An exquisite art of Mud resist printing


An exquisite, cumbersome, traditional and much sought after form of art - Dabu is the mud-resist hand-block fabric printing method. Practiced primarily in Rajasthan, but known to have its roots from the Indus Valley civilization era, this form of art involves tremendous amount of manual work,  painstakingly long processes, and  above all uses natural dyes  and paste of vegetables which makes the coloring process tough but unique.  Daboo art is also unique and chosen by elite, cause it represents unique, one of a kind and love for nature-  non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and zero usage of synthetic dyes.

In the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan , this hand craft is practiced by the traditional Chippa Khatri muslim community. practicing and protecting this unique art form for the past 5 generations. Only a few families continue to devote themselves to this laborious yet beautiful process.

The Dabu printing goes through multiple stages and each stage is cumbersome and laborious. For anyone in love with textile or inquisitiveness about patterns and this unique art, Dabu is a visual delight.

Stages of Dabu printing

Pre processing of the Fabric: The fabric is dipped into water containing a mixture of cow dung for 24 hours. this removes impurities making the fabric more permeable for future. The fabric upon drying is then treated with Harad powder. Harad is a fruit of a tree and this particular process makes the fabric react with metal salts.

Preparation of the Resist paste : The Dabu mud is made of clay, lime and gum. Dabu acts as a mechanical resist and prevents the penetration of the dye during dyeing process. The main purpose of the mud is to resist the printing area. The consistency of the paste is special and the formulation is a secret retained with some families only.

Preparation of Dye baths : Since Dabu printing uses all natural ingredients, it is very interesting to see the making of the dye baths. The color black is prepared by fermenting iron , horse shoe nails and jaggery. For Red the tamarind seed's powder is used and for yellow some flowers like Kesula and turmeric are used.


Resist printing: Blocks for Dabu are distinctly different from other types of printing with deeper grooves for mud and wider lines. The printer dips the block in the mud and stamps on the fabric. The patterns laid out by the block where the mud meets the fabric will not get colored and retain the natural white. 

Drying and washing :After the dyeing process, the printers rinse off mud revealing the white color where the mud was protecting the dye. The drying, rinsing and washing process takes a while and the fabric is left to dry before gettng folded, pressed and package. The final product is a delight and much sought after in local and international markets

Want to read about my experience and photographing the daboo printing process read here