Dabu printing

Dabu is a printing technique from Rajasthan, India.

First, the fabric is washed in large pits. Dried cow dung and other natural soaps help remove the impurities in the fabric and it allows the dye to cling better to the fabric when it is dipped.

Dabu printing uses a mud resist printed by hand carved wooden blocks to create the patterns.

This special mud paste is a mixture of Kali Mitti (black mud collected from the lake beds and specially from areas where buffaloes have waded as this clay is well ground due to their movement and weight, Gur (jaggery), Gond (edible gum) and Chuna (lime).

Dabu acts as mechanical resist and prevents the penetration of dye during dyeing on areas covered with the paste. Sawdust is then sprinkled over the fabric to absorb water from the dabu paste and gives an extra hardness to the mud.
The art of making dabu paste is kept secret and every family has its own recipe to make the paste and is freshly prepared before every printing.

Depending on the design, the dyed fabric may be printed with another round of mud and the dyeing process repeated.
After printing, the fabric is left outside in the sun to dry for three days before dipping it in indigo or other dyes. 

When the fabric printed with dabu is dry, it is ready to dip into the dye vats. Some indigo vats have not been emptied for decades, but a new amount of indigo is added to the vat for every dying cycle. Various tones of blue are achieved by dipping the cloth extra times - the more dips, the deeper the colour.

Once again, the fabric is laid out on the ground to dry in the sun before the final stage of washing to remove the mud and excess dye.





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