Dabu Clay Resist Hand Block Printing, Deesa


Craft Revival Trust

Craft Revival Trust
New Delhi, India

Located in the northern most region of Gujarat, Deesa is sited on the banks of the river Banas which in the past provided the mineral rich waters for the textiles colors to blossom in its wash. The local populace provides the clientele for the full length drawstring gathered ghagara skirts, the head mantle odhnis, the saris and the pagdi head turbans. Skilled printers juggle the choice of the cotton textile base according to the final outfitting while selecting the motifs, planning their placement and dying the colors according to their clients ritual requirements.

The layout for the sari takes into consideration the pallu end piece, the borders and the patterning in the field, the ghagaras, a minimum 10 meter hardwearing cotton length, requiring borders on two sides; the head mantle with its four sided border, a central motif and overall patterning, while the pagdi requires its own orientation.

Deep claret, iron-black, white and indigo-blue supplemented with turmeric yellow and green form the traditional color palette at Deesa. Natural dyes such as pomegranate and turmeric are also used to achieve a wider range of colors, with synthetic dyes gaining popularity for their ease of use.

While the block printers in Deesa are known for their Dabu clay-resist process of block printing, they are adept at wax-resist printing and discharge printing too, with however only three families continuing to practice this art there the inevitable danger of its fading away looms large.


  • Title: Dabu Clay Resist Hand Block Printing, Deesa
  • Date: 2009
  • Location: Deesa, Gujarat
  • Provenance: Craft Revival Trust Archive

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