How to discover the art and beauty of hand block printing in Rajasthan’s capital
Ever wondered, how the capital of the Indian state Rajasthan – Jaipur – looks like off the beaten tourist tracks? Tired of your guide, who lures you into another cotton fabric shop in order to collect his provision? (Which – just to be clear – he/she has every right to do so.)
You just need to make that one step further and you can discover „Hidden Jaipur“. You sure want to see the famous Amer Fort, as do 5000 other tourists together with you a day. This UNESCO World Heritage site is simply one of the most impressive landmarks of Rajput architecture and is situated on top of a hill, just a few kilometres north of Jaipur.
However, after having discovered the fort, say good bye to your guide for two or three hours: Take the back exit of the Amer Fort and follow the main street down the hill into the small village of Amer. Its just a 10 minutes wall: You will cross a step well and an ancient Hindu temple and then arrive at the Anokhi museum of handprinting set-up by the ethnic fashion brand in an old Haveli. Renovated with great care and attention to details, the building in itself is well worth the visit. Even in the hottest of Rajasthani summers, with temperatures reeling at 50 degrees celsius, inside the Haveli you will find it remarkably pleasant. A small kiosk also offers refreshing drinks and snacks.
The museum is dedicated to the art of hand block printing and explains in easy to follow steps the different types and techniques of block prints, according to the region or villages, the clothes and the occasions to wear them, as well as the art of natural dye. On the roof top, you can watch an artisan crafting wooden blocks, which are essential to the variety of ornaments and patterns in Rajasthani block printing.
The museum has also become a place of learning, passing on the centuries old art of hand block printing to artisans themselves as well as an interested audience through workshops and publications. Hand printing techniques are being pushed into marginalized sectors and face harsh competition by the mass production of the Indian and wider Asian textile industry.
Don’t miss the museum’s shop, as it sells rare pieces you might not find in the commercial Anokhi shop in Jaipur.