Learn about the rich Punjabi culture and traditions. Also read about Punjabi history.
CLOTHINGIn Punjab, there was a particular community of textile workers called "Chhimba". They used to print khaddar cloth with hand blocks. In most cases, the white cloth was supplied by the customer. It was first dyed and then printed by the Chhimbas. The printed designs were mainly floral and geometrical; sometimes bird and animal motifs were also used.
|The dyes were obtained from vegetables, plants and stones; -the colours were made fast by adding some chemicals and herbs and boiling for several hours. The method of obtaining colours for thedyes etc. was a jealously guarded secret of the Chhimba community and not let out easily.|
|The hand-printing on cloth with the wooden blocks is an industry. This process is known as Calico printing. First of all, the outli printed; thereafter wooden blocks for filling in different colors are separately used. Normally, three to tour colours are the most in hand-block printing. There was no special center for hand-printing in Punjab of the same repute as Jaipur, area but in the towns, mill cloth was used. The printing process was very simple. The cloth was spread on a flat wooden table. Wooden blocks of different motifs were lightly dipped in desired colours and the required designs printed. In order to obtain a fast impression, the printer had to stamp blocks several times with the hand.|
|Hand printing is still being done in some areas of Punjab but traditional designs are no longer in vogue. The traditional dyes and colours have been relinquished in favour of aniline dyes which are cheaper and do not involve so much time and labour.|
|The term palampore originally derived from Hindustani word "palang-posh" meaning bed cover is now generally applied indiscriminately to all varieties of Indian prints or hand printed cottons, including canopies over the images of Hindu gods, prayer cloths or mats, handkerchiefs and cloth for daily wear.-Indian cotton manufactures and printed cotton have been well known since time immemorial, though the original home of printing industry seems to have been Persia.|
|The traditional patterns are based on Amb-booti (mango-leaf) with outlines in dark indigo (that is derived from Bilawa, commonly used by the washermen to mark the clothes) or dark maroon on a deep yellow background . An all-over booti or flowing creeper (bel) pattern is printed in required colours with dark outlines. Colours are generally used from the roots as in ancient days. In Punjab, the colours used in this process are generally light or in pastel shades. Dark colours which are very common in Rajasthan are not used. Traditional patterns have undergone considerable change with the passage of time. This change is noticeable in rural areas also. Luckily I spent a lot of time in early 50's to collect traditional designs from printers' albums as well as wooden blocks.|
|The traditional motifs are not very similar to those of neighbouring provinces. Fortunately the lock motifs have an individuality of their own. Particularly, Mor (peacock) and Amb (mango) motifs have their own charm; the Jal (net or big bush) motif was very popular with the women from all communities.|
|A square piece of cloth (Rumal) was very popular among the Muslims. Rumal purposely made for the Sikhs was used for covering their holy book 'Granth-Sehib'. This was generally printed with hand blocks|
Sources: Cultural Heritage of Punjab, K C Aryan