Resist dyeing has been an age old craft that has been explored to print fabrics in beautiful forms. Akola has given a new dimension to this technique with resisting the cloth using blocks dipped in tar. The fabric is dyed in indigo and the tar is washed off, resulting in bright rich textile pieces.

Raw Materials

Fabric: Cotton fabric mostly of the count 20X20 is sourced from Kishangarh.
Pigments: The pigments and dye stuff are procured from Udaipur.
Tar (for Dabu): A mixture of tar, oil and Rogan is printed with blocks on the fabric and resists the flow of colour in the area during dyeing. 
Ash: Ash(rakh) is spread onto the tar printed areas of the cloth, to help the drying process
Naphthol: Alizarin was traditionally used in the process but is now replaced with Naphthol. 
Gaund: The printed fabric is layered with a gum solution to enable the easy removal of tar during washing.



Water wastage is involved, as the fabric needs to be washed in water several times, firstly for dyeing and washing the fabric and later for removal of the resist. There need to be measures to reuse the water for other purposes. Also, with the advent of chemical dyes and other mordents, the residue water which washes back into the ground is polluting the groundwater of the region, and will be causing damage to the ecosystem in the times to come.

Tools & Technology

Printing Tables: Small wooden tables are used for placing the fabric and block printing. Its size is around 150cm x 60 cm. 
Dyeing Trays- Trays made of wood or plastic are used to fill the dye 
Blocks- Wooden blocks with required patterns are used to print on the fabric
Boilers- Huge 'Kadhai' like vessels with boiling water to help in the process of removal of tar from the fabrics. These big boilers were set up in Akola with support from the Government.




-The fabric is first printed with Naphthol, in areas where the design is required in red colour. Naphthol dyes are insoluble dyes, which are used by applying a Napthol to the fiber and then combining it with a diazotized base or salt at a low temperature which produces an insoluble dye molecule within the fiber giving the required colour.

-The fabric is left to dry in the sun.

-The fabric is dipped in a red salt, which reacts with the naphthol to give a bright red shade to the printed areas.

-A printed fabric is now dipped in a gum (gaund) solution that later helps in the removal of tar which acts as a resist in the process.

- A mixture of tar, oil and rogan is now is applied to the carved wooden blocks which is then printed on the cloth in the areas that have to be resisted. Earlier a mud paste was used for this purpose.

- Ash is then sprinkled on the fabric as it helps in quick drying of the printed fabric along with avoiding the sticking of the cloth together.

-The process of indigo dyeing is now carried out to dye the fabric. It is a cold dyeing process where the cloth is dipped in a solution of Indigo dye. When dipped, the cloth turns to a rich green color which turns to a deep indigo shade once its exposed to dry air and it undergoes rapid oxidation. The process is repeated again to obtain the required shade.

-The printed and dyed fabric is put in boiling water to remove the tar which comes off the fabric, floats in water and can be reused.

This process is used to develop the traditional Akola print in red and indigo colors. In case of indigo dyed dabu resist fabrics, the cloth is printed with blocks dipped in tar and sprinkled with ash. This acts as a resist and prevents the dye to penetrate in the certain parts of the cloth.  The cloth is then dipped in a solution of indigo dye. A deep indigo shade is obtained due to a rapid oxidation process on exposure to air. The printed fabric is washed in boiling water to remove the tar, most of which is reused.