Dabu Block Printing

Dabu print - Mud resist hand fabric printing

What is Dabu block printing?

Dabu block printing is an ancient textile printing technique primarily practiced in Jaipur, Rajasthan of India. It involves a labour intensive process with many stages of manual labour to achieve the unique textile designs and fine quality fabric. Colouricious holidays have been to explore this amazing process in practice offering block printing tours so you can create your own wonderful fabric designs and help support the local Dabu printers.

Dabu block printing process

Dabu Paste

Dabu-block-printing-create-your-own-fabricThe key stage of dabu printing is the preparation of a mud resist clay paste known as ‘Dabu’. This is made from calcium hydroxide (black clay from ponds) which acts as the resist, naturally pounded wheat, gum and lime water help with adhesion and preventing the paste from cracking. This dabu paste prevents the penetration of dye creating beautiful textile effects. The pastes and dyes contain natural ingredients making it environmentally non-toxic. The art of making dabu paste varies across the areas and is kept secret. The recipe is taught only to daughters-in-law with many families having thier own recipe to make the paste.

Dabu block printing

Dabu-block-printing-textiles-dabu-fabricLocally sourced hand carved wooden printing blocks are dipped into the paste and designs are hand printed sequentially onto the fabric. These sheets of fabric have already been washed and beaten several times to remove any impurities, dipped into a tanning agent and dried in sunlight which takes several days.


Dabu-block-printing-resist-printing-on-fabricSaw dust in then sprinkled over the dabu printed fabric. Saw dust has two major functions at this stage-first to absorb water from the dabu paste and give additional layers of resist. The saw dust also acts as a binder which prevents colour penetration while dyeing. The area where clay and sawdust mixture is present does not catch the dye and remains colourless. Therefore unprotected parts of the fabric catch the colour.

Dabu fabric designs


The fabric is then left in the sun to dry and then dyed in cold dye solution. Colouruiocs holdiays focused on Indigo dyeing. This would produce white print effect against blue background. The fabric may be dyed more than once in different colours to give each part of the design a different hue. The process may be repeated for double dabu, triple dabu and so on depending on the design until the desired design is achieved but the basic principles remain the same.

Colouricious Holidays – Dabu block printing technique

Dabu-block-printing-mud-resist-printing-fabric-printingColouricious Holidays offer a range of textile craft holiday delving into the many block printing techniques. If you have been intrigued to create your own fabric then head over to www.colouriciousholdiays.com to see if you would like to experience this traditional process for yourself.