Nandna Print – An unsung block art!
From the plateaus of Madhya Pradesh, we bring you yet another colourful art named Nandna block print practised in Tarapur village of Neemuch district. Popular among Bhil tribe, the art includes graceful yet aligned arrangements of motifs on the fabric. Considered very comfortable while performing day-to-day work like farming, Nandna printed fabric was regularly worn by the ladies of Bhil tribe. The long working hours was also the reason for the clothing to be of dark colours like blue and green. Traditionally, there are four motifs namely, Mirch (chilli), Champakali (magnolia bud), Amba (mango) & Jalam buta (creeper web) used in the printing of Nandana.
However, Champakali buti was common amongst the unmarried women of the tribe whereas the skirts or ghagras with Amba print were worn during marriages and pregnancy. Followed by tradition, the brothers also used to gift Nandna printed dresses to their sisters on the occasions like Raksha Bandhan and Diwali.
Why is indigo considered auspicious?
Indigo is the most prominent and highly honoured natural dye among the Nandna craftsmen. The community believes that a cow that drinks the indigo solution becomes stronger and if people eat the food with Indigo-stained hands, they don’t face any problems related to digestion. They also say that Indigo has the influence to turn anything natural. Thus, wearing Indigo-dyed fabric is considered lucky.
The fading of an art!
According to the craftsmen there, the procedure of Nandna printing is very difficult and lengthy. The rigorous process of repeated washing, dyeing, and printing takes around a month to complete one lot of fabric i.e. roughly 800 metres. Many traditional techniques of this handloom have been dropped because of being laborious.
With just a few families involved in the craft, Tarapur village remains the only source of hand block art of Nandna today. There was a time when over 100 families of Tarapur and Ummedpura village of Javad tehsil were practising this craft. Gradually, people left doing it because the work was very tedious, time-consuming and there was no demand for this art in the market.
Today, there are a few boutiques that are working with the families of Nandna craftsmen in order to revive the forgotten craftsmanship and create a market space for Nandna.