Indian perspective: withdrawal of traditional communities and artisans’ need to develop new markets

To see how the craft and its practice evolved from its early roots to Modern day India, one must visit villages and communities of Rajasthan – while the exemplary sense of individuality and identity of craft prevails, there is also remarkable uniformity within each community. The journey also reveals the many changes that have taken place and the adaptations that have been made to the craft to enable it to remain relevant.

A major change which has transpired, is that many of the clothes are often a screen printed or mill-made version of the original hand woven, cotton fabric. They are also manufactured, using chemical dyes, instead of traditional natural dyes. With time, handcrafted products have become more expensive and thus, mill-made fabrics have replaced them in the local markets. Although these mill-made fabrics are cheaper, they are also easier to wash.

In addition to aforementioned change in the production techniques, consumer preferences have also seen a paradigm shift, due to changes in lifestyles, increase in the level of education, industrial revolution and the resultant job opportunities and increase in income, amongst others. A major reason, which contributed to the change in consumer preference, is the migration of communities, which wore traditional designs, to bigger towns or cities. This has lead to a change in their dressing habits and a decline in demand for traditional crafts, as a result of which, traditional markets (haats) began to die. Although, the Government undertook many initiatives to revive these Haats and promote them in big cities, the artisans and their craft found limited uptake by townsfolk.

Thus, to further help the industry, the government began workshops, training programmes and design projects to upgrade the skill levels of the artisans. Presently, many such programmes are being run on a regular basis, which have enabled the artisans to take their crafts to an international level and access the lucrative international markets.

However, despite many changes, the textile printing industry has survived the turn of many centuries and remains one of the most unique Indian crafts.

A new company was formed under the name of Jaipur Integrated Texcraft Park Private Limited (JITPPL) now known by the Brand name of Jaipur Bloc. Most of the members of COTEX became shareholders of JITPPL and land was bought under the Promotional Scheme of SITP of Government of India to create a Block Printers Hub. JITPPL is designed as an eco-friendly textile park, with a wide variety of
infrastructural facilities for effluent & sewage treatment, rain water harvesting, water recycling and conservation, and energy conservation.

The park is located at Bagru, near Jaipur, which is known all over the world for its traditional textiles, various styles of hand block printing and related skills. This is the first park in India to cater to the niche segment of hand block printing; renowned worldwide, and equipped with state of the art technology to conserve and preserve water.

This guide documents the best practices and resource usage approaches by the various manufacturers at the Jaipur Bloc.

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