A Bold History
Bela prints are bold and graphic. They grab your attention with a vibrant palette of printed color on a plain white background. Diverse hues are achieved using natural and vegetable dyes. Bagru, Rajasthan, is most famous for producing this type of mordant printed textile. Yet, Kachchh has been a producer district of Bela-style cloth for as long as people can remember. Long ago, East Kachchh produced many mordant resist fabrics commonly referred to as Patthar, which were used in dowry gifts.
Red and black colours are iconic of Bela printing, colors which were used the most for their color fastness. Bagru often features large scale and graphic prints, characterized by strong a strong mordant-printing technique wherein the printer applies vegetable dye directly to a piece of cloth with a hand wood block.
A One of a Kind Printer
Long ago there were many Bela-style printers, but today only one remains. His name is Mansukhbhai Khatri, a Hindu printer based in Rapar Taluka. His traditional designs use blocks that belonged to his grandfather, infusing each cloth he makes with a rustic, antique sensibility that echoes of times passed. Through design interventions with Mansukhbhai, and product development, Khamir is working to reinvigorate Bela-styleprinting to create innovatively designed printed bags and bolts of fabric in deep reds and rich blacks.