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Ethnography Hardik Shiroya 201314005

Palak Sanghani 201314001





Ethnographic Research on the block makers of Pethapur

An Ethnographic perspective in understanding the traditional and modernization of the
traditional forms of block making, the strategies and experiences undertaken by the
craftsmen with the changes in the market for their products. We wish to see historical, social
and cultural influences on the art of block making and understand the traditional and new
markets, products and tools and unravel a wealth of knowledge.
Block making is a tradition that has enriched the day to day lives of the people of Pethapur
and worked as a source of livelihood for generations of craftsmen. It is interesting to note
that the technique of block making is being replaced by screen printing, the wooden blocks
are also being replaced by the iron blocks and most of the block makers have chosen
alternative livelihoods which provide better compensation but still there seems to be a
demand for the block printing. The number of artisans have dwindled but block printing
died. We want to explore how are these modern techniques of printing affecting the
traditional art of block making. Is the depletion of the art leading to the poor economic

Block printing has been around since the 5th century and has a very long history. The images
printed are much bolder than the other types of designs, there is less design and more
texture. The craftsman had a vast collection of designs which he had carved over the years.
There was a distinct variety in all his designs. He had abstract, geometric, floral, and other
designs. The designs of Pethapur have mostly been inspired by the geometrical patterns and
there are floral elements also. The artist developed different kinds of blocks deriving
inspiration from several resources. Animals like parrots and elephants are also seen as motifs.
They are integrated within the geometric shapes. We want to address the question of how
the designs have been changing over the time, how the quality of wood has changed and
how that affects the economic conditions of the block makers. Like each center, Pethapur
also seems to have a distinct style of its own but over the time how has it accumulated the
styles of other block making centers?
Ethnography Hardik Shiroya 201314005
Palak Sanghani 201314001

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A lot of hard work is involved to get a small amount of detail but are the block makers paid
enough? Do they get enough credit for the hard work they put in for carving out every single
piece of block? When we wear a piece of cloth which has been printed using the block
printing technique we never think of the time and effort spent in getting the finished good
ready. The producer have a face but now when we have begun to know the block
maker, we value the cloth a little more and a one to one relationship is developed.

The simplicity takes a lot of steps to be achieved. It is truly handmade and can be easily
replicated. The entire process is slow yet highly artistic. They know how much efforts are put
in each block, the amount of patience involved to get the flawless finished product so are
they oriented towards money making or their reputation and the dedication towards their
art? The artistic design drew us towards the art. The fact that each wood block is carved
completely by hand from a flat piece of wood is astounding.

The artisans themselves make the basic carving tools since years and the tradition still
continues. How have the tools been modified to increase rate of production to meet the
aims of better production. Has the technique of block making evolved over the time? We
will work to find a pattern among the group of block makers which will help to define their
culture. Their behavior, ideas and beliefs will help us define a pattern.

The mentoring process is where the knowledge is passed on from one generation to the
other, it is the key to the progress of handicrafts which we rarely see such importance being
given to the quality and finish. Do the artisans wish to propagate their art to the following
generations?

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