It is said that Bagru and Dabu hand block printing began around 450 years ago in a small village in Rajasthan. When the Chippa community travelled from Sawai Madhopur, Alwar and settled in Bagru, they started pacticing this craft. The place began to be called as Chippa Mohalla where Chippa translates to ‘to print’ in Gujarati and ‘to dye and leave in sun’ in Nepali. Their proximity to a water body (Sanjaria riverside) led to ease in access of clay which is one of the main raw materials required for this art.   

Another story associated with the beginning of this craft is when the Thankur community desired to make their town the centre for Bagru printing. For this, they brought two families of printers from a village (Isarda) near Jaipur. In Bagru, dark colored patterns are printed on cream backgrounds. While in Dabu, light colored motifs are printed on a dark base. It is said that Dabu began when a local dyer noticed that his dhoti resisted indigo dye because of the presence of mud in those spots.

The motifs include aath Kaliya, chopad (checks), kamal, patashi, jhad, jaali (trellises), leher (waves), kangura (trangles). Red, black and maroon are the colors used in bagru printing and indigo is mainly used for dabu. Natural colors like indigo for blue, worn out iron and jaggery for black, indigo and pomegranate peels for greens, madder for red, turmeric or marigold or potassium dichromate and imli seed powder for yellow, ferrous sulphate (black kashish) and indigo for coffee color, neem for lemon yellow, manjishtha for rust pink, are used. Earlier, there was complete dependency on natural colors. Currently, that is not the case.



The fabric is soaked in water for 3 days for desizing and to remove starch, stains, oil. The water is changed daily. The scoured fabric is dried in the sun. Without this step, the dyes won’t penetrate the fabric properly.


The fabric is mordanted with harda which is rich in tannic acid. This acid helps in binding the printed dyes to the fabric. The resultant yellow tinted fabric is dried in the sun.


The fabric is laid on large printing tables where it is printed with wooden blocks using natural dyes. First, the background block (gaj) is printed, then the outline block (rekh) and finally the filler blocks (datta) are used.


Local dark dry mud (kaali mitti), gaur gum (gond), calcium hydroxide (chuna) and wheat powder (bidhan) are soaked in water in separate containers overnight. The next morning, gond, chuna and bidhan are mixed well and added to the soaked mud to form a paste. This mixture is passed through a sieve.


The formulated paste is used for printing and is sprinkled with sawdust. The sawdust helps in the prevention of fabric sticking to itself during the dyeing process.


The fabric is dyed in a cold indigo bath and the mud acts as a resist leaving those areas printed with mud colorless.


For the colors to penetrate into the fabric, it is dried for 3-4 days.


To remove the extra color, the fabric is washed with water. While washing, care is required for bagru printed fabrics to avoid spotting.


The fabric is boiled with alizarin dye and dhawadi flowers for 3 hours. The alizarin acts as a color fastener and the dhawadi flowers help in cleaning the yellow tint of harda from the fabric. Finally the fabric is washed and died in the sun.