Walking around the block printing areas of Jaipur, one can hear the rhythm of the beautifully crafted blocks as they connect with the fabric stretched on the table with a firm ‘thump.' The precise hand action leaves on the cloth the evocative imagery of a lovely red ‘nargis' or a blue chrysanthemum, perhaps a curving leaf in a tracery of tendrils, while the artisan continues with his task of imprinting other blocks, often synchronising 30 different blocks to complete one design. Aligning each block, the artisan often stamps the cloth a thousand times to complete three metres in, say three – four colours. The end result is the fabled block prints of Sanganer and Jaipur, harmonised fields of ‘butties' and ‘amris' of exotic flowers such as rose and chrysanthemum, ‘nargis' and iris with delicate borders which seem to bring back to life the garments worn in Mughal and Pahari miniatures. ‘Kilol' is one such player whose team of block printing artisans have put block printed fabrics on the national and international map. The artisan creates fabric embellishment of rare delicacy and fabric which celebrates Nature in the form of flowers, ‘butties' inspired by ‘dhatura' and ‘chameli', Kalamkari flowers, arabesques, zig zags and even abstract designs.

The colour palette which includes the use of vegetable dyes as in the Dabu resist technique also has colours from softest pastels to silhouetted flower motifs in jewel colours. Says designer Mamta Mansingka: “Today the ‘buttie' is Sanganer's badge of identity, handed down generations by block makers and printers who are an itinerant lot. The block printing tradition which is the essence of ‘Kilol' is like the alphabet. How you use it, reflects your originality. I was the first in the field to use block printing on Maheshwaris, today it is in the main stream. We also use Kotas, fine mulmuls, cambric, voile, tussar and other handloom materials for saris, yardage, dupattas and stoles.”

An exquisite range of Kilol's classical and contemporary range of saris, salwar suits, tops, dupattas, kurtis and bed linen is on display at ‘The Magic of Kilol' exhibition from Friday to May 14. The venue is Kilol, High Tower, 1st Floor, 40 A, Nungambakkam High Road, (Opp. Hotel Ganpat).

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