Bagru block printing traditionally uses vegetable dye colors such as indigo/dabu (a mixture of mud resist dabu and indigo dip dyeing techniques) and harda (which is a yellow base color).
The “recipes” for Bagru style vegetable dye prints have been preserved for many generations by the artisans’ families. Many of the dyes require months of curing for the desired color to develop. Weather, water quality, and changes in the crops, all affect the vegetable dye.
Dabu printing technique using mud resist paste and sawdust
demonstrated by Nandalal Ji.
Once the fabric has been printed with the dabu paste (mixture of mud), it is sprinkled with saw dust and left to dry in the sun, then dip dyed in a vat of indigo and set to dry (shown here). The dabu mixture then washes off and the fabric then displays the pattern stamped in the dye resist. This process can be repeated several times to get several shades of indigo in different simple patterns across the fabric. Shown to the right is a mixture of old horse shoes and jaggery (unrefined brown sugar) which is 'curing' and will become the mixture (iron solution) that when printing onto a fabric dyed with the golden harda color, will turn a warm black. This is due to the chemical reaction between the naturally high tannin content in harda with the iron solution. For detailed information on the process, click here to view a Guide to Printing.