Hand Block Printing - Mendh Ki Chapai of Jaipur, Rajasthan

Hand Block Printing - Mendh Ki Chapai of Jaipur, Rajasthan

Languishing Craft

Mendh ki chapai is a resist style of printing that was practised locally in the town of Sanganer for the tribal Meena, Jat and Mali women. The wax resist enjoyed a similarity with dabu printing (Bagru village near Jaipur is famed for it), but unlike dabu which utilises mud as the resist, Mendh Ki Chappai utilised the more complex and ardous process of using beeswax as the resist material. The other special feature of the mendh was the fragrance of the fabric which was printed using beeswax/Mendh, a pleasant aroma, which was retained by the fabric for several washes. The beeswax for resist was procured from the forests, sourced from the Bhil tribalís in exchange for money or goods, clothes or grain. In brief, the wax resisted the printed area and traditionally the colour palette was of a deep red combined with an indigo or black. With the first colour being wax resisted being the deep red colour, followed by the indigo or black colour, either in the indigo vat or mineral black colour.

The origin and practise of Mendh printing is not clearly traceable, even though a very extensive library search was undertaken, but it seems to be unique to Sanganer as any information available mentions this geographic area. Sanganer is a famous printing centre and have recently acquired it geographical indication act of the small delicate floral spread that has famed the small town of printing.

Sanganer is home to chippa community of printers and dyers. Chippa literally meaning the person who prints with the communities who are engaged in printing on cloth called chippas. The printing community was earlier in Amer who were brought and settled in Sanganer by Sawai Raja Jai Singh ji when his capital shifted to Jaipur. The printing settlement was near the banks of River Saraswati which is also called as Dravyavati. It is said that the waters of this river had such special qualities that it brought extra brightness in the colours, thus the colours produced in the Sanganer region had differentiable brightness. Sadly the river turned into a small canal and soon the water levels went down and the river has now completely dried up. The water supply is through motor, pumps and the water tanks. With more than 1000 families in the business of printing, the town of Sanganer is actively growing. The town contributes to the huge amounts of export of printed textiles to Asian, European and American countries.

Other than the famous Sanganeri style of printing, mendh- wax resist style of printing was dominantly used for the local market. When the fine buti textile spread was used majorly for the exports and foreign markets, the bold and sharp prints were used for the local tribals. The tribal prints were resist dyed on a thick cotton cloth with floral butis on the spread of cloth namely phardas.

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