Monday, 9 January 2012

History of Bandhani or Indian Tie & Dye Technique

The history of dyeing can be dated back to pre-historic times. This art finds its mentions in the Alexander the great time texts about the beautiful printed cottons of India. As per evidences in Historical Texts, the first Bandhani saree was worn at the time of Bana Bhatt`s Harshacharita in a royal marriage. It was believed that wearing a Bandhani saree can bring good future to a bride. Ajanta walls stand for the evidences of these Bandhani sarees. The dyers have experimented with the use of different elements both natural and man made for ages. Also there are experiments with different binding/tying techniques to create patterns on cloth immersed in containters of dye. Different types of tie and dyes have been practiced in India, Japan, and Africa for centuries. Tie-dye became fully developed in China during the T`ang dynasty (618-906 A.D.) and in Japan during the Nara period (552-794 A.D.).

The term `Bandhani` is derived from the word `Bandhan` that means tying up. It is an ancient art practise that is mainly used in the state of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Some 5000 years ago Indian Tie & Dye or Bandhani was started. Places in Rajasthan like Jaipur, Sikar, Bhilwara, Udaipur, Bikaner, Ajmer, and Jamnagar in Gurjarat are the well known centres producing odhnis, sarees and turbans in Bandhani. Different communities in Rajasthan have for ages followed the tradition on tying turbans with different patterns of bandhani on their heads. These were used to identify which community the person belonged to.In the early days dyes were extracted from roots, flowers, leaves, and berries.

Bandhani work in India was started by the Muslim Khatri Community of Kutch. The tradition has passed from one generation to the other. 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 Leheriya, Mothra, Ekdali and Shikari depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied. The final products are known with various names like Khombi, Ghar Chola, Patori and also Chandrokhani etc.

Steps involved :

  • The area dyed is outlined using fugitive colours. Then place a transparent thin sheet of plastic, which has pin holes over this area of the fabric and using fugitive colours transfer an imprint of the desired pattern onto the fabric.
  • The artisans then pulls on a small area of the fabric where there is an imprint of hole and winds thread tightly around the protruding cloth to form a knot or bhindi. The thread generally used is nylon thread.
  • After tying the knots the fabric is thoroughly washed to remove the imprint. The cloth is then dipped in napthol for five minutes and dyed in yellow or another light color for two minutes.
  • Next it is rinsed, squeezed, dried and then tied again and dipped in a darker color. This is kept for three to four hours (without opening the knots) to allow the color to soak in. During this process the small area beneath the thread resists the dye leaving an undyed dot. This is usually carried out in several stages starting with a light color like yellow, then after tying some more knots a darker color is used and so on.
  • After the last dyeing process has been completed the fabric is washed and if necessary, starched. After the fabric is dried, its folds are pulled apart in a particular way releasing the knots and revealing their pattern. The result is a usually deep colored cloth with dots of various colours forming a pattern.

Very elaborate motifs are made, in tie and dye work. These include flowers, creepers, bells and jalas. Knots are placed in clusters each with a different name, for example, a single dot is called Ekdali, three knots is called Trikunti and four knots is called Chaubundi. Such clusters are worked intricately into patterns such as Shikargah (mountainlike), Jaaldar (weblike), Beldaar (vinelike) etc.
Some of the most common designs are
  • Dungar Shahi - the mountainpattern
  • ‘Chaubasi’ - in groups of four
  • Tikunthi - circles and squares appear in a group of three
  • Satbandi - in groups of seven
  •  Ekdali - a dot
  • Boond - a small dot with a dark centre
  • Kodi – tear or drop shaped
  • Laddu Jalebi (after the name of Indian Sweets) - the swirling

Rajasthan is well known for its Leheriya pattern or pattern of waves, which symbolizes water waves. Only two colours are used which alternate each other in a pattern of stripes arranged diagonally. Originally, the two colours used were the auspicious colours of yellow and red. The dominant colours in Bandhani are bright like yellow, red, green and pink. Maroon is also an alltime favourite. The Bandhani fabric is sold with the points still tied and the size and intricacy of the design varies according to the region and demand.

In Bandhani, different colors convey different meanings. While red represents a bride or recently married girl, a yellow background suggests a lady has become a mother recently. Also, the colours and patterns indicate the community the girl belongs.

Bandhani Products such as Bandhani Dupattas are available on on the below links:

Video on Bandhani


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