Syahi-Begar is a mordant(color binder) printing technique practiced in twin villages of Ummedpura & Tarapur. This is a very traditional and old technique of hand block printing. In this technique wooden blocks are used to print mordants which helps fabric to absorb the dyes where mordant was printed with the block design to get the desired pattern.
In this technique fabric is washed with solution of castor oil and washing soda, works as a natural soap. After washing is done to extract impurities from it is then dyed with myrabalan (Harad fruit) dye. After dyeing it is dried under sun then fabric is ready for printing. Now fabrics first printed with syahi begar (alum to get red and iron rust to get black color). After printing with two mordant fabric is put in a cool and dry place for 3-4 days so that it is well absorbed by the fabric. Now fabric is washed in a flowing or running water to wash extra mordant. After washing it is gone through “Bhatti” (dyeing) process, in which printed fabric is dyed with dhawda flower and alizarin. In place of alum print red color occurs and iron rust printed black color becomes fixed. Few decades ago roots of al tree (morinda tinctoria) or madder roots were used to get red color. Today it is replaced with synthetic alizarin. In this collection we have revived the use of natural dyes using manjishtha roots (Indian madder) for red/maroon colour. Myrobalan and iron rust creates natural balck colour.
“Chippa” community is practicing the craft of hand block printing in Tarapur since 400 years, who claims to belong to the lineage of Sant Namdev, a famous saint of “Bhakti Tradition” in India. 10-15 years back some 100 families of “Chippa community” were involved in this craft restricted to the 3-4 families today. It’s all due to tough competition from the chemical screen printing and imitating of designs by digital printers selling it at cheaper prices than hand block printing. But they are still following the traditional methods in preparing the fabrics using semi-natural and natural dyes.