Perfection is an overrated concept. In this age where machines are employed for various purposes even more than men, it’s surprising to note the existence of art made by hand. Although there are many falling under this category, I would like to draw your attention to hand-printed fabrics, in particular.

Hand printing in fabrics most likely originated in China about 4,500 years ago. But it found the highest visual expression nowhere but in the Indian subcontinent. The great Indian heritage speaks volumes of varied artistic expressions with their complex representations. One can easily interpret hand printing also like an art which was conceived, shaped, researched, adapted, rethought and remoulded in the able hands of our creative forefathers. They didn’t copy anything foreign to it. They turned it into a distinct and indigenous art form. Every region in India producing hand-printed fabrics has a signature of their own with which they are distinguished from the rest.

Although this process sounds easy, there is a lot of work that goes into it, viz., washing and drying the fabric to remove the starchiness of the fibres, carving the blocks (the complexity of which comes through experience), block-printing, final washing and drying followed by a final check for quality issues, if any.

Unlike the machine-made clone-like structures which lack life or identity of its own, imperfection is the beauty of hand-printed textiles. It is imperfection that gifts a unique and nuanced charm to these art pieces. It reflects the imperfection of its creators which in turn, adds beauty to it.

One thing that we as consumers tend to forget is the life behind the art, those blurry vague human faces hiding behind veils who sacrifice their entire lives for the preservation and propagation of their art. Every fabric has a story to tell and an emotion to observe. So, let us have ears to listen and eyes to witness that which is left unheard and unseen! Imperfection is the new idea of beauty which can be interpreted in several different ways and let us all be the ambassadors for the same!


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