Take some chunks of wood and place them in the hands of a skilled block maker, add dashes of different colours and it is possible to turn a blank piece of fabric into a work of art.
India has a very ancient tradition of block printing dating back probably as far as the Indus Valley civilisation, around 3500 to 1300 BC. Which means it is all the more wonderful that it still features in so much of our every day life, from sarees to shirts, scarves to bags, table linen to soft toys.
It is a labour intensive activity and with good training and practice even people misshapen hands can learn and earn a living.
So let us start with a finished look.
Each of these squares of pattern is made by using three different wooden blocks and three different colours.
First is the outline block
Which is printed first onto the fabric -
Then some colour is added with this second block -
Here Dilshad is placing the second block inside the outline and so filling up the design with colour -
And finally this is the third block which includes some small leaves and buds -
Beside the printers are these wonderful pads of colours. Each time they need to use the block they dip it into the pad of colour -
Dilshad's hands are badly damaged by burns but she is a skilled block printer and is now supervising the work of other block printers with disabilities in the Rehab and Training Unit of Hubli Hospital for the Handicapped.
Click on the images below to order anything that takes your fancy.