Dabu print is an ancient artform that uses mud resist hand block printing on fabric. Transforming into a flourishing business for the villages of Rajasthan after its revival, Dabu printing has taken the fashion world in its stride.
Dabu printed fabrics have a subtle and extraordinarily imaginative quality about them. This craft has been more than successful in inspiring designers the world over to design clothes and even home decor items using this traditional art.
It is said that the Chinese first came up with this beautiful art form. As it travelled to India, Rajasthan in particular has been the torchbearer of hand block printed fabrics. A great example is the village of Akola situated in the Chittorgarh district of Rajasthan, which uses mud resists – a special variation – to produce this amazing fabric printing craft.
Past Meets The Present
A village handicraft, this unique way of fabric printing has been passed on from generation to generation in the rural areas of Rajasthan. Dabu print is therefore first an important legacy and then a means to earn money for many families there. When it comes to business though, it’s not just the villagers and the traditional keepers of this art, but the modern designers and fashionistas too who have come to realize the business potential of this art.
While it is only in the deep roots of tradition – the actual Dabu craftsmen in the villages – who can show you the authentic designs, the new-age designers too are learning the technique from the masters themselves. The good thing about this traditional design getting an urban exposure, is that the designers today love to add their own unique twist to this style.
The Making of Dabu Printed Fabric
More than anything else, these prints are inspired by nature. This art has been around since such a long time ago, it’s only fair that we see more of flowers, birds, plants, fruits, and such motifs used here.
This printing requires a lot of work – first thoroughly washing the fabric received from the factory, meticulously hand printing the designs on the fabric using blocks and dyes, and finally using mud resist to give it its final touch of uniqueness. The mud resist or ‘dhabu’ is made by mixing together waste wheat chaff, mud, lime, and gum, and dried by sprinkling some sawdust over it. It is then patted over the parts of the fabric which need to be kept from any further dyeing.
Once the printing part is over, the fabric is made to dry in the Sun. Then its again dyed, again dried, and in the end given a final wash to remove any extra dye. The parts with ‘dhabu’ remain plain, while you have colors and designs adorning the rest of the fabric. The final product therefore is a very uniquely colorful and really beautiful piece of fabric.
Wearing Dabu Prints!
The effect that any outfit has is incomplete without the right accessories. And with online shopping being so easy and efficient, you can’t get a better deal anywhere else! So, we see a lot of fashion-loving women wearing Dabu printed sarees paired with fine-looking ethnic jewellery, online-bought in most cases. And they look absolutely magnificent! You can wear clay jewelry and antique metal necklaces with a long skirt bearing Dabu print to give yourself a one-of-a-kind look. Or you could buy fashion earrings online and wear them with a Dabu printed clothing to add a little bit of drama to your ethnic outfit!