Bandhani - Process & Technique

Bandhani - Process & Technique

The art of Bandhani is highly skilled process. The technique involves dyeing a fabric which is tied tightly with a thread at several points , thus producing a variety of patterns like Lehriya, Mothda, Ekdali and Shikari depending on the manner in which the cloth was tied.

Different forms of tie and dye have been practiced in India. Indian Bandhani, a traditional form of tie and dye, began about 5000 years ago. Also known as Bandhni and Bandhej, it is the oldest tie and dye tradition still in practice. Dyes date back to antiquity when primitive societies discovered that colours could be extracted from various plants, flowers, leaves, bark, etc., which were applied to cloth and other fabrics. Even though color was applied they didn't consider this dyeing. It was simply a form of embellishment. What was considered dyeing was the art of using color to form a permanent bond with fiber in a prepared dye bath. Ancient artists discovered that some dyes dissolved and gave their color readily to water, forming a solution which was easily absorbed by the fabric. Herbs and plants like turmeric and indigo were crushed to a fine powder and dissolved in water so that cotton material could be dyed in deep colours. These colours have been used in India since ancient times and are considered to be the origin of the art of dyeing. Throughout Asia, India and the Far East, traders packed tie and dye cloths as part of their merchandise.

It is difficult to trace the origins of this craft to any particular area. According to some references it first developed in Jaipur in the form of Leheriya. But it is also widely believed that it was brought to Kutch from Sindh by Muslim Khatris who are still the largest community involved in the craft.

Bandhani was introduced in Jamnagar when the city was founded 400 years ago. Bandhani fabrics reign superme in Rajasthan and Gujarat which are home to an astounding variety of traditional crafts. Century-old skills continue to produce some of the most artistic and exciting wares in these two states and are popular all over the world. Rajasthan is a land of vibrant colors. These colors are a striking part of the life there and are found in the bustling bazaars, in fairs and festivals, in the costumes worn and in the traditional paintings and murals.

The art of Bandhani is practiced widely in Rajasthan, with Barmer, Jaipur, Sikar, Jodhpur, Pali, Udaipur, Nathdwara and Bikaner being the main centers. Bandhani comes in a variety of designs, colors and motifs and these variations are region-specific. Each district has its own distinct method of Bandhini which makes the pattern recognizable and gives it a different name.

The centers of tie and dye fabrics in Gujarat are Jamnagar in Saurashtra (the water in this area brings out the brightest red while dyeing) and Ahmedabad.The craftsmen from Rajasthan are easily recognized because they grow the nail of their little finger or wear a small metal ring with a point to facilitate the lifting of cloth for tying. The Gujarati craftsmen, however, prefer to work without these aids to ensure no damage is done to the cloth when one works with bare hands.

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