TWO ORNATE triple-arched gateways lead into Sanganer, a colourful town renowned for its hlockprinted cotton textiles. According to local lore this tradition of hlockprinting goes hack to the 16th century when Sanga, one of the 18 sons of Prithviraj, the Kachhawaha ruler of Amber, re-established the town.
Printers from nearby villages were asked to migrate to this new settlement to develop a range of textiles for the Jaipur court. It was Sanganer’s river with its mineral powers of fixing the colours of the dyes I that gave this printing village its fame and wealth. Today, the town resounds with thethud of printing, as craftsmen work in their sheds amidst bolts of cloth, dye-soaked pads and wooden blocks.
Most of the printers and dyers in the town belong to a guild with retail outlets that sell reasonably priced fabric, tailored linen and accessories. Sanganer is also a centre of handmade paper, a spin-off from textile printing, and . Jaipur’s famous Blue Pottery . Raja Man Singh I of Amber set up the first workshops here to produce this special type of hand-painted pottery inspired by Persian and Chinese blue and white tiles so popular at the Mughal court. Tucked away in the old walled town is an impressive 11th-century Jain temple. ‘the Sanghiji Temple was probably built by a Bain trader with additional donations from the town’s other wealthy merchants. Like other Bain temples found elsewhere in Rajasthan, this too is lavishly decorated with ornate stone carvings that include images of all the 24 Bain tirthankaras (saints) and a beautiful statue of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, in the innermost sanctuary. Sanganer is now a busy suburb of Jaipur city and the location of its airport.
DLICATE FLOWERS and foliage, paisleys , birds and animals on a white background are Sanganer’s special imprint. Handed down from father to son, these motifs were inspired by the flower studies of miniature paintings and Mughal pietra dura motifs . Blockprinting can be seen in the workshops of the city’s Chhipa Mohalla, where each stage of this ancient technique, from chiselling intricate patterns on wooden blocks, to dyeing the fabric in huge copper vats on wood-fed fires, and printing, is all done by hand. In the more complex designs, a single motif may use up to ten different colours with as many locks, each with a different design. In the final stage, swathes of printed cloth are spread on riverbanks or hung on huge frames to dry under the sky.
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