Of the many tie-and-dye and weaving patterns that are made on various fabrics, the bandhani is one of the most popular cloth-art forms. These colourful fabrics, flecked with tiny white-coloured square dots, arranged in different patterns are reminiscent of Gujarati textile art. Although bandhani is adorned by many people across India especially in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya pradesh and Bihar it is rooted deeply in Gujarati culture.
It’s one of the most cherished and adorned textile arts. It’s been a part of Gujarati culture since times immemorial and has now come to be synonymous to the fashion associated with this state of India.
The term Bandhani refers to the technique of crafting patterned textiles by revisiting parts of a fabric by tying knots on it before it is dyed. This craft is believed to have travelled from Sindh to Gujarat via Rajasthan and further on to Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The Kutch bandhani is renowned for its extremely fine dots and sophisticated sense of composition.
Bandhani is worn for both everyday and ceremonial clothing. The social, economic and cultural connotations are determined by the base fabric Gazzi silk, fine cotton muslin or wool. This craft is done at Kutch, Jaamnagar and some parts of Rajasthan.
The tying varies from small to big. The smaller ones sell at a higher price considering the intricate patterns. The purpose of the fabric is decided before hand and cut and designed accordingly.
Earlier tying was done by the women of the house while pattern making and dying is done by men.
- The design is drawn on the tracing paper/ butter paper ( Gharwal sheet). The design is then Punched- marking the design using the needle.
- The design is then traced by placing the butter sheet with punched motifs, on the fabric and rubbing fugitive ink on the tracing sheet using a brush. The ink passes through the punched holes on to the fabric. The fugitive ink is used only for tracing the designs and it is washable.
- The fabric is then sent for tying, which is usually done by the women folk in their spare time. The tying is done using a metal nail (Nau), which acts as a false nail, a Glass Tube (Bhungari) and thread. The thread passes through the glass tube and helps in tightening the thread around the knot. The artisan with the help of nau raises the cloth and then holds a pinch of it and then ties the knot. This process of tying knots is repeated throughout the design at regular intervals.
- Once the tying is done the fabric is washed in hot water to remove the fugitive ink and dried. Before dying the fabric is soaked in Alum. Alum works as a mordant and helps in the colour absorption.
Adorned by many Indian women in their day-to-day life, bandhanis are a quintessential part of most Gujarati women’s wardrobe.
A mark of girlhood, love and marital happiness, bandhani sarees forms an important part of the materials collected by a bride-to-be as part of her wedding trousseau.