Speckled with tiny square shaped dots, textured with crinkled crease of fabric, dyed with vivid dramatic colors; bandhani or tie and dye of Gujarat attracts all the attention and admiration. Floral or abstract, circles or zigzags, figures or animals, birds or trees- diverse patterns are created by the distinctive technique of tie and dye which is traditionally beckoned as Bandhani or Bandhej. As the name suggests, the resist technique of tie-dyeing is derived from the Sanskrit name Bandhana or Bandha. The name which refers to both the technique and the end-product is created by the tedious process of pinching and resist tying of the fabric before dyeing. The tied areas indicating the patterns remain undyed creating dotted outlines of forms.

Varied range of patterns illustrated by white or yellow dots, lyrically composed on bright deep red and black background, has always been a striking identity of traditional attire for some communities in Gujarat. The prominent color contrast is always well balanced by inimitable sense of composition and symmetry of the design forms. Bandhani artisans of the state today have gone far beyond the traditional ethos and express their creativity in riots of color combinations. Fabric dyed in red, maroon, pink, yellow, ochre, orange, green, mauve, violet, sky blue, indigo, black, white and many-many more hues radiates the proficiency and ingenuity of the dyers in Gujarat.

Bandhani considered as symbol of girlhood, love and marital happiness and has been an auspicious and significant part of wedding ensembles. Playful patterns of Rasleela to flamboyant depiction of flower gardens, the themes explored and created by the artisans reflected social themes, nature, rituals and many other inspirations. Simple dots identified as bindi or bundi are created with variations in form of circles which are called laddu and squares known as dabbi or box. Tear-shaped dots are also created by stitch resist technique. These tiny dots are meticulously composed to form patterns of desire exuding elegance, style and beauty on varied range of fabrics. Silk, cotton, wool, cotton-silk, jute and many other fabrics constitute the material paraphernalia of a bandhani artist in Gujarat.

Each pattern has a given name and is usually worn for specific occassions.Names are based on the patterns they most represent,such as 'Ambadal','Chandrakukdi','Kalger','Shikari' and many more.The circular pattern known as the 'Ras Leela'based on the dance of the'Gopis' and 'Krishna' is a common theme.

The creative ingenuity of the artisans today is expressed in an array of products with assorted new motifs and patterns. From the curtains of the living room to stoles for making a fashion statement, artisans of Gujarat express their knack and fervor in contemporary Bandhani.

Traditional Trivia

Bandhani is one of the oldest forms of surfacial embellishment done on textiles. Oldest reference of its antiquity goes back to the Jain Manuscripts followed by miniatures in which noble people have been depicted bedecked in clothing adorned with tiny dots. Women from both Hindu and Muslim communities in western India and Sindh consider bandhani textiles as a significant form of attire and constitutes as a vital part of their wedding trousseau.

The meticulous process of tie and dye though worn by diverse community is created mainly by the Khatri artisans. The scrupulous technique involves many hands and minds and is created by the harmonious unanimity of labor and love of all involved in the process. The chitarnar or the artist draws the patterns on the fabric, the bandnari or knotter pinches and ties the dots and the Ranganaar or dyer who finally dyes the textile piece. Textiles where more than three to four colors are used, the lightest hue is dyed followed by tying and thereafter dyeing it in brighter color.

Each community in Gujarat has its unique identity of Bandhani illustrated with the colors, patterns, compositions, signifying the individuality of the group. In pastoral or rural areas of Gujarat, a woman can be easily recognized or identified as the member of a community by the kind of Bandhani and associated textile attire she is wearing.

Community Involved

Traditionally practiced by Khatri artisans though now other communities are also adapting the profession.

Raw Materials Used

  1. Silk, Cotton and wool fabrics
  2. Natural Dyes
  3. Chemical Dyes