Rajasthan has many traditional crafts, including block printing (if you own an Indian style printed skirt it probably came from here), leather work using camel leather, hand paper making, carpet making, precious and semi-precious stone jewellery, miniature painting and Jaipur blue pottery. The local dress of the nomadic people is colourful, with block printed or tie-dyed fabric, shisha mirrors, bright colours and bangles, always bangles.
While we've been in Jaipur we've had the opportunity to visit several local crafts workshops and also the Anokhi Museum of Block Printing http://www.anokhi.com/museum/home.html.
Housed in a restored havelli in the shadow of the Amber Fort this museum shows the history of block printing, with examples of regional variations and stitched textiles.
We saw the block-maker's designs
and watched blocks being carved
Then we had chance to have a go ourselves - this is a three-colour design. The maximum is seven colours.
Ingenious ink trays have wire mesh to prevent too much ink clogging the blocks
Also whilst in Jaipur we visited two other block printing workshops, the first in Amber, at a collective that also includes rug making (more in a later post).
The guy on the left is making the first print in this three-block process ...
closely followed by his colleagues with blocks two and three. Registration is done by eye (there are hidden dots for the first block so spacing remains consistent) and they work so fast, making it look really easy (it isn't!).
A selection of blocks on display - the four below make up the elephant.
In this tiny shed fabric for duvet covers and pillow cases was being printed using three blocks. They kindly stopped to show is the process and let us have a go.
Fascinating! Even Shyam our driver couldn't resist a look through the window - either that or he was trying to hurry us up so we got to Pushkar before dark!
More pictures over on InStitches blog.