Have you seen an achara? Probably so, if you have ever visited a block printing studio. It is that thick cotton fabric that underpins the printing table, laying beneath the piece that is being stamped. An achara provides extra padding to maintain uniformity during the printing process while also absorbing the residual dye that passes through the cloth.
When the chhipa printer removes the stamped cloth from the table, he reveals an achara now lightly covered with patterns — subtle variations of the various blocks and dyes recently used.
With repetitive designs printed over time, acharas gradually accumulate a variety of vague impressions that ultimately result in an abstraction of layered pattern. Motifs dance and overlap across the empty backdrop. This functional length of unbleached cloth is transformed into a work of art created by chance.
These lively patterns shown here are from the acharas in the AMHP’s Demonstration Area. For more information about the technique of making a printing table, read an earlier blog, The Humble Printing Table.
Text: Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing
Photos: Anokhi Archives