The Ancient Art of Woodblock Printing

There’s something reassuring about a product or process that remains largely unchanged despite the passing of over a thousand years.

Woodblock printing on textiles is thought to have originated in ancient China sometime before the year 220. The Incas of Peru, Chile and the Aztecs of Mexico also practiced textile printing previous to the Spanish Invasion in 1519, but no one knows whether they discovered the art for themselves, or, in some way, learned its principles from the Asiatics.

Today woodblock printing remains the same as it has been done for centuries for the pure and simple reason that the highly individual and artistic results produced cannot be achieved any other way.

In this day and age of technology and mass production, it’s comforting to know the age-old process of hand woodblock printing is still revered and appreciated even though the process, though considered the most artistic, is the earliest, simplest and slowest of all methods of printing.

Ladli uses this ancient art to print our designs, creating individual and beautifully intricate prints for our handmade kaftans and dresses.


 In this process, a design is drawn on, or transferred to, a prepared wooden block. A block cutter then carefully carves out the design on the wood so that when complete, the block presents the appearance of a flat relief carving, with the design standing out.

To print the design on the fabric, the printer applies colour (or wax) to the block and presses it firmly and steadily on the cloth, ensuring a good impression by striking it smartly on the back with a wooden mallet. The process is repeated until the desired length of fabric has been completely printed. If wax has been applied, or multiple colours are required, the fabric is then dyed and dried before the end design is revealed.

When you wear a handmade Ladli design you aren’t just wearing a sustainable, fashionable garment, you are wearing a unique piece of art and history.

Leave a Reply