Dabu—Mud Resist—Printing From Rajasthan

Posted on March 18, 2013 by Candace Whalen | 1 Comment


Artisans in the Indian state of Rajasthan are known for their beautiful hand block printed fabrics.  But the printing process isn't the same for all of these designs. 

In most cases, motifs are printed onto the fabrics using blocks which have been dipped in the colorful dyes.  The result is often a darker design on a lighter background.



Another method, dabu printing, uses a mud resist.  The dabu process usually produces a darker fabric.



We recently visited some of the dabu artisans who supply our products and took a few photos of their work in progress.

A Dabu Printing Village In Rajasthan


The dabu resist starts out as mud and is mixed with other ingredients to produce the resist paste.

The Mud


Mixing The Resist Paste


Using wooden blocks, the mud mixture is printed onto white or lightly colored fabric.  This design will be the lightest motif on the finished piece.

Printing Mud Resist Onto The Fabric


          Dabu Resist Printed On Fabric


Dabu Resist Is Dried Before The Fabric Is Dyed


Dying the fabric will color the background but not the areas covered by the resist.

Cloth Being Dyed With Indigo


Newly Dyed Fabric Is Spread On The Ground To Dry


Indigo-Dyed Fabric Drying

After drying, the resist-then-dye process can be repeated, giving a layered effect to the design.  In the following photo, the first resist's design was the white flowers.  Then the fabric was dyed blue.  The second resist—the stripes and zig-zag lines—was applied, and the fabric was again placed into the blue dye to achieve an even darker color for the background.


After the final dying, the resist is washed away.  Indigo fabrics are frequently dyed using the dabu process.

A Finished Piece Dyed With Natural Indigo

Pomegranate skins produce a yellow dye.  This is often used as the lightest color in a dabu fabric.

A Dye Vat With Pomegranate Skins For Yellow Color


          Fabric Dyed Light Yellow Prior To Application Of The Resist


Posted in fabric, Rajasthan

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1 Response


July 07, 2013

After seeing this, I’m left with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the work that goes into the making of these beautiful designs. One is left with the feeling of having made a personal connection.

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