Daboo: The Art of Mud Printing

Daboo: The Art of Mud Printing

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A mud-resist hand-block fabric printing method, Daboo printing is practiced in Rajasthan and known for its sublime look and quality. The fabric art is considered as one of the most effort consuming arts of India. It involves a lot of manual work, processes, and uses natural dyes as well as the paste of vegetables. Daboo is one such art that is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and uses no synthetic dyes.

Daboo: The Art of Mud Printing

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Daboo Printing consists of several steps starting from sketching an intricate design on the cloth to enveloping it with clay, dyeing, drying and washing. In the case of additional color, the same cloth is dyed again in a lighter shade to cover the area that is patterned.

Origin and History of Daboo

Origin and History of Daboo

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Daboo is an ancient art that is said to have originated in China. Over a passage of time, the art forayed in India, with Rajasthan becoming a leading producer of block printed fabrics. Also known as mud resist printing, Daboo’s origin can be traced back to 675 AD when it marked its presence at a village which is popular today as the Village of Akola in Chittorgarh.

The printing is usually grouped with various other Rajasthani hand block prints such as Bagru, Sanganeri, etc.

The Process of Daboo Printing

Daboo printing process is quite complicated. It involves labor and various stages of printing, washing, and dyeing.

Firstly, the cloth is washed properly in order to get rid of any impurities that could hamper the dyeing stage. Once the cloth dries, intricate designs are hand printed using blocks dipped into fast-drying dyes. The next stage is the significant one in the whole of the process. It is the mud resist stage that gives the fiber its uniqueness. Mud, lime, gum and wheat chaff are fused together to make the mud resist paste or ‘Dhabu.’ This paste is then patted on either the whole of the design or a part of it. Further, sawdust is sprinkled on the paste to dry it. The paste ensures that the cloth doesn’t get damaged from the dye that is used later in the process.

Video Courtesy: INDIA – Dabu Dyeing at Jahota Farm, Jaipur
Published by Richard Goodwin on Youtube

Once the cloth dries out properly, it is dipped into a dye made from other natural dyes and vegetable paste. It is then again washed to remove the paste and excess dye. The unprotected parts, after the washing, soaks the color while Dhabu paste covered parts remain plain.

To give each part of the design a different shade, the cloth may be dyed more than once in a variety of colors.

Know These Interesting Facts about Daboo Printing

  • The word Daboo comes from the Hindi word – Dabana – which means ‘to press.’
  • The mud resist recipe is still a guarded secret of families in Akola Village who are practicing it.
  • When cheap machine printed alternative forayed in India just before independence, Daboo printing found it hard to survived. However, the craft was again revived in ethnic textiles in the 21st century.