Khadi or Chamki work, also known as Tinsel Printing, has been a long tradition in Rajasthan and this manner of decorating textiles was extensively applied to the costume of royalty and the articles they used. Though practised all over Rajasthan, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Barmer, Ajmer and Udaipur are the most popular centres for their elegant khadi prints. It is fascinating to watch the designer making exquisite patterns on wedding odhnis, saris and turbans with magnificent deftness and speed. Previously, artisans of Rajasthan used gold or silver dust for Tinsel printing. This was lately replaced by flakes of crushed mica, or cheaper metal powders, called bodal. Nowadays, granular and fine metallic powders, in different colours on a gold or silver base, are widely used for this kind of printing.
Khadi work is primarily done on garments that are worn for ceremonial purposes. It is also created on garments like the kanchli, ghaghra, angarkha, jama, odhna and turban cloth. A special bridal chunri called phavri or phamri is an essential part of the Rajasthani bride's trousseau and is worn on festivals like Gangaur and Teej. This wedding chunri is usually red in colour and has a special design called khaja, printed in its centre. This ancient tradition of ornamenting cloth in Rajasthan makes use of a special engraved brass block called a sancha, one end of which possesses a design or motif pierced on it. The sancha is coupled with a matching carved wooden datta, which fits its borders, exactly. The two blocks are used together to stamp designs on to the cloth. The sancha comes in a variety of shapes, such as round, oblong, square and rectangular.
The brass block or sancha is filled with rogan, which is a thick viscous paste that the craftsman can either prepare himself or buy the readymade product locally. This mixture is heated briefly before it is poured into the sancha. The wooden data is then inserted into the sancha and with a syringe like action is pressed out through its perforated end. The paste is then stamped on to the evenly spread cloth. The stamping action is rapid but firm to allow the paste to form an adhesive film on the fabric. Before it dries, gold or silver powder is sprinkled on the fabric, which settles on the printed design and is fairly permanent. Excess powder is thus collected and reused.
The procedure of Khadi or Chamki work is repeated till the whole cloth is printed over and the fabric is then dried. The most common motifs, used in khadi printing, are the phul, mogra, chandani, buti, mor, keri and khaja. The ground fabric can be of any colour and does not have to be washed earlier as in other printing techniques. This technique of printing has gained immense popularity with time.
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