Bagru- The home of Rajasthani Naturally Dyed Block Prints

The town of Bagru is about half an hour by car from Jaipur, the fairly well-known capital of the north Indian state of Rajasthan. It has been the home of the eponymous (‘Bagru’) naturally dyed, hand block printed fabric for over 350 years.

Block prints from Bagru often have a characteristic off-white to beige base, achieved by soaking the fabric in a ‘Harda’ solution created from the myrobalan plant.

Block prints from Rajasthan-Bagru

Bagru Naturally Dyed Table Cloth. Click on the image to see the intricate design and depth of colour.

The wide variety of designs, which range from floral to geometric, are then printed by hand using traditional, hand-carved wooden blocks mainly made of Sisam (Indian Rosewood). The dyes used come from natural and non-chemical/ non-synthetic sources such as blue from indigo, red from madder, greens from indigo mixed with pomegranate, yellow from turmeric, and blacks and browns from rust and sugar.

Bagru Silk Scarf

Naturally Dyed Block Printed Scarf in washed pure mulberry silk. The natural dyes used in this scarf are made from myrobalan, sugar and rust.

In order to create white patterns on a coloured base, the artisans use a form of resist dyeing called ‘Daboo’ (sometimes spelt ‘Dabu’). This method involves first printing the fabric with a paste of mud and then dyeing it in a vat of the colour to be used as the base.

Daboo Block Print Duvet Cover

Daboo is a form of resist dyeing practiced by the block printers of Rajasthan. The application of the mud paste prevents the area under the mud from catching the dye.

This is a complicated, time and labour intensive process which requires the skill and expertise of the traditional artisans of Bagru.

Both these traditional methods of block printing with natural dyes, need several rounds of washing and drying. Rajasthan, the desert state, with its fierce sunshine and blazing heat is particularly well suited for this activity. However, in the monsoon and winter months, all printing and dyeing has to be suspended because the lack of steady sunshine can affect the quality and colours of the dyes.

Bagru Block Print Scarves

These light as air scarves are a great example of how the block prints of Bagru are as relevant today as they were 350 years ago.

At Purvaai we are privileged to work with the artisan suppliers of Bagru and Sanganer who are engaged in the age-old tradition of block printing with natural dyes. Their lovely designs are translated into scarves in cotton and silk, cushions and curtains, which we are proud to bring to the world.

Pure silk naturally dyed block printed scarf

Naturally Dyed Block Printed Scarf in pure silk. The jasmine pattern in white on this scarf is achieved through resist dyeing.

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And then there were more….photos

Mark Henderson (our super talented photographer) and Team Purvaai spent a gruelling day of filling cushion covers, climbing on boxes to hang curtains on trees, and talking to Farmer James and his dog for permission to use his farm gate, and side stepping Thames Valley Police while we played around with a bench by a roadside! Yes, we were on our latest photo shoot and what a day it was.

Phew…now we have some cracking shots of our latest hand crafted products including cushions, throws, tote bags, curtain panels et all. With our focus on texture and detail at Top Drawer this year, this new range coming soon to our website will be spot on if you care for the craft while glamming up your home. Stay tuned to our website and in the meanwhile enjoy the photo journey of our latest shoot here…..

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Tie-Dye….The Eternal Favorite

Bandhani and Lehariya turbans

An ancient and ever popular technique, tie-dye is a process of resist dyeing textiles typically using bright colors. While there are several variations in technique, the method basically involves patterns of color by folding, tying, stitching, crumpling the fabric to inhibit the flow of the dye into the folds of the fabric. The pattern of the folds and where the colors are squirted determines the final design.

Several variations of the tie-dye technique are evident the world over, from the Shibori in Japan, the Hausa technique in West Africa, Plangi and Tritik in Indonesia to the beautiful Bandhani, Ikat and Leheriya patterns of India.

The now very popular form of “Bandhani” derives its name from the Hindi word Bandhan which means tying up. Bandhani is an ancient art practiced mainly in Western India.

Lehariya turban

This region is also well known for its Leheriya pattern – literally meaning waves. This technique is quite different to the Bandhani as here the fabric is rolled from one corner to the other diagonally and then it is tied at intervals with strings. An astounding variety of Leheriya prints are produced using the simple process of tying and dyeing. The Panchranga technique, using five colours is considered to be very auspicious as the number five has a special position in Hindu Mythology. The Saptrangi flaunts the seven colours of the rainbow. Stripes that follow in one direction are called Leheriya, while diagonal stripes that intersect at right angles to form checks are called Mothra.

The leheriya was patronized in the nineteenth and early twentieth century by the local traders and merchants who wore turbans of bright Leheriya fabric.

This Leheriya (zigzag pattern of irregular colour stripes) is a visual invocation of the flow of water – creating a calm and restful coastal feel we gushed over in our earlier post. Especially in Indigo it shows the wonderfully varying depths of colour after multiple mud-resistant and dyeing processes. No small wonder that the blues in leheriya attract the eyes instinctively, as they did ours.

Purvaai’s Oceana tie-dye collection

Having experimented with the Shibori technique in the Spring Summer collection, Purvaai now brings to you the Leheriya pattern in its new collection ‘Oceana’ of quilts, cushion covers, tea towels and silk stoles.

Watch this space for more updates and visit us at the Top Drawer Autumn, Stand B122, 16-18 September, London Olympia.

Bidri inspired textile art

The Bahamani Sultans ruled over many provinces in India between the 13th and 15th centuries. Being great patrons of art and architecture, they commissioned Abdullah bin Kaiser, a craftsman from Iran to work on decorating the royal palaces and courts. It is believed that Kaiser collaborated with local artisans to give birth to the craft in the township of Bidar (hence Bidri) in South India. Since then the craft has been handed down through generations.

The craft process and its final manifestation, both are very intricate. Involving many steps including casting, engraving, inlaying, blackening and polishing, the resulting products are striking on account of glossy, luxurious silver set against a deep black metal background. The details of the pattern are etched by hand using small chisels and thin sheets of silver are gently hammered into the engraving.

Bidri Hookah Base exhibited at the Louvre

Contemporary Bidri products

Traditionally, the Bidri designs are patterns such as the Asharfi-ki-booti, stars, vine creepers and stylized poppy plants with flowers. Designs also include the Persian Rose and passages from the Quran in Arabic script. However, many modern interpretations of this traditional craft are surfacing in contemporary products like dinner ware, candle stands, and accessories like key rings. We hope that this will allow the beautiful craft to reach a wider audience. Purvaai is making its own humble attempt by interpreting Bidri in textile art. Our new Autumn Winter Collection pays homage to this intricate craft and its dedicated craftsmen.

Purvaai’s Bidri collection of cushions

View our entire ‘Bidri’ collection of cushions at Stand B122 at Top Drawer Autumn, 16-18 September, London Olympia.

Diamond Jubilee Sale

Why have a Jubilee weekend when you can have a Jubilee Month?

We’ve decided to do just that with fab events and a whopping sale all through June

So grab a stylish bargain to ‘posh up your parlour’ by shopping online or come and see us at one of these events:

June 7-9: Craft Central, London

June 30: Norden Farm Centre for Arts, Maidenhead

More info on www.purvaai.co.uk

Spring Inspiration: Blue and Green

UK has been blessed with some fabulous weather for the last few days – a fantastic way to welcome Spring this year! And ofcourse with Spring, I have been possessed with a sense of well being looking at all the glorious blooms in my neighbourhood gardens. So I’ve decided to give my living room a Spring makeover. This season I am obsessing over the combination of blue skies and green foliage – and the abundance of both! Take a look at some of the inspiring living room decor ideas (all copyrights rest with respective websites).

Nice clean lines and contemporary shades of blue and green

Soft and peaceful pallette

Fab centre table and lamp

Having been thoroughly inspired, this is how my living room now looks – I love cushions – more the better – so the blues have been introduced using cushions made from left-over curtain fabric (the most awesome handloom silks I found in India). The crewel embroidered cushions are a gift from my mom. Ahhhh…..the tranquility of lounging here (atleast till my 5 and 37 year old football freaks come home to their resident living room football field)

Tranquil cushion-filled heaven

The very green curtains are made from handloom silk

Home textile design competition announced for UK design students and recent graduates

Purvaai announces a home textile design competition for all students living in the United Kingdom who are either pursuing a design degree or diploma or have recently (in the last 3 years) graduated from a UK-based design institute.

Purvaai’s ‘Textile Design Competition 2012’ entails designing a range of table linen including runner(s), napkin(s) and table cloth(s) OR designing decorative cushion cover(s) and throw(s) based on the theme “Reminiscing the Raj”.

“The days of the British Raj evoke nostalgia for the royalty of yore”, says Toolika Gupta, Creative Consultant and Competition Lead for Purvaai. “Those luxurious palaces and gardens, full of exotic Indian riches and a blending of the Mughal and British styles are full of inspirations. The beautiful chintz, Kashmiri shawls, miniature paintings, carved wooden boxes with secret compartments, the rich carpets or kaleens as they were called, and the dazzling white marble walls with semi-precious stone inlay in floral motifs- these were the reasons India was called ‘a jewel in the crown’ of the British Empire.” she adds.

Priya Raghavan, Co-founder and Director of Purvaai says “With this competition we hope to offer young, talented designers a platform to reinterpret this nostalgia in their very own special way.” Applicants may choose to design prints or embroidery and suggest base fabrics, colour-ways and finishing techniques.

Applicants must register by completing the competition form, which may be downloaded from the website www.purvaai.co.uk. They must also submit a concept note of about 150 words. Competitors can send in detailed inspirational pictures and notes along with fabric choices with each design, if they so desire, however this is not mandatory.

Learn more about Purvaai’s Textile Design Competition 2012 here.