Bandhani tie-dye is one of the oldest forms of textile dyeing. An ancient art that is mainly practiced in the regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat, this technique has come to symbolise the stunning sarees, turbans and odhnis that inject these areas with colour and life.

‘Bandhani’ derives from the Hindi word, Bandhan – tying up. Quite literally, Bandhani is centred around the tying of cloth as a method of resist dyeing before being dunked into vats of brilliant colour. While this basis is relatively simple, become a master at the craft takes years to perfect; requiring a dextrous manipulation of the fingers, an expertise of colour schemes and skill in dyeing materials. The cloth is washed and bleached in preparation for the dye, before being sent to the Bandhani, more often than not women, who delicately work to lift small sections of fabric and tightly tying a thread around each bump. The smaller the raised portions, the more intricate and refined the Bandhana. These areas are then covered in wax resist and finally dipped into the chosen colour. Once dry, this process can be repeated again and again, tying the areas to be retained before subjecting the cloth to a darker dye until a captivating concoction of colour is created.

Bandhani truly is a labour of love; each cloth can contain up to 700 knots and the most elaborate boast over 1000. Patterns of dots and weaves merge together to form symbolic motifs such as the Beldaar (like a vine), the Laddu Jalebi (the swirling) or Chaubasi (groups of four). Similarly, each colour retains its own significance. The main colours used are yellow, red, green and black with yellow standing for spring or red often used for new brides. Bandhani also has a socio-religious function with certain schemes of colour and pattern indicating status and role within the community.

The earliest evidence of Bandhani dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization from around 4000 BC. In the 16th C the technique was introduced to Gujarat and has been produced by the Khatri community of textile craftspeople of Gujarat and Rajasthan since the 17th C. With the guidance of Ishwar Dewani, you can be a part of this ancient tradition, learning from a master craftsman the skills that combine to create your own stunning Bandhani. In Dewani’s workshop, you will discover the heritage of Bandhani and how it has been passed down to each generation; witnessing first hand the work behind the intricate and vivid materials that are so vital to the culture of Rajasthan before delving into your own personal creation. Leave this unique experience with a new understanding of Bandhani and your own personal slice of this beautiful tradition.

Author: Katy Landles @katylandles_art.

Discovering: Bandhani Tie-dye with a Master Craftsman

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