Bandhani, the traditional art form of India

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Bandhani, the traditional art form 

Gujarat, the wondrous state of pristine parks, dramatic vast lands and pilgrim places characterizes luminous splendor and opulence. It is no less than a land of legacies laced with treasures and sublime fables.  Apart from the carnival charm it possesses, it homes rare crafts and maestro craftsmen that find this state a suitable haven to practice numerous art forms. Bandhej is the most popular art form widely put into practice in this vibrant state. Countless wanderers from places far and wide visit this famous travel spot, not only to witness the immaculate beauty of its enigmatic culture but also the inimitable Bandhej work.

Did you know?

Bandhej, also known as Bandhani or Tie-dye is practiced mainly in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. This art derives its name from the sanskrit word “Bandhan” that means “to tie”. As per the evidence in historical texts, Bandhej dates back to the pre-historic times of Alexander the great.

According to history, the first Bandhani Saree was worn at the time of Bana Bhatt`s Harshacharita in a royal marriage. The walls of the world famous Ajanta caves also stand evidence to this explicit traditional art of India. Bandhej has a rich history and has been practiced and passed on from one generation to another. Muslim Khatri Community of Kutch were blessed with this art that slowly and steadily flourished across the country.

Conventional Method or the Making

Tie-dye is one of the most conventional methods of printing in India. It showcases an artistic and ethnic assortment of motifs, designs or patterns that possess their own special significance. This art renders appealing colors to simple fabrics. The technique used in Bandhej involves the dyeing of fabric that is tightly tied with a thread at several points to create varying patterns.

Red, green, blue, black and yellow are the main colours that are used in bringing numerous molds to life such as Leheriya, Ekdali, Mothra, and Shikari, depending upon the manner in which the cloth is tied. Primeval artists extracted natural colors from flowers, berries and leaves etc. that were used to dye the fabrics. Natural extracts include, marigold, safflower, blackberries, red cabbage, sage and indigo etc.

Steps involved 

The process begins with outlining the dyed area with fugitive colours. Then, a transparent thin sheet of plastic having pin holes is placed over the dyed area of the fabric. This is done to attain a desired pattern that is imprinted on the fabric by making use of fugitive colours.

The artisans then pull on a small area of the fabric that has an imprint of hole and wind a nylon thread tightly around the protruding cloth to form a bhindi or knot. Once the knots are tied, the fabric is then thoroughly washed to remove the imprint. Further the cloth is dipped in napthol for five minutes and is dyed in a lighter color.

In the next step the fabric is dipped in a darker colour and is rinsed, squeezed, dried and then is tied again. Without opening the knots the fabric is kept for three to four hours to let the colour soak in. This process is repeated several times, at first with a lighter color then after tying some more knots with a darker colour and so on.

On completion of the final dying process, the fabric is washed and starched, if necessary. At the final stage, after the fabric is dried up, its folds are pulled apart releasing the knots and revealing the pattern. This results in deep colored cloth with dots of various colors forming engaging patterns. 

The end result

Jalas, flowers, creepers and bells are few of the interesting patterns that can be obtained in tie & die work. The knots that are tied are placed in clusters each possessing different names. Dungar Shahi (the mountain pattern), Beldaar (vine like) and Jaaldar (web like), Chaubasi, Tikunthi, Satbandi, Ekdali, Boond, Kodi, and Laddu Jalebi are some of the designs that are the most common in Bandhej.

Social Customs & Links  

Bandhej since its inception shares innate links with social and religious customs across the country. Odhnis, turbans and sarees characterizing Bandhani work are linked with numerous occasions. A Bandhani saree in red represents a bride and is believed to bestow her with a good future. The one featuring yellow background signifies a lady who has recently become a mother. Various others colors, patterns and designs vary as per the community, region and social events.

Popularity  

Bandhej is one of the finest and the most popular art of India. This astounding traditional craft has been popular across the country since ages. Gujarat is one of the most recognized hubs famous for Bandhej art. Countless Gujarati craftsmen toil day and night to produce an explicit specimen of Bandhani art that showcases the beauty in every minute detail. This century old skill has found its way in bustling bazaars, festivals and fairs. Bandhani’s popularity and demand has increased over the past few decades. Main market being in Gujarat, trades in Bandhej characterizing gota, tassels and mirror work to lend this exquisite art with distinctive beauty and rare appeal.

Wandering past Gujarat

Take the roads untaken and wander past the dramatic lanes of Gujarat. Mingle with the locals and discover this ancient undying art. Visit a home of traditional artisan in tribal villages and witness the legacy of Bandhej unfurling in front of your eyes. Are you an eager roamer? If yes, follow the tourist trail and don’t miss to halt at Gujarat, the birthplace of Bandhej and a traveler’s most loved stopover.

 

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