Pali is a small industrial town in Rajahstan. Despite being way off the beaten tracks, we were amazed by the treasures it yielded.
For the record, it’s by digging around for this article that I found that geologists date the origins of the Pali plateau back to prehistory, the Vedic period (between 1500 and 500 BC) to be precise. Back then, it was a place for prayer and meditation, before slowly evolving into a market town around the 9th century. In today’s Pali though, this part of History seem like a distant dream. The number of households doesn’t hide a certain sense of emptiness to the place, warmed up by a hot relentless Sun and the smiles of the locals.
Pali is still, however, the most famous and biggest producer of printed fabric sold in India.
While strolling in the small alleys, we get spotted easily. Tourists are a rare sight in the neighbourhood, so the joyous interest is palpable!
Delphine spends some time with this lady, clothed with a sarees and wearing choodas (bracelets), a token to show her status as a married woman.
We follow the path clearly marked by the chimneys in the distance, to reach the district relevant to our interests: the industrial district producing the cloth used for sarees and turbans.
Behind the first walls, we get a glimpse of the freshly printed fabric racks.
After a few rebutals from bigger factories, we manage to find a few smaller workshop eager to show their work.
The contrast of colors between the outside wall and the boiler room - right at the entrance - is striking. It’s an invitation!
The whole process to apply the various colors to the fabric is actually the same used for the African "pagne", as shown in our previous post on the subject. previous article on this subject
There, we uncover an open laboratory, and "advanced" logistics for the chemical process.
We get to see the tincture workshop.
The PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) consists of an apron...
...or a longi (masculine skirt)
The cloth ribbons - sometimes 50m long - are set to dry a first time on bamboo racks, 8 to 10m high!
Delphine had the pleasant surprise of climbing up to the supposedly restricted areas. She got kidnapped by girls around our age!
The young ones deftly and almost casually walk on the bamboo sticks, where the can oversee the whole factory.
The drying lasts a few hours, mostly depending on the weather
...the women then start the folding.
The colored fabric undergo a (roller) printing process afterwards. Direct Print is usually favored.
In another factory, not far from the first...
...we got to see reserve printing in action:
The fabric is coated with waterproof products (here wax) on some parts, so instead of printing the symbols, it colors the whole fabric -around- them.
In both cases, drying is necessary.
The fact that stark looking machinery such as these manage to produce amazingly shimmering pattern is hard to grasp!