Move from the by-lanes of Jodhpur city to explore the sandy and green roughly mixed dual-tone of its countryside. Quite in contrast to the cliched list of 10 places to visit in Jodhpur here the offbeat side of the city awaits for you to explore. The dryness in the air and the thorny bushes make their presence felt. The landscape colours change quite matching the transition from the modern way living to the simple rural life. The one thing but universal in Jodhpur being the vibrancy in colours, surely Rangeelo Rajasthan emancipates itself in its own unique style here.
A topsy turvy Jeep ride with a local tour guide takes one to the settlements of the Bishnoi Clan. Covering one Bishnoi village after another we look forward to reaching this famous village of Jodhpur. In between, we cross patches of bushy forest lands where Blackbucks, Chital and Sambhar variety of deers inhabit in plentiful number. Finally, after a little detour and a halt for deer sightseeing we reached one of the top places to visit in Jodhpur, Kankani Village. It took us about an hours time to reach this village which is located towards the south of Jodhpur.
Kankani, is the same village where the infamous Black Buck poaching case happened. The case involved some top actors from Bollywood. But fondly with the tourists, it garners limelight for its internationally renowned block printing technique. Using simple fundamental nature of organic chemicals the Chhipa community settled here make phenomenal block printed fabrics. These dabu fabrics get buyers from all across the world. In fact, even many top Indian ethnic and home decor brands like Fab India & Anokhi source fabrics for this place.
As per the availability of water, these traditional hand block printers make vivid kinds of block prints. Two of the most popular style of block printing are Bagru print and Dabu print. In Jodhpur, mostly Dabu printing (daboo print) is done as it requires less number of washing.
Dabu (Daboo) Printing Process:
The printing technique followed by the Chhipa Comunity people in Kankani village involves 5 steps to produce one single piece of hand block printed fabric.
- Firstly, the design printing happens on the cloth piece using the wooden blocks and turmeric (Haldi) paste. This forms the desired print over the cloth in a mild yellowish stain.
- The cloth is sun-dried. Next, to the printed areas lemon application happens. The citric acid in lemon turns the yellow block printed patterns on the cloth to red colour.
- Post-sun-drying this cloth, on the red coloured block-printed portions, a mud solution is applied. Wooden design blocks or stencils are used for the same.
- Once completely dried, dipping of this fabric into Indigo dye happens. This gives the no-mud parts of fabric a blue colour.
- The cloth is finally washed with clean water. In this, the mud also is washed off. The red prints on the fabric can be seen with blue as the base colour.
Similarly, for printing in other vibrant colours different vegetable colours are used. As per the artisans of this place in Jodhpur the entire process involves 95% natural products.
These traditional hand block printers of Kankani Village in Jodhpur make different kinds of prints for different communities, such as the Patel, Meghwal, Muslims, Rabari, Jat, Bishnois etc. Like the Patel women wear a different patterned lehenga skirt than a Bishnoi woman and so on. According to the local artisans, in villages despite so much modernization around, local people are still particular about the patterns and motifs. They do not buy other community-specific prints. In stark contrast to this, tourists and in urban areas women & men wear block printed fabric of their own choice. Certainly, not abiding with any community-specific print per se. Ignorance sometimes truly is bliss!
Well, noteworthy are the designs they actually make for home decor fabrics and for urban clientele. They have an amazing collection of chevron prints, pretty florals, abstracts. Even traditional hand sequence worked fabrics depicting the Rajasthani culture and royal opulence are available.
The price of single-bed linen is Rs. 750 onwards. Whereas double-bed linen will cost you Rs. 1000 onwards.
As a buyer myself, the local artisans of Kankani village do not appreciate haggling. So please be polite while negotiating. They only do a discount of maximum 50-100 Rs. not more than that. A lot of hard work goes into making a single piece of fabric so the cost is totally worth it. Further, one wouldn’t find such hand block prints even in Jodhpur city market so exclusivity does come with a price. Moreover, if you opt for buying from brands like Anokhi or FabIndia the same piece of cloth will cost you more.
A little about Chippa Community:
Chhipa Community in Rajasthan is basically Rajputs. However, according to one theory, their origin lies in Nepal. This is the place where they got their name from. ‘Chhipa’ in Nepali means Chhi (to dye) and Paa (to sun-dried). India, Pakistan & Nepal are the places where this community can be seen majorly settled. In India, Chhipa community people are present mainly in northern states & extending till Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Another theory suggests that the community derived its name from their primary occupation that was Chapai meaning to print.
Have you heard about Bishnois of Rajasthan and their eco-friendly way of living? Click to Read more
So the next time you visit Jodhpur, do visit this village. One can witness the making of exquisite hand block printed dress material and home decor furnishings live. And maybe buy some fabric for self and family or try doing it yourself!
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