This tie and dye craft of Wadhwan in Surendranagar is done to mostly produce lengths of fabric, which they later cut and sell according to dress sizes, unstitched clothing and saris. The locals wear bandhani on a daily basis as well as on special occassions. The bandhani of Wadhwan was so famous that other royal families of the state and country also used to buy bandhani cotton fabric from here.
75% of Wadhwan population is engaged in this business in one or the other way. Business of Bandhani was started in wadhwan by the Brahmkshtriya (Khatri) community and still most of the brahmkshtriyas are involved in this business. Now days other communities are also getting involved in this business. Main reason for this is that Wadhwan's bandhani is famous in Gujarat and in other parts of India. Water of Wadhwan is one of the key reason for the development of this business here. Wadhwan is also the place where the Bandhani was born. Wadhwan's soil
was also a reason for development of this business. In olden days when colours where made from the natural elements the soil of Wadhwan had the widest range of colours available at that time. Later with time, due to modernization and competition now they do not use the natural colour any more.
Myths & Legends
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.
The wide variety was evolved over the centuries because of its close links with the religious and social customs of different people. Bandhani work involves tying and dyeing of pieces of cotton or silk cloth. The main colours used in Bandhani are yellow, red, green and black. Bandhani work, after the processing is over, results into a variety of symbols including, dots, squares, waves and strips. The main colours used in Bandhani are natural. In fact all colours in bandhani are dark, Rajasthan is one of the most important centers of the tie and dye textile. Each area, each caste and each tribe has its special designs.
The main colours used in Bandhani are yellow, green, red, pink, and black. The colors commonly used signify different things like -“ red, a symbol of marriage, saffron, a color worn by yogi who has renounced the world, yellow, which stands for spring and black and maroon, used for mourning.
Bandhni material is sold folded and with the knots tied. One has to pull the folds apart for the knots to open. The payment is made according to the number of dots in the pattern. An intricate design in a sari would have approximately 75000 dots. What is essential in bandhni is the minute and skillful manipulation of the fingers for tying, extensive knowledge of color schemes and skill in dyeing materials. It takes several years for a craftsman to perfect his skill.
Basically there are two types of Bandhej:
- Bandhej for design
- Bandhej for basic colour
Bandhej for Design
This Process is mostly done by women at home. So once the distribution of design cloths is done to these women, they do the bandhej at home. Bandhej for design is a very fine small bandhej which needs time and accuracy. Once this bandhej is done it goes back to wholesaler and they send this cloth for colouring. Once the colour is done if design needs more bandhej, then it again goes to the ladies for one more bandhej and then again for colouring.
Bandhej for Basic colour
This Bandhej is done when the cloth is sent for the colour and it is done by the person who is colouring the cloth. This bandhej is done using polythene and plastic thread as shown in photo. After this bandhej it goes for the colour. After colour this polythene are used again for the bandhej for other similar bandhej. If the design demands more small and different bandhej it again goes for design bandhej. If not then after colour they left it open to sky to dry. In summer it takes around 4-5 hours to dry, in monsoon sometime it takes 2 days to dry in and in winter it takes 6-7 hours to dry.
The craftsmen face no challenges as of today but the craft in general is causing harm to the environment because the constant mixing of artifical colours with groundwater.