Derived from 'Dabanna' meaning 'to press', Dabu is a dust-resistant block printing craft practiced in the charming town of Akola in Rajasthan. Local women of the Jat, Gujar, and Gadaria tribes adorn printed fabrics in this way.

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Process of Akola craft

The word dabu comes from "dabaana" meaning "to press" and is a handicraft with beautiful fabric motifs created for local women. The patterns are traditional and are passed down from generation to generation intact. Motifs are taken from nature and surrounding objects and then transferred to wooden blocks by skilled sculptors and blockmakers.

Dabu of Akola

The ancient craft of hand-cut woodblock prints dates back to the Indus Valley civilization. Some historians claim its roots date back to China in the 3rd century BC. From there, Gujarat and Rajasthan are believed to have reached India in the 18th century, when they became India's largest producers of printed fabrics. The Hindu caste of cotton printers and dyers known as Chippas were a prominent printing community in Rajasthan. The word comes from "chapna," meaning "to print," because the cheongsam printed color patterns on cotton fabric with wooden stamps. They worked in harmony with the other related communities of Nilgar (indigo dyer), Rangrez (dyeer) and Dhobi (laundry woman).