Nested in the basement of a traditional family home built in stone masonry, the Titanwala Museum showcases the wooden hand block printing tradition of the Namdev followers of the Chippa community of Bagru, a hub of block printing in Rajasthan. Suraj Narain Titanwala, a national awardee, conceived the idea of doing his own museum way back in 1990s when he got the opportunity to visit Hiroko Iwatate’s Folk Textile Museum in Tokyo-Japan to conduct printing demonstrations. His idea was further shaped by opening of the Anokhi textile museum in 2003 at Amber. Thus, from the year 2012, Suraj Narain Titanwala and son Deepak started designing the museum themselves and curating their collection dating back to 300 years. The museum was opened on 25th Feb. 2019 by the Textile Minister Smt. Smriti Irani. Since then the museum has become a centre of attraction for the textile enthusiasts, Chippa printers and fashion students.
Bagru, which is situated 30 kilometers from Jaipur, supplies thousands of meters of block printed fabric to fashion houses in India and abroad every year. The textile which was traditionally worn by the rural communities is now well sought by the international brands who have their productions units and design studios in Bagru and Jaipur. Titanwala Museum captures the development of Bagru printing industry and showcases the craft of block printing of plant motifs on dark Indigo background; which is a peculiarity of Bagru prints. Jamardi is one such complicated printing technique displayed here. The museum houses real samples of printed textile, wooden blocks, utensils and tools used in the craft. Special attractions are the 300 year old ancestral wooden blocks and printed samples since 1974 onwards preserved by Titanwala.
The museum has two galleries that explain the step-by-step process of producing a hand-block printed fabric. The first gallery gives an insight into the art of wooden block-making which is practised by the Kharaodi community—the vegetable dyes used in the process such as pomegranate peels, turmeric, horseshoe rust, tamarind etc, and the different tools, vessels and other objects used for printing. The fabric samples on display here shows the effect of each dye on the fabric.
The second gallery houses the old wooden blocks which are Suraj Titanwala’s family heirloom, passed on from four generations. Blocks of different shapes, sizes, and designs convey the changing needs and traditions over the years—a major attraction is the exclusive Krishna block at this gallery.
The galleries also have old photographs of the family on display. There are some books and journals that talk about the family’s achievements and international recognition. Titanwala produces his own hand-block fabrics in the workshops functioning at the same complex.
The inside and outside of the museum blend well as what you see in the Museum is all being demonstrated outside in Titanwala’s workshop. One could try their hand at the printing table and also buy the printed stuff sold in the museum shop. This connects the museum and makes it a lively space of learning about intricacies of traditional block printing.
The museum also offers hands on workshop and demonstrations of block printing to the visitors.