Updated: Aug 21
As we look forward to our international travels again, let's see what the exciting India Textile Tour (2021) has in store.
In my many years of travels and adventures through India, as well as my passion for textiles and crafts in general, I have put together a group tour that will take the traveler to destinations in India where processes like weaving, hand block printing, and dyeing of textiles can be experienced first hand.
So let us explore 5 fabulous things to look forward to on the tour.
Famous villages for hand block printing in Rajasthan
Hand block printing, a labor-intensive process that requires skill, time, and patience from the artisan. Each family of artisans has a collection of carved patterned teak-wood blocks which form the basis of what is known as their "wealth". These are soaked in oil overnight and then washed for use to print the designs on to textiles.
The textile to be printed is soaked in a solution of clay and other chemicals to soften and then dried in preparation for printing. The artisan will then systematically stamp the teak-wood blocks, which are dipped into a dye, onto the textile. After the printing process, the cloth is then left in the sun to dry and final touches will be applied. This art form is practiced in the following villages:
Bagru is a small, famous village known for its unmatchable age-old wooden block printing. This village has been responsible for making the well 'Bagru Print' a well known commercial brand in the textile trade.
Floral and block prints are a specialty of Sanganer. The area is also famous for its quality handmade paper.
On arrival in this village, you'll see artisans making beautiful textiles using natural colors.
The local villagers are very friendly and willingly interact with visitors.
Textile producing villages in Gujarat
Patan - Patola Sari
These saris are very expensive, once worn only by those belonging to royal and aristocratic families. Patola-weaving is a closely guarded family tradition and it is said to be taught to the sons in the family only. There are three families in Patan that weave these highly prized saris. It can take six months to one year to make one sari due to the long process of dying each strand separately before weaving them together.
Nirona Village - Rogan Artwork
Rogan is the technique of painting on fabric, crafted from a thick brightly colored paint-like substance made with castor seed oil. Castor is a local crop grown in Kachchh. Artisans place a small amount of this paste into their palm and at room temperature, the paint is carefully twisted into motifs and patterns using a metal rod. This metal rod never comes in contact with the fabric. The artisan then folds the fabric, thereby printing its mirror image and also creating a symmetric design. In effect, it is a very basic form of printing but the designs are very intricate. Earlier, the designs used to be more rustic but over time this craft has evolved and become more stylized, intricate, and fine.
Bhuj Villages - Embroidery and Ajrak Work
Sumrasar Village has Kala Raksha a famous Textile NGO with a focus on embroidery. The goal of the NGO is to empower women in the region by developing their skills with a focus on textile handicrafts.
Bhirindiyara, Hodka, Dhoro Villages each display skills of their artisans who make beautiful embroideries, colorful inlaid mirror work, and leatherwork. The different villages have people belonging to the Rabari, Meghwal, Harijans, Mutwa communities.
The Khatris community in Kutch is proficient in Ajrak Work.
Bhujodi Village where visitors can experience the shawls weavers plow their trade.
Workshops and demos
India has great textile museums, the two major museums that form part of the itinerary for the tour are:
Anokhi Museum - Jaipur ("a little gem of a museum')
The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing located in a magnificently restored haveli (mansion) is dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of hand-printed textiles. The museum houses permanent collections as well as changing exhibitions which cover a broad range of subjects from contemporary design and fashion to traditional materials and artisans. The collection consists of a varied selection of block-printed textiles alongside images, tools, and related objects—all chosen to provide an in-depth look into the complexity of this ancient tradition.
Calico Museum of Textiles
One of the foremost textile museums and a celebrated institute in Indian textiles around the world. Its remarkable collection of fabrics spanning varied and remote regions of India exemplifies handicraft textiles across five centuries. The textiles were collected with a vision to conserve, build awareness, and empower the vast and deep textile heritage of India.
Magnificent heritage sites
Rani ki Vav (“Queen’s Stepwell”) in Patan, commissioned by Queen Udayamati about 1060 to commemorate her deceased spouse. Its enormous scale - 64 meters long and 20 meters wide. The Rani ki Vav was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014.
Modhera, the beautiful and partially ruined sun temple of Modherra was built by King Bhimdev I (1026-27) and bears some resemblance to the later, far better known, Sun Temple of Konark, Orissa. It was designed so that the dawn sun shines on the image of sun God at the time of the equinoxes.
This magnificent itinerary promises to bring the traveler into the rural heart of an area of India which is rich in textile tradition and culture.
I invite you to post a comment at the end of the blog so that I can get your view about this tour, or if you would rather join my mailing list, I would welcome your participation.
Full itinerary here: https://www.curiousjourneys.co.za/textile-tour-india-2021