Rajasthan has number of unusual crafts and the art of feather weight Razai or Quilt tops the list. Incredibly soft and comfortable to snuggle in cool winters. Craftsmen of these special quilts are spread in different regions of the state. What makes these winter coverings so popular; perhaps, the fondness for desert and being on move all the time calls to carry these thin razais comfortably to provide warmth in unfriendly weather of desert. For nobles to soldiers, gypsies, and other commons plummeting chills have become easier with Jaipuri quilts.
Boasting of implausible tenderness the quilt gains positive response for the refined craftsmanship. The talent of quilt making artisans is indeed admirable for letting us introduced to the aesthetics. Jaipur razai is an Indian version of concept of making quilts put forward by Europeans. These intricately designed snugly wrap promise an excellent night slumber.
This traditional craft is handmade in block printed cotton fabric. The colours used are mostly vegetable dyes. You will come across a fantastic aspect with this art- the involvement of household women. These women may not be educated and always behind veil handles the quilting task very proficiently. All natural quilts of Rajasthan are result of combined efforts of persons skilled in one or another job. First, block print on the voile or satin fabric is done. Blue, green, red, yellow, orange and black colours are used in designs. The patterns may be flowers, broad zig zag lines, elephants, leaves and horses. The printed fabric is allowed to dry naturally under sun.
Next, newly harvested cotton is prepared by a process known as carding. The carders remove dross from cotton fibres with a comb like setting before filling in. Carding requires a week to complete. This cotton comes from Sri Ganganagar town of Rajasthan. Approximately one to 1.5 kilogram cotton is filled so the total weight ranges from 50 to 100 grams. Layering is done. It is the most important part in quilt making process as warmth and comfort of your coverlet. Proper layering prevents sagging too. Even spread makes the quilt lightweight. Hand quilting by craftswomen holds cotton filling in place. Both single and double options are available in market. These days quilting through machines took over needles which saves lot of time. Quilting a double comforter requires about four hours in finishing.
Very basic yet environment friendly tools are used in this bedding of Jaipur; a teak wood block and natural colour to dye pattern. Separate block is used for different colours, it is interesting to count the number of blocks used. Rich blue colour from oxidizing the water obtained from leaves of Indigo plant, pomegranate peels boiled for about two days yields yellow and is mixed with Turmeric to give stronger colour. Turmeric spice up with a range of complementary mixes with Indigo or Madder root that produce green and orange or rust colour respectively. Similarly, black is obtained from iron and red from Alizarin and alum.
Nokha near Bikaner and Jaipur are popular centres to buy these super soft comforters. These thin cotton quilts wrap around body, drapes better around curves.
Due to commercialization naturals are replaced by synthetics. Mineral dyes are being used in place of Natural dyes, satin and velvet fabric is opted in place of cotton voile and filled with synthetic fibre. Natural dyes are skin friendly. Synthetic fabric has no aeration like cotton fabric and also the synthetic cotton filled quilt do not guarantee warmth as the pure cotton filled Razai. They are not fluffy as natural razai.
A genuine Jaipuri Razai assures protection from Rajasthan winters and has won hearts on International platform too.