“I am an artist by blood and profession both,” says Abdul Majid, who learned block printing and textile design from his father, Abdul Rashid, their family having practiced the arts for over 300 years. It is assumed the art of printing designs on fabric originated in China over 4,500 years ago but it is in India where the craft of block printing was elevated into art. The advent of mass-production has taken a toll on this traditional art, but artists like Abdul and his father have revived the traditional methods and inspired others in their community to do so as well. Abdul is well-known for his striking block designs, sophisticated color palettes, and modern clothing silhouettes.
Block print designs are drawn on butter paper and then carved into blocks of wood, usually teak. Once the carving is complete the block stamp is dipped into dye, and stamped onto fabric. Block printing is done completely by hand, and with a careful eye. Each process is done by a different group of people. Fabrics are then turned into clothing and home goods, with Abdul designing everything from women’s dresses and men’s jackets to bed sheets and tablecloths.
Abdul founded a printing factory in Jaipur in 1997 and this has allowed him to train a new generation in the art of block printing. His designs are sold through two stores he has opened in Jaipur and New Delhi, called “Rashid”, after his father. Abdul’s talents have led to designs for museums and hotels and his work has been showcased in various national and international exhibitions. He has been awarded the State Award in Hand Block Printing by the Government of Rajasthan, the National Award in Hand Block Printing by the Indian Ministry of Textiles.