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What does woodblock printing mean?

Woodblock printing is a technique of printing text, images or patterns on paper or fabric. It is one of the oldest techniques known and practised to date. It was originated in China. Later the Japanese adopted the technique and within a short period, it spread and flourished into a fine way of artistic expression.

The Technique of Woodblock Printing:

Woodblocks were prepared as a relief matrix. It means that the areas to show white are cut away with a chisel or knife, leaving the characters or image to show in black at the original surface level. The block is inked properly and then pressed hard against the fabric or paper to achieve the impression of that engraved pattern. These wood blocks are generally made up of sycamore, plane and pearwood. These may vary in size but ya, all of these are 2-3 inches thick. The art of carving on the wood is technically known as xylography.

At first, woodblock print was mainly used for printing calendars, auspicious charms and books on agriculture and medicine. Later with advancement and invention, different motives started getting engraved on the wood. These motifs when stamped on fabric resulted in beautiful patterns. For multiple colours, a separate block is used every time. Woodblock printing or handblock printing is now used in both fashion and interior industries.

Everything now is mass printed and produced in modern and atomized ways still, the importance of this century-old and intensive tradition is alive. There are many villages in India where the craftsmen are practising and passing down this skill through generations. The prints from woodblock have been cherished for a long time; it has been drawing consumers from across the globe.

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