Sanganeri Block printing is a unique form of hand block printing that has its origins in Sanganer, a quaint village on the outskirts of Jaipur known for its exquisite floral and nature-inspired patterns.
During the tumultuous late 16th and early 17th centuries, as conflict raged between the Marathas and the Mughals, artisans from the Chippa community in Gujarat sought refuge and a place to practice their craft. Their sanctuary was found in the patronage of the royal family of Jaipur, who aspired to transform Jaipur into a flourishing trade hub. This era coincided with the migration of Chippa artisans, and they were cordially invited to settle and practice their craft in and around Jaipur.
The Chippa, primarily a subset of the Kshatriya warrior caste, searching for new means of livelihood, initially settled in the Nagaur region of Rajasthan. They honed their skills in the art of dyeing and printing textiles, later dispersing to nearby kingdoms to ply their trade. This transition led to the adoption of the name "Chippa," derived from "Chappa" or "Chaapna," meaning "to print." Due to the political upheaval caused by the Maratha-Mughal conflict, the migrated Chippa communities were allotted land in Sanganer, Bagru, and Jahota villages, which already had practicing dyers and bleachers. This advantageous environment allowed each settlement to establish itself independently in the printing industry by making the most of their local resources and crafting their distinctive identity. This is how the renowned Sanganeri, Bagru, and Jahota prints came into existence around 400 years ago, and they continue to thrive to this day.
What set Sanganeri prints apart from the other two was its proximity to the royal family, which inspired their choice of motifs, and the abundance of water from the Saraswati River, which bestowed a unique radiance upon Sanganeri printed fabrics. In the early days of block printing in Sanganer, the Chippa community served three types of patrons: the nobility and courtiers, temple devotees, and the general public. The most sophisticated printing and dyeing techniques were reserved for royal garments. The selection of motifs for these different clientele segments was also quite discernible, with motifs for temple devotees and the general public drawing inspiration from indigenous flora and fauna. In contrast, motifs for the royals and courtiers often incorporated foreign flora and fauna. As Sanganeri prints gained exposure to foreign clientele over time, they introduced more designs and innovations to their craft.