Bagh Print is a traditional hand block print with natural colours, an Indian Handicraft practised in Bagh, Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh, India. Its name is derived from the village Bagh on the banks of the Bagh River. Bagh print fabric with replicated geometric and floral compositions with vegetable colours of red and black over a white background is a popular Textile printing product.

Bagh Print, as it is presently known in Madhya Pradesh, was started by the community of Muslim Khatris (they were converts to Islam under the influence of a sufi saint) in 1962 when they migrated from Manawar to Bagh. Their antecedents are traced to Larkana in Sindh (now in Pakistan) from where they shifted base to Marwad in Rajasthan and then to Manawar; the printing technique prevalent in Sind which they practiced is known as Ajrak prints. However, the reasons for their migration from Sindh across the Indus is not clear. They came with their traditional art form of the block printing process and continued at their new place of settlement but with innovations to meet the local trends and practices in the region; this came to be known as Bagh printing as they settled on the banks of the Bagh river in the village of the same name. In this printing technique the cloth used is cotton and silk cloth which are subject to treatment of a blend of corroded iron fillings, alum and Alizarin. The designs are patterned by skilled artisans. On completion of the printing process, the printed fabric is subject to repeated washing in the flowing waters of the river and then dried in the sun for a specific period to obtain the fine luster.

Weaving and hand block printing process with the geometric designs, imaginative use of red and black natural colours and taking advantage of the chemical properties of the river and effective use of colours results in Bagh Prints in a unique art form. The process involves pre-printing, printing and post printing.




How is Bagh print done?

Raw materials
The materials used to make the printed fabric, depending on the orders received for the finished product, are a wide range of cloth such as cotton Maheshwari dress material, Kosa silk, bamboo chicks, cotton rugs, chiffon, crepe, georgette tissue, and mulberry silk. Printing blocks made of wood with the required patterns to create the prints on the fabric are procured from Pethapur, Gandhinagar and Jaipur. The specification for the cotton fabrics consist of: fine cotton (Mulmul) with 100x120s count and 92x80 picks for making saris, dupattas and salwar suits; cotton cambric of 40x40s count and 92x80 picks for dress material; and yardage fabric of 20x20s count for bed sheets or covers. Other materials required are Cenchura or raw salt, aarandikatel or castor oil, grounded excreta of goat, fitkari or alum, hirakasish or iron sulphate, jaggery, outer skin of pomegranate, and leaves of indigo, lime, Sajji, leaves of Dhavdi, mengni, iron sulphate, chiyan or tamarind seed powder, dhavdakaphool (flower) for polishing and fixing, and alizarine (non-red dyes) to fix colours.

Some of the old blocks used for printing are known by particular names as: Aabotchabutta, Ahmedabadisaaj, Attha, Chaukada, Nandana, Khedekabodh, Indoriaddya, Indoribodh, Indorisaaj, Jawareya, Jodhpuri, Laheriya, Makhi, Molya border,Molyabodh, Mungphali, Nandanakabutta, Nandanakimirache, Nareyal, Palliwalizanjira, Teekoni, Thuddi and Zanjiri.

Pre-printing process
In the pre-printing process the fabric consisting of 100 single sheets is subjected to cleaning with water and by beating on stones in the river to remove all starch. It is then kept soaked in the river water for about 2 hours and then dried.

Bhatti process
The washed fabric is particular type of cloth called "Vichliya" is then subject to boiling process in the workshop in a bhatti or open boiler filled with a mixture of Aal (Alizarin), roots of Dhawdi flowers and water. This boiling process is done for 4 hours to ensure that the cloth is adequately dyed. After removing the cloth from the bhatti it is subject to cleaning process with water. There after in the next process, called the Tapai fabrics like cotton, tussar, crepe, and silk are soaked in the bhatti through the night, and then subject to drying after washing in the flowing river water. Then a mixture of excrement of goats, raw salt known locally as sanchura, castor oil and water is prepared in a cement bucket, and the fabric is immersed in it and stomped. In the next process cloth is subject to drying in layers on an inclined ground surface. The dried fabric is rinsed thoroughly in water, and prepared for printing.

The printing process is done in a wooden tray known locally as paliya, which is fabricated with bamboo lattice and coated with paste of black or red colour. Then the wet cloth is placed in the tray in layers and allowed to soak. The soaked fabric is taken out and spread over a stone slab covered with seven layers of jute, and then printing is done on the stretched cloth. After completion of printing the fabric, say a sari, is subject to drying for a period of eight days. At the penultimate stage of processing the cloth is rinsed in the flowing water of the Bagh River and dried. In the final process the fabric is immersed in a solution of dhawadi flowers (woodfordia fruticosa) and Ailzarin (root of Morinda Tinctoria). Tapai and drying follow. And finally, the Bagh print textile is ready.

Making of a printed silk fabric needs double the time than a fabric of cotton.


What is Bagh print used for?

Initially, Mohammed Yusuf Khatri, Mohammed Bilal Khatri, Mohammed Kazeem Khatri and their family made traditional dresses to meet the needs of various caste groups residing in the tribal region of Bagh; these dresses of the people of different castes and families had different dresses with specific identification tags of the tribal Bhil and Bhilala community. Some of the Kahtris, developed designs to meet urban taste in the later part of 1980s; these designs covered sarees, Shalwar kameez, covers for cushion and tables, block printed silk saree, tusser silk, silk stoll, scarf and so forth. Some the family members also did innovative wooden blocks and colours which were accepted in the National and International market for their long life; these included craft such as block printing on bamboo chik or mats, leather, jute and other material, besides cloth. It is said that Bagh Print on bamboo mats with natural colours was the first successful experiment in the world.

Where does Bagh print come from?

Bagh print is a craft from

Bagh, Madhya Pradesh, India