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© 2018 JETIR September 2018, Volume 5, Issue 9 www.jetir.

org (ISSN-2349-5162)

Living cultural traditions of indigenous clothe

printing: An in-depth-study of Bagh print
Zuber Hashmi*, Vinit Vishal**, Sulabh Singh***, Ashish Bhawalkar****


This study tries to explore the in-depth aspects of the handmade cloth printing using the blocks designed from taking the
inspiration from ‘Bagh’ cave paintings. The focus has been given to find the origin and connection of the prints from its local
environment and artifact. Apart from extensive literature survey, an in-depth interview of artisans and subject expert on the matter
have been taken and analysed to draw a conclusion. In the course of analysis, a chart has been prepared to segregate the clothe
type and its print pattern to make an understanding of the importance and the communicative values of the art form.

Bagh print is a traditional hand block print with natural colours. It is basically an indigenous handicrafts
practiced in Bagh village of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh. Bagh, which lends its name to the Bagh
prints, is a small tribal village/ town in the Kukshi tehsil of Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. Legend has it
that the village of Bagh, the Bagh River, and the nearby Bagh caves (3rd & 5th century AD, with rich
carvings and paintings dedicated to both Hindu as well as Buddhist deities) got their name from the baghs or
tigers that inhabited the region. The village, located on the Dhar-Kukshi road, has a population of about
12,000. The Bagh River flows at a distance of about a kilometer from the Dhar-Kukshi road.

The Chhipa community's migration from Sind is also said to be due to harassment by a Brahmin king. After
migrating from Sindh their first settlement was Pali (near Jodhpur in Rajasthan). Due to a severe famine
they moved to Gautampur in Malwa region. At that time a new railway line was being laid in Gautampur
which made them move from Gautampur to Manawar in Nimar district in Madhya Pradesh. Another factor
in favour of their decision to shift was the Bagh river's closeness to the Bagh village; the essential
requirement for vegetable dyeing is flowing water for washing which they felt was ideally possible from the
Bagh river.
Bagh Prints has "generational legacy". Ismail Khatri is the leading craftsman who migrated to Bagh village
with his group in the 1960s. He then gave shape and a new approach to the block printing technique which
was then in practice in a rudimentary form among 80 percent of the tribal people, known as adivasis of the
region. However, there was also a negative impact on this art form in the 1960s, as many craftsmen shifted
to adoption of synthetic fabrics. But Ismail Khatri adhered to his technique and made many improvisations.
One such practice he pursued was the old technique of reusing the traditional blocks of 200 to 300 years old,
which were patterns or designs of paintings in the 1,500-year-old cave paintings in the region.
Some of the block designs covered Nariyal Zaal and GhevarZaal based on the Taj Mahal paintings,Saj,
Dakmandwa, Chameli or jasmine, Maithir or Mushroom, Lehariya and Jurvaraor small dots on the field.
Other innovations introduced by Khatri are: blocks design of the jaali pattern from the Taj Mahal and forts
in the region; standardizing the use of primary colors of alum based red, and corroded filings of iron for
black; and developing vegetable based yellow and green dyes. His primary innovation was creating the
Bagh Print on different types of cloth by printing on them. His innovative design of a bed cover, which he

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printed with his patterns, consisted of a bed cover which had 1,200 different blocks which won him the
National Award in 1984.[1][5]
In 2011, this art form got a further boost when the Bagh`Prints design was adopted in a tableau theme of the
Madhya Pradesh state at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on 26 January 2011. Shal Bhanjika, the
celestial apsara of the 11th century fixed on the tableau was attired in this printed fabric.

Review of Literature:
Several studies have been done in general about clothe printing in India, but there are very few proper
researcheshave been done about ‘bagh’ print in particular. In a book about block prints from India for
textiles, with the same name have been published by field museum of natural history, Chicago, has
graphical representation and description of patterns and colors only. Published in 1924, the book has inputs
from Natural History series and Anthropology design series. Though not mentioned by name the book has
popularly identified designs from bagh block, and these have been identified as primitive. The book states
that “The use of wooden blocks to print or stamp designs on cloth, especiallycotton, is still quite common in
India, though by no means so general as informer years. The designs used vary considerably from place to
place, but themethod is much the same everywhere. Different woods are used in different parts of India.”
(Lewis, Buell Albert.(1924), “Block prints from India for textiles” Anthropology Design Series no.1
Field museum of natural history, Chicago )

In a study about design motifs “It is significant to note that, whereas the designs were named by the local
language and local style in use, the designs of printing have been named after vegetables, birds or animals
and other objects of nature. In dyeing, the names of colours also were not red, green or yellow, as they are
called today. The colour names also in vogue reflected nature and life, such as kasumal (red), toruphooli
(yellow), moongiya (dark green), rata etc.”.
(Ganguly, Debojyoti& , Amrita. (2013). A brief studies on block printing process in India. 41. 197-

Another study focuses on technical aspects and elaborating aboutdyes on textile, in bagh printing, it has
been identified that “In Bagh printing, only vegetable dyes are used, the main colors being black and red.
For black color, a mixture of ‘harada’ and iron ore is used. For red, a mixture of alum and ‘dhavda’ flower is
used. These dyes are extracted and prepared locally.”
(Craftmark, handmade in India, ‘Bagh Block Printing)

 To find out the origin of the Bagh print.
 To understand the importance of Bagh prints.
 To analyses the communicative value of Bagh print.

Research Methodology
For this study researcher used In-depth methodology. In this research data is collected with the help of
interview tool from experts on the subjects as well as the craftsmen of Bagh print which is primary data.
Researcher also used secondary data for analysis. These techniques were selected based on the nature of the

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study and its usefulness in obtaining required data. Researcher consulted websites , research papers and
online articles in which Bagh print and its process and effectiveness is described. Observation method is
also used by the researcher to collect the small nuances, details to fulfill the data requirement for the study.

Data Analysis
The Bagh prints have its origin from the ancient era Bagh cave paintings that inspired the motifs of the
blocks of this region. These caves are situated on the bank of Baghini river, which before being discovered
were habitats of the national animal tiger, called Bagh in Hindi. These caves and its paintings have been
identified as old as over 1,500 years old. Though the paintings are of Buddhist monks and deities, but the
surrounding elements of flora and fauna are the real sources of inspiration for the motifs of the Bagh prints.
These Prints have evolved over a period of thousand years. After watching the backgrounds of the cave
paintings, one can easily identify the elements that have come from the caves to the famous Bagh print
designs. The inspiration for prints like these speaks up for its origin in nature. There are motifs made of
blocks of flowers, plants and indigenous fruits that mark the unique feature of this print.

Ibrahim Moosa, a second-generation migrant, told that based on traditional motifs inspired by the 1,500-
year-old paintings found in caves in the region. These motifs include ‘chameli’ or jasmine, ‘maithir’ or
mushroom, leheriya and jurvaria or small dots on the field.

The local flora and fauna not only have marked the uniqueness but also have evolved like the use of grains,
roots and leaves on the print of this region. The wider area in Madhya Pradesh, these motifs collectively
come from are in Malwa region. Some of them are Kukshi, Bagh, Manawar, Bherugarh, Indore,
Gautampura, Jawad, Tarapur and Ummedpur. If we take a broader look at the print history of the region,
Bagh print as a brand is comparatively new. It printers settled here around 50 to 60 years ago. The motifs
used are old, as the settler community of printers adopted the old blocks used by the tribal of Bagh.

Tracing the history, it can be found that famous historian, Raghuveer Singh, in his book, ‘Malwa in
Transition or a Century of Anarchy-1698 to 1795 has quoted Travernier, the famous merchant traveler that
“Malwa was famous for its abundantly available printed cloths of the region. It was known as ‘Chheent’ and
it used to be exported”. Singhhas mentioned a place Sironj, “here cloths not only appeared pleasant but it
used to get better with each wash. These cloths become even better when they are washed in the river in
monsoon”. These ‘Chheent’ of Malwa used to be exported to Persia (Iran), where it was used in various
ways. There has been found a historical account of these prints during the Muslim reign of Mandu.*
Traditional printers have settled here for over 600 years. The Nimar region and its prints, which are famous
for its original and minutely detailed designs of Alizarin print, be it from, Kukshi, Tarapur, Ummedpuror
Bagh, today are collectively famous as Bagh Print.

Clothing And Printing:

Cloth printing was being done according to the interests and traditions of Tribals of the land. Traditionally,
these can be divided in two basic categories.

 First- ‘Odhni’ a small wrapping cloth for women.

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 Second- ‘Lugda’, Tribal Lugda has its spread around twise the size of ‘Odhni’. There is another
famous term ‘Pomcha’. Pomcha is a type of Odhni having a single colored foreground. It can be of
red, black and purple colored.

Further classification and patterns can be illustrated properly through this table-

Clothes Classification
Name Description Image
Odhni Piece of cloth of
small length

Lugda Piece, that is almost

twice the length of

Types of Base Colours

Name Description Image
Red Pomcha Odhni having only red-
coloured fore-ground in
the middle

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Black Pomcha Odhni having only

dark-colored fore-
ground in the middle

Purple (Jamuni) Odhni having only

Pomcha purple-colored fore-
ground in the middle

Colour Pigment (Natural Colours)

Vegetables Green Vegetables
Fruits Mangos (raw & ripe),
Pomigrenut, Jamun,

Flowers Poppy, Genda, Kesar,


Anaaj Jwar (millet), wheat
Sajni ka phool

Designs and Patterns

Bod Blocks of Bigger boota
Saaj 4-inch-wide border under

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Janjeeri Put under saaj

Gad Wool filled blocks
Rekh Thin and long lines
Kor Edge portion

Types of Odhni
Lehariya Weavy design on
single coloured
background of red or

Chhidri Bel-boota design in the

centre, generally white
boota on red
Atthta Eight-sided shape
design of red colour
used mainly for new-

Lugda 6-10 hand length,

having 6 designs
having plain centre
portion, used for
newlywed brides in
bheel and bhilala
Kheda lugda 6 kehda designs having
laheriya in centre, used
by Bhilala and Patlya
Tribe women
Abottya Printed in only red
color with white
background, having
three designs, used in
general day to day
Peelya Yllowlugda having red
and green designs,
green birds are printed
between the two edges,
used specially by

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Bheel, Bhilala fathers

as a gift to daughters
given birth to a child.
Charsa 3-4 hand length lugda
having 5 designs, used
to give gift newlywed
Molya 6-10 hand length long
and 5 feet wide, having
‘Gad’ design with 4
types of blocks called
Paatka It is like ghaghra
(skirt), worn by brides
during marriage
ceremony, having
black or red color on
white background
Holgi Earlier made with
bandhej now with
blocks only, having
one and quarter meter
in length and one meter
in width used by
bridegrooms during
marriage ceremony.
Jaajam Bed spread

Region of Prominence
Gogaon All regions are spread on
Bishthaan the banks of river
Bheekangaon Narmada, bagini,
Sindhwa providing settlement to
Khirala the dexterous migrants
Khandwa from ancient Sindh
Ojhar region.
Kukchhi In modern times
Manawar collectively contributing
Bag to constitute design
Maheshwar popularly known as Bagh.

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Block Design
Neembu Developed over
Aamkiguthli a period of
time, taking
from the local
flora and fauna,
establishing the
Ban (Van) symbiotic
Rath (gangor) relationship of
Makhhi (seven human beings
types) with nature
Kheda around.
Keri boota
Booti Bod
Indori Bod
Janjoori (Boeder)
Aariya (Bareek
Laheriya (8Types)
Nandra ka genda

Neela Called dabu print,
from bhairugarh.
Generally, in Indigo
colour but at times in
red and purple also.
Marked with various
symbol and stuffed
with rich designs.
Wheat’s print is most
popular. Community
wise used, like, sutai,
cobbler, or menial
workers used red or
black lugda; Gardner
used white
background ‘boondi’
marked lugda. Its
specialty is it is

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called ‘Neela’ based

on print design,
colour may or may
not be blue.
Bherugarh 7 blocks are used in
a sequential manner,
signifying different
Dhoti jode Used by commercial
community women,
blocks used are
boota, patashi,
shahtoot, Peepal leaf,
mango shoot etc.
Bohranilugda Used by bohra
community women,
having border, boota,
kinari, with dark
colour inside. Used
for religious
Rehbari Used by rebari
women, having
bohraboota having
different border.
Gendachunri Worn specially by
tribal women, having
white, yellow and
green over red
Rajaikhol not lugda- used for quilt cover,
give a nominclature having two colours
Jaajam used as spread sheet
over floor having
light pink tone with
different blocks of
horse, elephant etc.
Safra / Dastarkhan Rectangular in shape
having round shaped
block prints, used by
Muslim and bohra
Palangposh Having net or border
design on edges. It
has ‘kerry’ and key-
stamp as main blocks
backgrounds of
saffron, green,
purple, yellow etc.
Jaanamaz 45-inch-long and 20-

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rectangular piece
having, border and
minarets used for
sacred purpose.
Jhadia Having border
design and minute
‘boota’ design in
black and red color.
Kishangarhichhenth Prepared in red
colour print and with
Dabucoloured indigo

 What is the specialty of Bagh-print?
This is basically alizarin print. This is alum printing. This is same as Bag, Rajasthan, Gujarat and
other places Like Neemachh, Kukshi etc. This bag print is not a separate specified print. This is a
kind of Alizareen print.
Bag is comparatively new center. It is almost 40 to 50 years old.Its original place is in Kukshi. The
people here have come from Manavar. Places near to bagh like Dhar district. Workers here have an
expertise in printing on the cloth using blocks and second thing is that they use blocks with minute
detail. Rest there is no difference in the technique.
Bagh does it in a stratified way, like Kachh print. The main nature is alizarin (alum) print. The basic
difference is in the expertise they have got and another basic difference in the use of water. The
difference in color comes due to the use of water. The water of the Bagini river has an excess of
copper percentage, that’s whay there is a brightness in the work done at Bag. There is a distinct
shine, which is not due to the craftsmen or other factors but because water is special here. The
technique is same, the procedures are same clothes comes from same mills difference is in water. If
you visit bag, you will see that people here work sitting on mats lying on the ground. Blocks in bag
are smalls. Smaller the blocks more perfect it looks. Designing keep changing but basic thing is

 What is the authenticity?

Workers tell you authentic history. They have been dwelling in the region for past 800 to 900 years
they have been associated with this work for 700 to 800 years. There is an oral history. Oral history
has its own time span, transformation happens, things keep adding into it. New legend gets added,
some things are left behind, such thins will be there.
 What is the significance of makhhi-print? Is there any relevance of it regarding social status
(of the people who use it)?
There is no such social relevance; actually, there are different tribes, those tribes used to have their
different costumes. There is juwaaria of jwar (oats-print), there is ‘laheria’, it has its variance from
‘indorielaheriya’. Similarly, someone might have had identified this print with makhhi, it became
popular like that over a period of time.

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 Link with folk songs.

There are two things to understand. Printers are not tribes. These printers print it for tribes. There is
no special song for any particular tribe. Rajasthan has a larger tradition. Tribals have their songs but
not linked Bag-print here.

 Prints in tradition.
When we go out to people in society we try to dress well. Like in Rajasthan it has variance according
to things. It is not such here. Things evolve over a period of time. Here printers use local flora-fauna.
Designs evolve taking the essence of its region. Since initial times there used to be an Indian
specialty in what we wear. It (Designs) used to make things interesting and used to break monotony
in society. Eyes need colours. If it lacks in nature humans fulfill it accordingly. If there is no color
available in the surrounding then people invent it and that is what is seen on the cloths.

 Have you seen such prints anywhere else other than cloths?
This (The use of prints) evolve over a period of time. There are people in bag, who have Gangore-
prints.There used to be elephant- prints, which women used to have on head. You will find mango or
Kerry-prints everywhere. Though I have not worked on this aspect but the relationship apparent
can’t be denied. Bhhittichitra has its own different world. It is used at other places. Cloths are the
best medium to work over with the print.

 Does it communicate with us?

It is there at places like Vishnoi community can be identified with their traditional head gear ‘pagdi’.
If a Bheelni (woman from Bheel tribe) has worn its odhni and it carries turmeric color mark over it
then you can identify her as a newlywed bride. Similarly, various design patterns can communicate
about the places a tribal belongs to like whether she is from ‘chhota Udaipur’ or Manawar or
Nandiwara. Not only this, in rajasthan if people start wearing white then it means that the color of
festival Holi is arriving and if someone is wearing black ‘pagdi’ then it says that the Deewali season
has started. It does convey a message and is a way of communication of status in society. If a person
belongs to ‘Baniya’ community then by observing the design and pattern of their attire, you can
identify a person as a ‘Baniy’, if a person belongs to Brahmin caste then its clothing would be
different. It has been used to identify a person belonging to scheduled caste or tribe. We have this
long-distinguished tradition (in India). It does signify and communicate things, which has both been
used and misused. There are both aspects of it. We can take it negatively or positively both. During
old times, people used to identify their own or neighboring community or clan members. People
used to identify whether you are from Udaipur or Chhota Udaipur, Chhota Nagpur or Gujarat or
somewhere else. It used to be a well established been a medium of communication.

The conclusion of the work done during the study it has been observed by the researchers that the origin of
the Bagh print is somehow 1500-1600 years old, because no source gives exact timeline to the origin it has
to be accepted on the behalf of craftsmen, experts comments and the secondary data available in context to
Bagh print. Every Bagh print block has its own communicative value as it is directly connected to the
nature. Some prints such as pomegranate, mango (keri) tells you about seasons, some imprints such as
nimboo (lamon)Juaaria(Millet) tells about the direct relationship of the human beings with the nature.

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 Mishra, Chinmay. (
 Lewis, Buell Albert.(1924), “Block prints from India for textiles” Anthropology Design Series no.1
Field museum of natural history, Chicago
 Bechtold T., A. Mahmud-Alia and R. Mussaka. 2007. Natural dyes for textile dyeing: A comparison
of methods to assess the quality of Canadian golden rod plant material. Dyes and Pigments, 75(2):
 Chakraborty, May 11 (2009) “Application of Eco –Friendly Vegetable Dyes on Cotton Fabric.”
 Frigerio, M. 1992. Natural dyes. Tinctoria, 89(12):46-54.
 Liles, I. N.. Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, Paperback UTN.
 Ganguly, Debojyoti& , Amrita. (2013). A brief studies on block printing process in India. 41. 197-


 First Author – Zuber Hashmi, PhD Course work, MCRPVV Bhopal. zuberrocks@gmail.com
 Second Author – Vinit Vishal, PhD Course work, MCRPVV Bhopal, vinivishal@gmail.com.
 ThirdAuthor– Sulabh singh, PhD Course work, MCRPVV Bhopal, work.sulabhsingh@gmail.com
 Fourth Author – Ashish Bhawalkar, PhD Course work, MCRPVV Bhopal,
 Corresponding Author-- Zuber Hashmi, PhD Course work, MCRPVV Bhopal,
zuberrocks@gmail.com Contact no. 8103011302

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