on Craft: Chippas - From Block Printers to Entrepreneurs

Sunny and Meeta

Chippas - from block printers to entrepreneurs
The printing caste known as Chippas is spread in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab (where they are known as Chimbas). Many of them are still pursuing their traditional occupations and there are many among them who are exporters, entrepreneurs and millionaires. When we started working with the Chippa community in the early 90's, they had known the second boom of exports which was then leveling off. Recognizing the importance and value of textile printing by hand, in the 80's a hand printing institute was set up in Jaipur to research, develop and nurture block printing traditions. Traditionally Chippas were block printers using small blocks (3"by 3") printing fabric for ghaghras and odhnis. They worked with other related castes of Neelgars (indigo dyers), Rangrez (tie-dyers),Dhobis (washermen).The printing was done using the traditional mordants of alum and iron and were famous as Sanganeri and Bagru prints. The colour palette was of red black with mud resist dyes of blue, green and yellow. The bleaching after the process of printing was done next to rivers or lakes with water being sprinkled on the fabric under the fierce Rajasthani sun, known as sun bleaching. The whole process largely used wastes and was eco-friendly. For centuries these colours and print combinations had worked as each caste wore their colours like a flag and certain prints were essential for weddings and other functions through the year. With th...
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