Sunday, 24 February 2019

A Trip to The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, Jaipur



On the outskirts of Jaipur, in the shadow of the magnificent Amber Fort, you'll find a beautifully restored haveli which is home to the Anokhi Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of block printing. 


I'm sure you already know about my love for block printing - so keen was I to visit the Anokhi Museum that within minutes of checking into Hotel Sweet Dreams, we'd dumped our bags, flagged down a passing tuk tuk and headed to textile heaven.


If the haveli wasn't beautiful enough, just look at the exhibits! Most of these clothes are contemporary Anokhi pieces but the blouses and skirts in the centre of the collage below are tribal pieces dating back to the 19th Century.


Click on the collages to enlarge the photos.


These are details from the current exhibition of jajams, large patterned floor spreads coloured in traditional shades of red and black, once commonly found in Rajasthan.






Mujeeb Khan, who has carved the wooden printing block by hand for over forty years demonstrates just how intricate his work is. His tools belonged to his father, carving is a family tradition.


Although I'm aware of the intricacies of block printing I'd never given much though to how the blocks are made, what an eye opener! I was thrilled when Mujeeb presented me with one of his flower posies.




The only other visitors to the museum that afternoon were a French couple, we took it in turns to have a bash at block printing and, when I say bash I mean it, those printing blocks are heavy on the hands.



That's my excited face! I even happier when I was given the handkerchief to take home!


Elsewhere Salim was busy printing some curtains for Anokhi's homeware department and let us have a go. 






Back in the days of the Overland Trail, the hippies were buying block printed bedspreads in Indian bazaars and getting the local tailors to sew them into western-style dresses. Anokhi tapped into this trend and manufactured their own range of hippie clothes, examples of which are on display.



Never in my life have I coveted dresses more. These beauties are on loan from the original owner, a British lady, who bought them in the early 1970s.



I was tempted to break the glass and do a runner with the exhibits!


Although those dresses couldn't be mine (sob!)  I was determined to treat myself to something from Anokhi while we were in Jaipur. We've visited their shops elsewhere in India but the Jaipur branch is the brand headquarters and we'd been told that their cafe was well worth a visit, so a couple of days later off we went. I can vouch for the cafe, their organic feta tapenade salads were incredible (for full menu see HERE).



Source

Anokhi, like Cottage Cottage and FabIndia, sell clothes which are ethically sourced, fairly traded and beautifully made. No trend-led pieces here, just clothes you'll want to wear forever.



I didn't leave empty-handed, it would be virtually impossible not to. I bought a maxi dress (which you'll see in another post) and this block printed, quilted riding coat which I loved at first sight but it wasn't a holiday romance, I've worn it almost constantly since I got home, it goes with everything I own! 

For all our photos of the Anokhi Museum click HERE

Linking to Patti & the Gang for Visible Monday.

60 comments:

  1. WOW!!!!
    I gotta go there because i love blockprint!!!
    That riding coat is divine & I can't wait to see your maxi.
    xox

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    1. You need to go, honest! It's such a fab place. I wanna go back! xxx

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  2. Looks amazing! Love that blue dress in the exhibit!

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    1. That dress brought tears to my eyes, I loved it so much! Lovely to hear from you, Liz! xxx

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  3. Your coat is magnificent. Perhaps you should start importing block printed material on your trips and sew them into crop tops etc :) You are so talented that way

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    1. I had thought about it but these days block prints are having a massive revival in India and aren't cheap - I'd be scared putting the scissors to that fab fabric! xxx

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  4. Oh WOW that coat is fabulous! How fascinating your posts are. I feel very lucky to read them thank you so much for your generosity in taking the time to post. Your writing is fab ­čśś

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    1. Oh Shelagh, you are kind! I get so much pleasure from writing about my travels, it extends my adventures! xxx

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  5. You're gorgeous in those pieces---heaven on earth!!!!

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  6. You must have had a hard time tearing yourself away from the Anokhi Museum ... How exciting that you got to try your hand at block printing and then being given the handkerchief to take home. Something to treasure forever! I'm in awe of the incredible workmanship involved in making the blocks. Your quilted riding coat is gorgeous, and I can't wait to see the maxi! xxx

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    1. I did! I wanted to go back again.
      When I read about the Anokhi Museum it was the deciding factor on where we were going to visit in India, I loved it even though I left a bit brokenhearted by those dresses not being mine!!
      I'm so happy with my riding coat, I'm almost disappointed it's warm outside, I want to wear it forever! xxx

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  7. Oh my goodness-such amazing pieces. I'd have covered the display cases with drool ;)
    That coat is perfection.

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    1. Those dresses brought tears to my eyes, how generous of that woman to loan them out, I don't think I'd ever let them out of my sight if they were mine! xxx

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  8. Block printing is so fascinating and I can imagine how fun it would have been in that museuem and having a go at it yourself. Looking forward to seeing your new block printed dress. X

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    1. Thanks, Jess! It was a brilliant afternoon, if it's possible to love block printing any more than I did already than I do now! xxx

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  9. Now that is a place I would love to visit. Oh those clothes are just to die for.
    Hugs-x-

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    1. Isn't it a wonderful place? Those clothes were something else! xxx

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  10. I love those fabrics. How I wish I had kept the few block print pieces I bought in the 70s.

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    1. I wish my Mum's and Grandma's pieces had survived, too! xxx

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  11. fabric heaven indeed!!!
    if i had found this when i was in jaipur i would still work there! even just for food & and a bed.
    sigh.
    your coat is a total beauty and will serve you for the rest of your life.
    xxxxx

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    1. Ha! I knew you'd love the Anokhi Museum, what with the architecture, the displays and workshops (all free!) I didn't want to leave either! xx

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  12. I loved the video you took of the craftsman at work. Just incredible.

    Suzanne

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    1. Isn't it amazing? I could watch the process again and again. xxx

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  13. I have a whole new appreciation for block printing. This is not easy. First they have to make all the blocks individually and by hand and then the printing by hand...that's a lot of hand work but it sure is worth it because it looks beautiful and unique. So cool you got to make your own handkerchief. Seeing and visiting a museum dedicated to block printing must have been a great experience. Certainly something one must do if given the chance. The museum looks great, it is lovely to learn more about the block print and the exhibits look spectacular as well. It must have been wonderful seeing these beautiful dresses in person.

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    1. Once you've witnessed the printing process, you can't help but fall in love with block printing. I love the tiny imperfections you get, too - they just add to the beauty. xxx

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  14. Vix, I can't tell you enough how much I've enjoyed the whole Indian travelogue series. If I can't go places myself these days, the next best thing is to go vicariously through you. Thanks for these posts in particular and for being you in general.

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    1. A.Marie, thank you so much, your comment made my day. Of all the posts I write, I get the most pleasure from writing about my travels in India. xxx

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  15. Indian block printed cotton fabric is my absolute favourite, the work so well in a very hot climate like ours. Thank you for this post. I now have a new place on my 'next visit' list.

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    1. Hello Lynette! You're so right, those prints and natural colours work so well with the heat and bright sunshine. I can't recommend Jaipur highly enough, January was the perfect time to visit, too - you can explore without overheating! xxx

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  16. Block printing is so cool, and wowsers, those dresses are amazing. I adore your riding coat and love that you can't stop wearing it - it's FAB.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sheila! I've been scouring the internet for one of those dresses on display. A midi version of the blue maxi sold for £450!!! xxx

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  17. That coat is fabulous! I studied print-making in high school and we did wood block printing but only on paper. I wish I'd have thought to use fabric! What an interesting adventure. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much! I've got a few wood blocks including a huge one Shelley who blogs at Forest City Fashionista sent me, one of these days I'll print my own fabric! xxx

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  18. Wow i would love to visit the museum and do block printing, but what laborious work, i value the few anokhi for East pieces i own even more now. Your jacket is a real investment buy. Your posts are so interesting and informative, thanks for putting so much info in.

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    1. You can see why those Anokhi pieces are so expensive, can't you?
      After seeing the process involved in both the wood block carving and the printing itself I didn't need to think twice when I saw that jacket.
      I'm so happy that you're enjoying the travelogue. xxx

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  19. I have India envy reading this post...... the clothes are so beautiful, treasures. How fantastic to have gone to this place.

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    1. It really was an afternoon well spent. Jaipur has so much to recommend it. xxx

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  20. Ohhh vix those patterns are stunning and the blocks themselves are beautiful works of art , They would look great displayed by themselves xx

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    1. Aren't the patterns beautiful? I love the earthy shades they use, too - no chemicals, just plants! xxx

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  21. The riding jacket is simply divine . The art of block printing must have been so interesting to both see and try for yourself. The building is quite something. Now why didn't I think to bring home some of those fabrics back then.

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    1. If that museum had been empty, I think I'd still have gone back to Sweet Dreams happy, that haveli was my dream house! xxx

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  22. WOWW, thanks for sharing so much info about these fabulous indian labels, and I'm glad that they're local and ethically made. As a huge fan of block printing, I totally understand that you wanted to do a runner with some of the exhibition pieces, they look absolutely covetable!
    Love your new coat, you look fabulous in it!. And obviously it goes with everything in your wardrobe, this kind of stunning pieces even increase their fabulousness working together!
    besos

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    1. I'm so happy that the Indians are starting to embrace their traditional fabrics and turning their backs on fast fashion and the cheap imported polyester so many women were wearing a few years ago. Maybe one day us Europeans will follow suit before it's too late!
      I didn't need that coat but I knew it would torment me forever if I left without it! xxx

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  23. The blockprint designs are out of this world beautiful. I can see every one of those gorgeous dresses on you. This must have been an excellent adventure for you and Jon, with your love of all things Indian, colorful, vintage, and unique. xox

    Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. I nearly cried when I saw those 1970s dresses, I'd never seen anything so beautiful. xxx

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  24. It looks like you had great fun block printing.
    The Anokhi clothes are beautiful, the 19th century tribal ones look contemporary too!
    I love your long jacket, it's really gorgeous. xxx

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    1. I had the time of my life! I'd happily have stayed there the entire week just to drool over those clothes! xxx

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  25. Oh my, what an amazing experience. This was like your perfect place to visit. Blockprints are just beautiful, aren't they! I loved seeing the whittling of the block to create those flowers and seeing you get the opportunity to try printing and to get to keep the handkerchief too! I felt like that when I got to try Batik with a famous Javanese Batik artist in Yogyakarta.
    Can't wait to see your dress!!x

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    1. It was such an interesting afternoon, I was thrilled when I was given both the woodblock and the hankie - as if the museum itself wasn't exciting enough!
      I loved my batik making class, what a wonderful thing to have done it in Bali! xxx

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  26. That looks brilliant. India's love of textiles and awareness of good fabrics makes me feel slightly ashamed at our attitudes towards cloth over here. Perhaps if more people here loved good cloth, we'd have less wasteful and exploitative fast fashion.

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    1. There's been a real turn around in recent years with India's middle classes, they're really starting to embrace Indian textiles. Apparently Modi said that "by wearing their clothes, you're once again allowing yourselves to become enslaved by the West" . xxx

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  27. When I saw your pictures on Facebook I wondered how you resisted doing a smash and grab of those 70's dresses they are SO you!

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  28. After acquiring three printing blocks I was really curious as to how they were made, so it is so cool to see the tools they use to carve a pattern. I can imagine how excited you were to see all the beautiful items of block-printed clothing. I had no appreciation for the time and skill that went into their making until I read your India trip stories.

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    1. I'd never thought about how the block were made, the work behind them was even more intricate than the actual printing process. xxx

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  29. I'm with you on those dresses! What a fabulous place to visit. To see it in action and then visit the shop must've been a real treat. The riding jacket is superb!
    xx

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    1. Such a shame there isn't an Anokhi shop in the UK although it's probably better for my bank account that there isn't! xxx

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Lots of love, Vix