The history of Bandhani or Tye & dye can be dated back to pre-historic times. 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.). Bandhani work in India was mainly started by the Muslim Khatri community of Kutch, Gujarat. Places in Rajasthan like Jaipur, Sikar, Bhilwara,Udaipur, Bikaner, Ajmer and Jamnagar in Gujarat are the well known centres producing odhnis, sarees and turbans in Bandhani.
The term 'Bandhani' is derived from the word Bandhan that means tying up. It is a highly-skilled tie- dye technique which 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. Rajasthan and Gujarat states of India have their own style of Bandhani, unique to their region.
Bandhani is a tie and dye technique. Bandhani is derived from ‘bandhana,’ which is a Sanskrit word for ‘to tie’. It is an ancient form of textile industry, which is believed to have originated during the Indus valley civilization. The mordant dyeing equipment found at the famous Indus site of Mohendjodaro suggests these dyeing and printing methods could have been in practice this far back. This is further suggested by the stone statue of a Brahmin priest wearing a patterned scarf, which some believe could have been printed. 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 luck. More accurate evidence of Bandhani in ancient times can be found on the walls of Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, depicting female figures wearing bodices with spotted pattern and ikat skirts.
In modern times, the craft of making Bandhani sarees was started in Gujarat by the Muslim Khatri community of Kutch. Today, bandhani work is mostly done in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
A bandhani saree is traditionally made out of muslin or silk. The richness of silk is what gives the saree the festive fervor. However, with changing tastes, Bandhej sarees are now made in georgette and chiffon as well for that contemporary look. The making of Bandhani saree is a long process. Usually men do the dyeing while women do the tying. The fabric is first tied tightly with a thread at different spots. As a result, various designs are produced on the cloth like Leheriya, Mothra, ekdali and Shikari, After it is dipped in a dye solution, and the knot is removed, you get various symbols on the fabric like spots, squares, dots, stripes and waves. The final products that you get are named as Khombi, Patori, Ghar Chola, Chandrokhani and so on. A cloth of one meter in length may have thousands of knots on it called ‘bheendi’. These knots decide the design that you get on the cloth after you dip it into the dye solution with bright colors.
In terms of colors, “riot of colors” is what best describes Bandhej sarees the best. The main colors used are natural colors like green, red, yellow, blue and black. Artificial colors are also used.
The finest quality of bandhani is found in Bhuj and Mandavi of Kutchh district in Gujarat. Bandhani of Jetpur in Saurashtra is also well known, but it is quite different and has its own style. Rajasthan is equally an important centre for this textile. Bandhani of Rajasthan has colors and designs that are different from the ones in Gujarat. 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 2 colours used were the auspicious colours of yellow and red. Now other colours are also used.
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.
This craft is practiced by Khatris in Kutch, in Bhuj, Abdasa Taluka, Anjar and Mandvi. Saurashtra in Southern Gujarat has larger bandhani workshops in Jamnagar, Porbandar, Morvi, Rajkot and Wadwhan near Surendranagar. Bikaner, Jodhpur, Barmer, Jaipur and Udaipur are a few bandhani centres in Rajasthan.
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