How did this small town come to be known as the best in the history of Hand Blockprinting?
It was usual for the Rajasthan medieval elites to have musicians, artists, and craftsmen associated with their family. The artists were attached to their patron’s family. They would create a whole gamut of objects and arts in-house for family-like jewelry, clothes, music, bangles or prints, etc. Sanganer became a land of great artists and patronizing families. Whenever the king or the ruler needed something particular, word of mouth would search for unique skillsets. The best artisans would be found and sent. The selected printers and dyers would prepare a new design or a new shade of color for their king. And that’s how the skills of the artisans of Sanganer became known and sought by higher nobility.
This type of patronage was not just a way for economic sustenance for artisans, but also a peek into the outside world, offering the artisans a channel for aesthetic inputs.
Sanganer Hand Blockprinting: Like every other textile lover, I visited Jaipur searching for exquisite ‘vintage’ textiles, decorated with hand block printed florals in gorgeous shades of aged reds, greens, and indigo from the era of nobility and generous patronage in the history of Jaipur. I ended up traveling 13 km away from the central city to get to this self-contained city of Sanganer packed with old structures and temples of great details and architecture. It is a town known for its unique ‘sanganeri’ hand block printing technique. It was revelatory to stumble onto Sanganer’s various sister crafts like handmade papermaking, gold and silver foil making, and cotton weaving. The small town has its artisanal ecology.
A floor covered in rush in a medieval home
Jacobean Embroidery : We live in our current times in houses or apartments, which are fully furnished, heated in winter, and adorned extensively with textiles for aesthetic reasons and utility. But there was a time in England and the rest of the world that houses were draughty, furniture scarce, and cloth was restricted to wool, linen, and silk. There were rushes on the floor, which dogs and often people would relieve themselves in, making interiors malodorous. People often shifted from one house to another, an itinerant lifestyle because homes became quickly unhygienic.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, an awareness began to grow about beauty and comfort, both in interiors and dress. This age coincided with a time in England when huge homes were being built, abbeys were turned into residences, and lasting peace meant that they could give attention to aesthetic (more…)
Paisley is a genuinely global motif that survived many years, passing through various cultures, evolving into many shapes, names, and colors. The credit for this goes to the endless love of this motif from the tastemakers worldwide. This article traces the origin, movement, evolution, and beauty of this antique motif, which is still a design identity of fashion and home companies from ‘Etro’ in Italy to ‘Kashmir Loom’ in India.
Bābur supervising the laying out of his Charbagh The Garden of Fidelity. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
India – ca.1590
Artists: Bishndas and Nanha From the V&A
Mughal Floral Designs – South Asian art has always been full of floral images, but this reached its zenith in the Mughal empire. During the 330 years that the dynasty ruled, most magnificent art, architecture, and craft that the world has seen were produced, and much imagery used was from flora, particularly in the reigns of Jahāngīr and Shah Jahan. However, Bābur, Humayun, and Akbar are all recorded as profoundly interested in gardens and flowers. One of Babur’s first actions in India was to make a garden, the Charbagh.
The popularity of floral motifs in Mughal art was because traditionally, living creatures and humans were not supposed to be depicted in Islamic art. Therefore, the plant kingdom provided subjects that were non-controversial and capable of stylization.
(more…) Textiles of Africa
A Kuba chief in formal attire. Note the cut pile border. Image from The Worldwide History of Dress.
Textiles of Africa occupy a unique spot in the history of world textiles: Their use ranges from clothing, tent awnings, wall hangings, and bed covers: they also indicate the wealth of the owner, and in many cases, his social standing and possessions. Historically, textiles in Africa have also been used as currency. Therefore it is a pity that most western perception of this genre centers on its ‘craft.’ Of course, African textiles are craft-based, but they are so much more than that.
Africa is a massive continent, with immense cultural and geographical diversity, so the only way to examine its textile traditions in such an article is to divide the elements under heads: (more…)
In 1785 Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf invented the first machine for printing wallpaper, later printing on cotton fabric at his factory in Jouy-en-Josas, hence the prints were known as Toile de Jouy
The term ‘Toile de Jouy’ (meaning, “cloth from Jouy”) refers to the printed cotton produced by the Oberkampf textile manufactory at Jouy en Josas in Normandy from 1760 to 1843. It is most often associated with a Rococo pattern of Shepherds and shepherdesses encircled with floral garlands, usually in blue or pink, on a white background. The term is generic and encompasses a wide range of designs from Neoclassical to more generalized floral patterns.