Bandhani –the art of tie and dye

Bandhani designs are among the everlasting fashions that people from every generation adore. Be it sarees, scarves, or dupattas, this is one simple format that never goes out of fashion. Bandhani is one of the oldest known methods of tie-dyeing and is still widely practiced due to its popularity.

I always thought Bandhani was far too expensive, until I realized the painstaking efforts that go into the making of the material. It dawned on me that it is well worth it.

Bandhani is native to the artisans of Gujarat, particularly Bhuj, Mandvi, Khavda, Bara, Anjar and some other parts of Gujarat which are main centres of production of tie-dye material. I had this opportunity to meet the artists and see how it was all done. I found a number of people, particularly women, working at it the whole day. A lot of women are employed to create self-sustaining organizations of skilled workers.

The term Bandhani comes from the Hindi word “bandhan” which means tying up. The process of tieing and dyeing the material is quite simple but laborious and time consuming. The cloth to be tied and dyed is spread on a wooden table and the desired designs are marked on it. The portions marked are picked and tied up at intervals depending on the design. The entire cloth is then dyed. The portions that are tied do not soak the colours and remain in their original colour - thus creating the pattern as desired.

The patterns are made up of innumerable dots which display a motif or some design when spread out. When two colours are involved, the lighter colour is dipped in the die first and then the cloth is dipped in the darker one. After the process of tying and dyeing, the cloth is washed with soft water and the knots removed.

The material used for tie and dye are usually cotton, silk and georgette. The materials absorb the colours and produce the desired effects of Bandhani as required.

Bandhani creations involve laborious efforts. Some of the revenue would surely reach the artisans who create this wondrous art.

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