It is believed that the art of Mughal carved wooden blocks was developed by artisans who were traditionally carpenters and might have borrowed the techniques and designs from Iran during the time of the Mughals. Besides certain pockets of Delhi, Pethapur, a village in the Gandhinagar district of Gujarat has one of the last surviving craftsmen communities practising this endangered art of wood block carving.
The process of making a block typically involves smoothening and polishing a block of teak with sandstone, water and a file. Teak is primarily preferred for its strength and waterproof quality. Then, the block is painted white to ensure the design is visible to the artisan. The design itself is hand-illustrated and is transferred onto a tracing paper. It is finally engraved on the block using a hand drill and a range of chisels. This process requires a lot of skill and precision. The blocks are then used to print patterns on fabric and in today’s day and age, is also used on paper and as a tool for cake decorations.