Home to a variety of intricate handicrafts, Rajasthan is famous for its vibrant culture and the explosions of colour on its streets. Tourists love to buy the trinkets and miniature paintings that are sold by artisans, but tucked away in the shadow of the Amber Fort, eight miles outside Jaipur is a haveli, locally known as the Chanwar Palkiwalon Ki Haveli. This restored pink sandstone building is the ‘Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing’ which houses contemporary fabric with block printed designs created by artisans with the objective of preserving the tradition of block-printing.
The museum was started by Anokhi, a clothing line that sells block printed garments across stores in the country. It was founded by Faith Singh, a British woman who moved to Jaipur after having married an Indian in 1970. Her daughter-in-law, Rachel Bracken-Singh along with her husband Pritam Singh, worked on the restoration of the mansion, which was built during the 17th century and belonged to the royal palanquin-bearers. The museum was even awarded the UNESCO award for ‘Cultural Heritage Conservation’ in 2000.
“After a number of years of regularly showing visitors around the Anokhi workplace we realised that people visiting Jaipur clearly wanted to learn more about block printing – its history, some technical details and the chance to look at both traditional and contemporary examples – and there wasn’t such a place to facilitate that,” explained Director Rachel Bracken-Singh, adding, “While Anokhi’s business and museum are intrinsically linked, the content of the museum is not about Anokhi, it is about block printing as a craft and its unique richness and diversity.”
Large boards placed in the courtyard of the museum explain the process of block printing and the making of the organic dyes used for the same. Inside the museum, in galleries spanning across two floors, a range of apparel is on permanent display, along with the blocks used. Ethnic designs and fusion clothes are also on display. On the rooftop, interested visitors can watch the master craftsmen demonstrate their work.
The museum also supports research programs targeted at the study of block printing from select regions of India. Workshops are also offered regularly to a large range of people—college students, school students and various other individuals from both India and abroad. Most of these involve block printing, but block carving workshops are also held.
The museum having been closed during the summer, is set to reopen on June 15, 2017. The museum is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. It remains closed on Mondays, national holidays and local holidays.
For further details, visit the museum’s site.
Feature Image Credits: TourMyIndia