The word ethnic is related to the cultural ties, the traditions and something also sacred to that specific land. Today we see the word ethic being connected to almost anything and everything. There is ethnic food, ethnic wear, ethnic themes, or ethnic music etc.

When we are talking about ethnic designs, what I mean is the designs or rather the prints on the fabrics. This is one class of textile design which is connected to the roots of the culture and tradition of people and definitely has geographical indications (GI).

Let us see our country. India expands from Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari in the south; Rajasthan in the west and Bengal in the east. Each of our states is known for their specialities in terms of textiles. The Kashmiri textiles can be distinguished by the usage of woollen fibres in their garments. The embroideries of this place are known for the motifs of paisleys' done in bright attractive colours. Again the speciality of these paisleys is that they are more elongated and tubular in shape. To make things easier this art is now converted into prints and printed fabrics are produced to give ethnic look with these paisleys. But the origin is not forgotten.

Rajasthan meaning is the "land of kings." It is located in the northwest of India. This is the biggest state of India in terms of land are and one of the largest desert of the worlds the Thar desert lies in this state .The state is known for its royal Rajputs clan (Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when the region known until then as Rajputana, consisting of erstwhile 18 states, the forts), art of music and very colourful fabrics with the most sensational mirror works and embroideries.

The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, and embroidery are majorly carried out in this state and are known worldwide.

Tie and dye

Bandhej is the form of tie and dye known in Rajasthan which is believed to have originated some 5000years ago. Dyes used are of natural origin either from leaves of plants, bark, flowers, fruits etc. Tie and dye is one ethnic design which finds its origin in the state of Rajasthan.

Various tie and dye methods are available and developed to produce different effects onto the fabric. Most known ones are the Lehriya, Mothda, Ekdali and Shikari effects which create beautiful patterns. The tying of the thread is the important step in tie and dye, it involves the techniche or rather the style in which the fabric is tied.

Ikat is a famous and well known art of producing self woven prints which requires dyes warp or weft threads, which are tactfully dyed using tie and dye method. A specialty of Rajasthan is the Leheriya or Chundari where the fabric is tied to create stripes instead of the usual dots.


Designs are known by their names such as mountain design, dol design and kite design. Dots are used to make up the designs. A different colour on either side is also practiced by the craftsmen.

Lehariya has long lines in a variety of colours found all over the body of the sari or dress material. Turbans are also a good outcome. The lehariya cloths have their own names depending on the designs. Bandhanis are related to festivals, seasons and rituals for which there are particular patterns and colours.

Lehariya is very popular as part of high-end Asian fashion because of its intricate work, touch of tradition, and glamour appeal. The longer this process takes, the more stunning your outfit is! Lehriya fabric is so much in demand in the fashion world; the print goes well for all themes like retro, punk and conventional.

The most in trend are the Lehriya duppattas and scarves.n Designers are using them in most of their collections. They are worn by almost all the age groups especially those in love with ethnic designs. Almost all our bollywood movie stars adore these Lehriya duppattas. Lehriya print is known for their vibrancy and it actually accentuates the body curves.

Block Print:

The beautiful art of block Printing employs wooden or metal blocks to print designs and patterns on fabric, by hand. Block Printing is unique because the artist creates the block before printing. It is carved onto the block by hand. Usually vegetable dyes, mineral, and non-toxic dyes are used. The fabric is designed by first dipping the carved block in the desired colour.

In Rajasthan colourful prints of birds, animals, human figures, gods and goddesses are popular. The important centres for this form of hand Printing are:

  • Sanganer,
  • Bangru,
  • Pali
  • Barmer

Sanganer is famous for its Calico printed bed covers, quilts and saris. In Calico Printing, the outlines are first printed, and then the colour is filled in. Bold patterns and colours are popular.In this printing form , the fabric is printed on both the sides and it is an reversible fabric which can be utilised on both the sides, thus the name Do Roohi printing.. Another speciality of this print is that the printing is always done on white backgrounds


Bangru is a place in Rajasthan of Raiger and Chippa communities. The word 'Chippa' means block and these people are involved in the art of making block printing. Bangru is famous for its Syahi-Begar prints and Dabu prints. The former are designs in a combination of black and yellow ochre or cream. The latter are prints in which portions are hidden from the dye by applying a resist paste.

In Sayi Begar Prints: here the fabric is pre-washed and soaked for 24 hours to remove all starch, oil, dust, or any other contaminants.The fabric is dyed in a harda solution, which allows the natural dyes to adhere to the fabric and become colourfast.The typical yellow dye or colour is obtained from the Harda fruit which is again yellow in colour.

Now the yellow dyed fabric is spread and smoothed on long padded printing tables. The printing always moves from left to right.The printer has to be a skilled worker as his job is to immerse the cut block in the coloured tray dye and then apply the block on to the fabric making sure that the stamping on the fabric is accurate. This procedure is repeated over and over again, primarily with the gadh block (background), and then again with the rehk (fine outlines) and daata (inside filling) blocks to fill in different colours.

After all the printing is complete, the fabric is left to dry for 2-3 days before it is washed. The dried fabric is then boiled in a larger copper pot, which consists of a mix of natural ingredients like alum and different kinds of flowers. After boiling the fabric is once again washed to remove any excess dyes or dirt, and again dried in the sun. The block printed fabric is finally ready to be packaged and sold.

In dabu printing, the fabric is pre-washed and soaked for 24 hours to remove all starch, oil, dust, or any other contaminants. Dabu is a mud paste which is used as a resist for printing; it is a mixtre of clay, gavar gum which is applied onto the fabric where ever the colour or dye should not penetrate. Then saw dust is sprinkled over it to avoid fabric from sticking to itself. This is dried in the sun.

The dabu mud makes the printed area resistant to dyes, and therefore will remain unaffected when it is later dye. Once the mud is dry, the fabric is immersed in a dye, usually indigo, and again laid to dry in the sun. The printers may repeat the dabu printing on top of the dyed fabric to create further layers of resist and again dye it in darker shades of the dye.

Finally the fabric is washed to remove all traces of the dabu mud, and revealing the resist area to be the original white (or other colors depending on how many times the fabric was dabu printed). The fabric is again dried in the sun and is ready to be packaged and sold.


Barmer is known for its prints of red chillies with blue-black outlines, surrounded by flower-laden trees. The other famous prints are of horses, camels, peacocks and lions, called Sikar and Shekahawat prints. The designs are more inspired from the Sindh region.




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Mrs. Vanali Ballikar is Lecturer at Department Of Garment Technology, Government Polytechnic, Panaji