I am an IAS officer. My love towards my country has contributed to my success. India is a land with profound cultural diversity. It is important to realize that from mines to palaces anywhere in India you may come across exquisite art forms. Not only the uncountable art styles are globally acclaimed but also the new generation is trying to revive them. Have you noticed the beautiful motifs and designs on your kurtas, shirts, kurtis, folders, bedsheets, pillow covers, laptop covers etc? I find the symmetrical printed designs captivating. I had heard about block printing which is a technique to imprint the designs. Markedly, I was more curious about wooden block making . I had heard about block printing but not about making wooden blocks for printing.
With that in mind I decided to learn the art of carving blocks and printing those designs. I would really like to appreciate Rajasthan Studio for making it possible. Rajasthan Studio ‘s curated Masterclass Workshop regarding the art of making wooden blocks with Gayyur Ahmed Ji was an amazing art experience.
The capital city of the royal state , Rajasthan or the Pink City is predominantly an art centric city. There is art in everything in Jaipur. The most compelling evidence is observing the handicrafts, jewelry, stone carving, monuments or the variety of food dishes you will come across. Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Johari Bazaar (Gemstone Market) , Jaipuri Cotton Industry are some of the remarkable examples that speak about the skill and talent of the artisans here.
While visiting Rajasthan, Jaipur mostly is the first enlisted travel destination in the travel itinerary. You will notice the perfection in the town planning because Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh 2 constructed the city in 1727 with advice of the architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya, who planned city on the principles of Vastu Shastra and Shilp Shastra.
The Process of Wooden Block Making:
Firstly, the wood is cut into pieces and polished using a primitive machine. The primitive machine at Gayyur Ahmed Ji’s place was safe to use. Consequently, on the upper surface of the wood, the desired design is traced using pencil and printed design on the paper.
The carving work started actually after this. Each point on the outline is carved and made deeper by holding a nail and hitting it with a wooden hammer or wooden log. This requires immense focus and patience to hit the nail rightly. The depth of the carving decides the perfection of the final printing. Once the carved block is ready, thereafter they dip the carved surface into natural dyes or colours. The carved block is ready to imprint the designs on the desired surface.
Wooden Block Making With Gayyur Ahmed Ji:
Rajasthan Studio helped me to reach Gayyur Ahmed Ji’s work studio. I got engrossed in examining the framed wooden blocks. One would be lost in fathoming the depth and intricacies of the wooden block carved. Most complex designs with detailed carving were just marvelous. Additionally, I saw how block printing enhanced the beauty of fabrics.
Gayyur Ahmed Ji started explaining the process of carving. He is not only interactive but also honest. Gayyur Ahmed Ji expressed the challenges that the artisans are facing. He shared how his family came to Jaipur from Karachi, during the time of partition. Since then Jaipur is their home. During the workshop he informed me about the differences between Lucknowi block printing and Jaipuri block printing.
Significantly, I raised a question. Why is hand block printing better than modern printing style? ‘Old is gold.’ The thought resonated in my mind after his answer. He explained that hitting the nail gives precise depth for the dyes to get in. As a result, the final output is extraordinary. In modern carving and printing styles, you miss out on the precision.
The Message, I Wish To Convey…
I had never heard about wooden block carving. I only knew about wooden block printing. This learning experience was my once in a lifetime experience. Even, he made me do it successfully. Additionally, I have got a DIY kit so that I can practice it too. We are so inclined to the internet that we are not able to diversify our hobbies. Tourism has become more experiential so try to experience the culture and art of the place. Spend 3-4 hours experiencing the art of that place.
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