There is this story in Indian mythology of a beautiful girl living deep in the forest, wearing clothes made of the plainest of fabric, day in and day out. Once she gets a surprise gift from her foster father, just before her wedding – he wished for beautiful clothes and jewelry for her and they all appeared magically on top of a nearby shrub.
Reading this story in my childhood – it fascinated me. I imagined different types of clothes on that plant. Imagined me as the princess. Imagined the tree resplendent with the different jewels and clothes I myself wanted. They all were in beautiful Indian prints and patterns.
The world has adopted a lot of them as their own, as they should. Art is not confined to any boundary. It is universal. All the Indian prints are universally appealing and you may have seen them in your clothes or others’ clothes or on upholstery or somewhere, at least once wherever you live.
I am no expert in these prints and hope that I correctly recognize the prints and patterns. The true experts are the artisans (the weavers, the printers, dyers, block carvers) who live in the villages of India who bring these prints to life with their tireless endeavor and artistic abilities and creative instincts, against a lot of odds.
Indian prints & Patterns
Table of Contents
This print uses motifs in intense colors like Black, yellow, crimson red, green and indigo blue (Blue and red are the most prominent and distinguishing colors of this print) and will also have motifs worked in white (unprinted) and black, usually as an outline – the white and black defining the design. It is worked as a block printing technique.
Usually multiple colors are seen in the same fabric, with many different types of motifs, including border prints. As many as 20-30 different steps maybe involved in creating an Ajrakh printed fabric – A very labor intensive printing process indeed.
You can read more about this printing technique here.
Another hand block print made in natural colors of Red and black practiced in Bagh town in the Indian State of Madhya Pradesh. It is usually made on a white background. Red color is made from alum and black color is made from rusted iron (iron oxide). The dye is mixed with a vegetable gum to form a paste used in this printing.
Read more on Bagh print : https://craftatlas.co/crafts/bagh-print.
This is a print produced by a type of tie and dye technique creating small dots all over the fabric. The fabric is tied tightly in several places with grains inside – it is dipped in the dye solution, lighter colors first and dark colors later. Bright colors like yellow, purple, red, magenta, green are used. Small dots, Circles, diamonds and many other shapes are obtained this way.
You can read more on the 8 different types of tie and dye here.
These are small motifs on the fabric – usually woven.
Dabu is a resist technique used to create light coloured designs on a dark background. Mud is used as the resist medium (Kali mitti -black clay).
When the fabric is dyed, the places where the clay is applied and dried remains uncolored. Read more on resist printing here.
Batik is a wax resist dyeing technique. Beautifully intricate as well as shaded designs can be printed on the fabric using this technique.
Learn more about Batik here : https://www.batikguild.org.uk/batik/what-is-batik.
Ikkat prints are made using the tie and dye technique – on the yarn. The yarn is dyed in this way before the fabric is made. In ikkat prints you will find different motifs like flowers, animals like fish, parrots, leaves.
The term kalamkari derives from the Indian word ‘kalam’ which means pen. The designs of this prints look as if it is drawn with the help of a pen.
This printing originated in the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh and is traditionally block printed on fabric using organic and vegetable dyes.
This is a printing using metallic colors or white color. It is usually done over hand block printed fabrics as a special highlight. It is also used as a standalone print.
These are flowy long striped prints created with the tie and dye technique.
There is a whole history behind the very famous paisley prints / Mango prints. You can learn more about paisley pattern here.
This refers to sari fabric prints with geometrical patterns; these are arranged in the shape of animals/birds etc. Swans, elephants are regular motifs in Patola fabric.
Pochampalli ikat prints
This is another print with geometrical prints and these are formed by its special weaving process -ikat. These wave like shapes are seen all over or towards the border
Sanganer Prints have beautiful delicate floral designs done on a white (pure white or off-white) background. The floral and leaf motifs of roses, lilies, marigold, sunflowers, and lotus are complemented by geometric motifs. The outlines of the motifs are printed first and then the color is filled in.
Reference : https://www.faridagupta.com/blog/difference-between-sanganer-and-bagru-printing.html
Seyali Bagru prints
Seyali Bagru printing is a traditional printing process followed in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It makes dark-colored patterns (red, black, and sometimes blue) on a dyed or cream /yellow ocher background, all made with natural dyes on cotton fabric. Natural motifs are interspersed with geometrical motifs in this fascinating Indian printing. Vegetable dyes are used throughout the process.
Learn more about this here : https://luggra.com/2018/04/11/bagru-a-traditional-printing-technique-of-rajasthan/.
These are pyramid like motifs, an abstract representation of temples of India – usually used as a border print on Saris.
Warli painting is a tribal art practiced in the state of Maharashtra. These are stylized drawings depicting the daily life of the tribal people.This art can be seen as patterns on fabric – usually printed.
This is a pattern based on the Pichwai paintings of Rajasthan, narrating tales of Lord Krishna. The pattern on fabric are based on these intricate pichwai paintings done using dark colors/earthern colors.
They were and is still used as wall decor – as wall hangings with a spiritual intent. The godliness and playfulness of Lord Krishna is beautifully represented in this hand painted work.
These are hand painted designs worked on cream colored Handloom sarees (Traditional Kerala Kasavu Saree). Usually these paintings depicts Radha Madhavam painting – Lord Krishna along with Radha.