Khari printing is a traditional printing technique using gold, silver, copper and chalk. Originating in Rajasthan state, this printing is done with pre-printed gum paste block/stencil plunger. This plunger operates similar to a pasta maker where the gum is squeezed out of the brass tube onto the fabric. The metallic powder of choice is then dusted over the sticky pattern from a muslin pouch. The dust adheres only to the gum pasted stencilled areas. When dry, the excess powder is dusted off from the remainder of the fabric and saved for future printing jobs.
Originally the gold and silver was just that. Today, as the metals are much more expensive, cheaper metal powders are used instead. Its allure has made this process ever popular and the printing is now also available on paper.
The white on white khari printing is achieved by opaque pigment on the gum pasted stencil. This pigmented look mimics embroidery.
At first the fabric can be stiff as the pigment remains on the surface and does not penetrate the fibers. But with mere a wash or two, the fabric responds as it should.
photos: anokhi museum of hand printing