Eastern Hemisphere, Travel

Jaipur, Part 4: The Anokhi Museum

The Anokhi Museum is not one of the main tourist attractions of Jaipur. But we decided we’d had enough visiting historical sites, and it was time for some culture. Jaipur is recognized as a hotbed of hand printing in India. Hand printing, or block printing, is a textile craft where people take large pieces of fabric and then print patterns on them using a carved wood block and ink. It’s called “hand printing” to distinguish it from the much cheaper machine printing methods, and it’s called “block printing” because you do it with a set of wooden blocks; the patterns repeat. It’s similar to the batik method that we saw in Indonesia.

Anyhow, since Jaipur (and Rajasthan in general) is famous for these methods, someone started a museum to show off both historical styles as well as the styles of modernized resurgent art. Unlike many of the other tourist attractions we visited in Jaipur, nobody tried to sell us cheap souvenirs, or beg for money, or scam us. We just paid our very modest entrance fee and went in and walked around the museum.

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The museum itself is a refurbished haveli that was built about the time of the Amber Fort a few hundred years ago. It had fallen into disuse and was collapsing when the museum took it over and fixed it up. In fact, it’s built right into the wall around the city. A haveli is a large traditional house, what in the west we might call a mansion.

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One of the best parts of the museum was the demonstrations we got on the third floor. There was one guy who demonstrated carving wood into a small wood block to be used for printing; Beth kept that block as a souvenir. Then there was another guy who demonstrated using the many blocks in a set to color different parts of the pattern. I had done this same sort of thing a few days earlier when I visited (sort of by accident) the textile factory. So since I’d already made my own block print (which I kept as a souvenir), I let Beth do all the hands-on stuff this time, and I just took photos.

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Once we were finished at the museum, Moin took us to a nearby stepwell that not many tourists visit. It’s called Panna Meena ka Kund. It’s free and it’s interesting, since we hadn’t visited a stepwell before. I assume this one dates from the time the rest of Amer was built up as the regional capital, in the late 16th century.

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Temple near the stepwell
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The stepwell itself

After that we headed back to our hotel, satisfied with our full day of sightseeing.

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