Tie and dye in Rajasthan originally began, as an embellishment to the plain coloured clothes that people in the region would wear because of the extreme heat and the plain arid feel of the natural surroundings. Tie and dye added specks, stripes and varied patterns of colour to fabric and these fabrics were worn by men as turbans or stoles to their plain white or neutral coloured ensembles. Women usually wore tie and dyed fabric as head-covers that would fall to their skirt-waist and get tucked in, in place. These were used to identify which community the person belonged to. Different colour combinations and different patterns would belong to the various communities of society.
The Muslim Khatri Community of Kutch started Bandhani work in India. The tradition has passed from one generation to the other. The art of Bandhani is highly skilled process. The technique 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. The final products are known with various names like Khombi, Ghar Chola, Patori and also Chandrokhani etc.
Myths & Legends
Varying forms of tie-dye have been in use since the time before time, when the Mesopotamians inhabited the verdant crescent many millennia ago. The art of dying is, in layman's terms, the application and bonding process of bright colors to fabric. The ability to create aesthetically appealing works of art has, for eons, been a fascination for human kind. Colors people wear have been considered an expression of their own souls for the longest time. The dying of fabric has been used in several well-known ritualistic aspects of ancient history. In ancient Egypt several different archeological digs have discovered that the bandages wrapped around various specimens of mummies were dyed in intricate color combinations, the purpose of this is not conclusive, but it is apparent that the ancient Egyptians considered colors to be an important aspect in the representation of deceased Pharaohs and other important members of their society. Evidence of the use of dyes has also been discovered far down the Silk Road in places as far off as India and even as far off as China. The Indian culture has been long considered, by people who've traveled there and by historians who've studied it extensively, a colorful culture. Brightly colored dresses and the native 'Sarong', have all been known to boast bright colors and even vague traces of what we consider to be the art of modern tie-dye; complete with brave color mixtures and picturesque blends of color. Even people of the lower castes wore colorful clothes; which helped attribute them as one of the most colorful civilizations in history. Although black sometimes symbolizes death, evil, and darkness, it isn't always an ominous color. Black also represents the night and the unknown, which is portrayed quite nicely in our Moons of Jupiter and Stained Glass designs. In Medieval times, Lords often designed crests to represent themselves on important occasions. Heraldry has also been considered a way to represent one's self through color. Colors also had their own significances in the middle ages. When looking at art, or any aspect of life involving color, it is always fun to project different aspects of yourself into everything you do, artistically and personally, or into what you wear. When taking that into consideration, it is fun, and often educational to imagine the colors that represent you fold out in front of you on your favorite designs and use the vibrant colors the same way ancient people of the earth have done; as an expression of yourself.
Tie-dye has existed for over two thousand years, and is known all over the world by different names: 'shibori' in Japan, 'bandhani' or 'leheriya' in India, 'plangi' or 'tritik' in Indonesia, 'adire' in Nigeria, 'amarra' in Peru, and 'zha-ran' in China. Most of these terms translate as something close to "tie and dye.- It's plausible that the very first iterations of tie-dye sprung up independently throughout different cultures as happy accidents when someone forgot to stir their dye bath. Over time the technique developed and certain cultures became renowned for their splendid resist-dyed textiles and garments. Early trade routes between ancient China, Egypt, and Turkistan can be traced through archeological findings of tie-dyed textiles that date back to 400-“500 CE. The spread of tie-dye and Islam occurred in tandem and could be attributed to the technique's inherently abstract nature, which must have been particularly enticing to artists working within Islamic laws that prohibit representational art. Later European colonization of the Far East and Latin America revolved largely around the trade of these textiles and the export of dyestuffs. It was not until the 20th century that tie-dye would get its current name, when RIT dye sponsored a booth at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and helped to outfit Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and an entire generation. Designs from various regions are often indicative of a community's artistic vision and cultural symbolism. Some methods are unique to a specific region, such as Japan's itajime fold-and-clamp technique. Other processes, like the circle technique, are used universally but vary immensely in style, color, and detail. Designs in Central Asia tend to be plotted out in orderly grids, while those made by the Berber artists of North Africa usually incorporate circles into fluid, free form patterns. Japanese shibori displays elaborate graphics made up of countless small-scale circles, while West African artists enlarge their circles to create bold, graphic, oversize motifs. By recognizing the breadth of designs that originated from this art form, we can begin to appreciate the infinite possibilities that tie-dye holds for current and future designers and admirers. It is difficult to trace the origins of this craft to any particular area. According to some references it first developed in Jaipur in the form of leheriya. But it is widely believed that Muslim Khatris who are still the largest community involved in the craft brought it to Kutch from Sindh. The earliest reference to bandhni is in Bana Bhatt's Harshacharita, where he describes a royal wedding; "the old matrons were skilled in many sorts of textile patterning, some of whom were in the process of being tied (bandhya mana)". This material was used to make the skirts for women. A bandhni garment was considered auspicious for the bride. One also finds the maids in the Ajanta wall paintings wearing blouses of tie and dye patterns.
Bandhani is a technique of tie and dye. As the name suggests, the technique of Tie and Dye involves two stages: tying sections of a length of cloth (silk or cotton) and then dunking it into vats of colour. The rainbow-tinged turbans of the Rajput and the 'odhanis' of their women are shaded by this method of resist dyeing. The term "bandhani- derives its name from the Hindi word Bandhan which means tying up. Bandhani is an ancient art practiced by people mainly of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Ajmer and Jamnagar are among the important centers producing odhanis, saris and turbans in bandhani. 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. Tying of the border is a special process known as sevo bandhavo. The border is tied according to the desired pattern by passing the thread from one end to the other in loose stitch so as to bring the entire portion together by pulling the thread from one end. The border portion is then covered up. Some sarees have broad matching and contrasting borders. The same applies also to the 'pallus' (end-pieces). 'Leheriya' is another technique of tie and dye practiced widely in Rajasthan. Unlike bandhani, the designs are not specks, but stripes. It is practiced on both cotton and silk
Tie and dye no longer happens with natural colors and the prominent use of synthetic dyes has led to a lot of water pollution and skin problems to the customers. There is also heavy influence of western tie and dye patterns in the tie and dye of Jaipur.