New age designers reinventing Dabu print- An ancient mud resist hand block print technique

In the last edition of the Lakmé Fashion Week x FDCI, fashion designer Anavila Misra showcased an exclusive collection — titled ‘Dabu’ — that celebrated the ancient mud-resist hand block printing technique from Rajasthan.

The fashion designer collaborated with Mahesh Dosaya, a local artisan from Rajasthan’s Bagru, and founder of Paramparik Craft. Visiting his workshop for the first time, she was in awe of the whole rustic set up. The process of creating beautiful, printed muslin fabrics on the tables with the use of sandy soil amidst the ribbing talks of women artisans left her spellbound.  

Inspired to work with the craft and touched by the enthusiasm of the artisans, we started working on our Spring-Summer collection, she shared.

Anavila Misra said that to bring forth something so rooted and close to the values we hold was worth every effort that was put into building the collection. “We wanted to show the sari in its raw form and hence chose to work on pre-colonial drapes. The artistry of our presentation was in twisting, knotting, and layering of the drapes, which gave each garment its unique shape and silhouette.”

Apart from Anavila Misra, Dabu print has caught the fancy of many other designers, including Alka Sharma who presented her Dabu designs — as part of her collection, ‘Miniature Moon’ — at the same event in 2019. Opening up about her experience of working with the age-old craft, she said, “After completing my education in the field of textile.

She started working with the Cluster of Chhippa community in Akola village of Chittorgarh which is associated with the Centre of the Study of Values, an organisation focused on the development of deprived tribal communities of southern Rajasthan.

The owner of the label Aaravan added that the collection was an ode to the heritage and artisans of India. “It’s an amalgamation of the East and the West that successfully embraces the mystical universe of Anne Vilsboll’s (a Danish painter) art while interpreting it through the mud-resist technique,” she added, further sharing that trough her brand.

Designer Avipsha Thakur also started Bunavat in 2019, who today, directly works with weavers and artisans to make traditional, sustainable and forgotten weaves and crafts of India, more accessible, aspirational and relevant for urban women.

Dosaya, who collaborated with Misra to create her latest collection, learnt Dabu from his father in 1992, and perfected it after observing his mother practice the craft. Commenting on his ‘enriching’ association with the atelier, he said, “Anavila introduced him to the contemporaries applications of Dabu print from a different point of view.

Vijendra Chippa, a native of Bagru, collaborated with Bunavat to create their textiles. He founded a social enterprise, Bagru Textiles, to sample and produce the print. They also hold workshops to create awareness among the younger generation and give them hands-on experience of printing. 

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