Know Your Craft ?
Baluchari used to be practised two hundred years ago in a small village called Baluchar in Murshidabad district, from where it got the name Baluchari. This particular type of sari originated in Bengal and is known for depictions of mythological scenes on the pallu of the sari. Mythological stories taken from the walls of temples are woven on Baluchari sarees.. It is mainly produced in Murshidabad (a district in West Bengal). The specialty is the large pallu, with a large pattern radiating from the centre. The body of the saree carries zari buttas.
Meenakari type balucharis has threads in 1-2 colours along with attractive Meenakari work in another colour that further brightens the pattern. Swarnachari (Baluchari in gold) is the most gorgeous balucharis that are woven with gold coloured threads (sometimes interspersed with a bit of silver) that illuminate the patterns to a much larger extent.
Varanasi or Kashi has an ancient history of textile designing. The most exquisite brocades in silk and gold are woven by the weavers on silk pit loom. The weavers of Varanasi are best known for their skill in brocade weaving and known as Kinkhabs. There are many exquisite designs in this variety and it is even impossible to copy or imitate the saris as the loom is very intricate in construction.
The designs are translated by "Naksha Bandas" on to frames or Kakshas. The Naksha is tied to the loom. At times, more than six shuttles are used to get multi-colours in 'buttas' ornaments used in the body of sari. There are some famous brocade saris showing the cowherd God Krishna and his cow and another playing on flute. Varanasi weavers have re-oriented this to bring out a fine cutwork pattern.
Weaving is done by three persons. The Joria is seated behind the loom, raises the selected threads of silk warp. On these the embroidery is laid with shuttles of gold, silver and silk thread by the karigar, the master weaver assisted by the joria or the weaving assistant. The warp threads are then lowered and the weft is picked up. The origin of this old technique has been obscured by time but the Moghul influence is seen in the motifs, which often depicts floral patterns and hunting scenes.
Bandhani is a type of tie-dye practiced mainly in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, India. The term Bandhani is derived from the Sanskrit word banda ("to tie"). Bandhani is also known as Bandhej or Tie & Dye or Bandana, etc. as per the regional pronunciation. Tie and Dye is one of the oldest textile techniques where portions of cloth are tightly tied before dyeing.
The art of Bandhani is a 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 Laheriya, Mothara, Ekdali and Shikari depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied. The main colours used in Bandhani are yellow, red, blue, green and black. Bandhani work, after the processing is over, results into a variety of symbols including, dots, squares, waves and strips. Bandhani pieces can be dyed by natural and artificial colours.
The main colours used in Bandhani are natural. In fact all colours in Bandhani are dark, no light colour is used, and the background is mostly in black / red cloth.
Bhuj and Mandvi of Kutch District & Saurashtra of Gujarat State in India are well known for the finest quality of Bandhani. Bandhani work is also done in Rajasthan state but having different types of colours In Bandhani, different colours convey different meanings. While red represents a bride, a yellow background suggests a lady has become a mother recently.
A popular and well known method of creating ornamental designs on cloth is block printing. Geometric and floral designs are printed on both sides of the cloth though these are not always the same. The colour palette is restricted to black, maroon and buff. Bagh in Madhya Pradesh is another traditional block printing centre with colour similar to Bagru: red and black. The base cloth is treated to make it receptive for printing. Ajrakh from Dhamadka in Kutch, Gujarat, is a technique by which patterning is created by resist printing. Both surfaces of the fabric are printed, with a perfect placement of blocks to make the designs on either side identical. The colours are mainly red and blue.
In spite of the intrusion of mechanical processes, synthetic dyes and chemicals, the art has survived in many regions although not in the past scale. The local artisans and people have continued to keep the art alive. In certain places it has even flourished in recent times with some modifications due to a spurt in the export market. Such fabrics have acquired a position of sophistication for some foreign buyers.
Chanderi sari is a traditional sari made in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, India. The famous weaving culture started during 2nd century and 7th century.
Chanderi refers to a shimmering cotton fabric which is famous for being light weight and having sheer texture and glossy transparency. Practiced exclusively in a town called Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh, India, the art derived its name from. Saris weaved out of Chanderi are best for summer wear. Motifs used in Chanderi weaving are mostly inspired from nature (earth and sky). Few of them are Swans (hansa), gold coins (asharfi), trees, fruits, flowers and heavenly bodies. Soft pastel hues characterize Chanderi fabrics however, timeless combinations of bright colour borders on an off white base, or red on black, also exist now.
Chanderi sarees produce three kinds of fabric i.e. pure silk, Chanderi cotton and silk cotton. Traditional coin, Flora art, Peacocks and geometrics are woven into different Chanderi patterns.
Chikan embroidery, renowned for its timeless grace and its gossamer delicacy, a skill more than 200 years old --- exploited, commercialised but not dead. In fact, the craft is alive and struggling to regain some of its former beauty and elegance. Chikan embroidery is done on fine cotton fabric. The garments – shirts, skirts, saris, and table linen are first embroidered and then finished/stitched. A study of the origin of Chikan reveals that this form of embroidery had come to India from Persia with Noor Jehan, the queen of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The word Chikan is a derivative from the Persian word 'Chikan' meaning drapery. Some, however, insist that the craft migrated from Bengal. What we know is that Chikankari came to Oudh when Mughal power declined in Bengal and the artisans moved to the Oudh durbars, seeking employment and patronage.
Chikan embroidery has a repertoire of about 40 stitches of which about 30 are still being used. These can be broadly divided into 3 heads - flat stitches, raised and embossed stitches, and the open trellis-like jaali work. Some of these have equivalents in other embroideries, the rest are manipulations that make them distinctive and unique. They cover almost all the embroidery stitches of the country and have interesting and descriptive names.
The main flat stitches with their traditional names are Tepchi, Pechni, Pashni, Bakhia Khatao, khatava .The bolder or knottier stitches include the Murri, Phanda, and Jaalis.
Textile hand printing is the process of applying colour to fabric in definite patterns or designs. In properly printed fabrics the colour is bonded with the fabric, so as to resist-washing and friction. Textile printing is related to dyeing but, whereas in dyeing proper the whole fabric is uniformly covered with one colour, in printing one or more colours are applied to it in certain parts only, and in sharply defined patterns. In printing, wooden blocks, stencils, engraved plates, rollers, or silkscreens are used to place colours on the fabric. Colourants used in printing contain dyes thickened to prevent the colour from spreading by capillary attraction beyond the limits of the pattern or design.
The Resist Process called Dabu used here involves using of wax or gum clay mixed with resin. With the help of a brush or block or by hand this is applied to the portions of the cloth. The colour is then applied to it. The wax is then washed off in hot or flowing water and the applied colour moves into this area to give a diffused effect. This process is somewhat similar to the batik process. Now Block printing is done on the portion of the cloth where the original colour is retained. The fabric is highlighted by printing Specific outlines and patterns against the contrast colour. The use of wax gives the designs a broken appearance like batik once the resist is washed off. The small Chaubundi print in indigo is famous in Birbhum in West Bengal.
Chanderi, Mangalgiri, Maheshwari ,Tussar are few options for Hand Printed Sarees.
Ikat, or Ikkat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process on the warp fibres, the weft fibres, or in the rare and costly 'double ikat' both warp and weft, prior to dyeing and weaving.
In ikat, the resist is formed by binding bundles of threads with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The threads are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered and the thread bundles dyed again with another colour to produce elaborate, multi-coloured patterns. When the dyeing is finished the bindings are removed and the threads are woven into cloth. In other resist-dyeing techniques such as tie-dye and batik, the resist is applied to one face of the woven cloth, whereas in ikat the threads are dyed before weaving, and both faces are essentially identical in appearance.
The double Ikat pattern originated in Gujarat, Orissa and Pochampalli in Andhra Pradesh. The double Ikat Patola from Orissa and Patan in Gujarat require very intricate weaving. The Bomkai thread work from Orissa features ornate borders and heavily embroidered drapes with touches of Ikat work in some instances. The double Ikat sarees are considered to be one of the expensive ones.
The dominant feature of the Jamdani is its magnificent design which is essentially Persian in spirit. The method of weaving resembles tapestry work in which small shuttles of coloured, gold or silver threads, are passed through the weft. The most coveted design is known as the “panna hazaar” (literally meaning a thousand emeralds) in which the floral pattern is highlighted with flowers interlaced like jewels by means of gold and silver thread. The “kalka” (paisley), whose origin may be traced to the painted manuscripts of the Mughal period, has emerged as a highly popular pattern. Yet another popular pattern in Jamdani is the “Phulwar”, usually worked on pure black, blue black, grey or off-white background colours.
Jamdani, because of its intricate patterns, has always been a highly expensive product and was essentially meant only for the affluent nobility in those days.
The Kalamkari tradition is more than three thousand years old. The earliest fabric samples of this craft found in the Mohenjo-Daro excavations date back to 3000 B.C. Some samples of Madder dyed cloth with traditional Indian motifs have also been discovered.
Kalamkari is the ancient art of decorating cloth with the aid of a Kalam or pen. A term mainly used to describe cotton fabrics patterned through the medium of Vegetable dyes by free-hand painting and block-printing, this category of fabric now covers a wide range of textiles produced in many regions of India. The term Kalamkari is however applied to the fabrics produced in the Southern districts only because the ancient tradition of patterning with the Kalam is still practised here. Even where the fabric is block printed, the Kalam is used to draw finer details and for application of some colours. The Mughals who patronized this craft in the Coromandel and Golconda province called practitioners of this craft "Qua-lamkars" and the distinctive term “Kalamkari", for good produced in this region persists even to this day.
While this Kalamkari tradition centered in the coastal city of Machilipatnam, The basic black dye used by the Kalamkari craftsman is an iron liquor preparation known as Kaseem. This is made by soaking hoop iron bits in a solution of jagger (Molasses) and water in a mud pot. The solution takes about twenty days to mature when it is decanted and taken for printing and painting.
There are two distinctive styles of kalamkari art in India - one, the Srikalahasti style and the other, the Machilipatnam style of art. The Srikalahasti style of Kalamkari, wherein the "kalam" or pen is used for free hand drawing of the subject and filling in the colours, is entirely hand worked. This style flowered around temples and their patronage and so had an almost religious identity - scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners and the like, depicted deities and scenes taken from the great Hindu epics - Ramayana. Mahabarata, Puranas and the mythological classics.
The first Kanjeevaram sari is believed to have been woven around 400 years ago. The origin of this saree can be traced back to the ancient temple town of Kanjeevaram (a.k.a Kanchipuram) in modern TamilNadu.
The Kanjeevaram saree is characterised by gold - dipped silver/ pure gold threads that are woven onto rich, beautiful, brilliant silk. The borders and the pallus carry ornate zari work. The designs involve vertical and horizontal lines as well as checks. The colours range from vibrant orange to mauve to purple, green, maroon, blue and rust. The heavier the silk, the better the quality of the saree. Peacocks and parrots, swans, mangoes and leaves are the commonest motifs. Another important character of these sarees are the vertical sets of caret (triangular) signs/marks lining the borders; they resemble pinnacles of temples and hence probably the name.
Kantha is the most popular embroidery of West Bengal done with folk motifs. The Kantha Embroidery is predominantly the most popular form of embroidery practiced by the rural women. The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done on soft dhotis and saris. The thread for this craft was drawn out of the borders of the used cloth. It is a simple running stitch made on the edges. The cloth is white or light coloured which makes the embroidery perceptible.
Depending on the use of the finished product they were known as Lepkantha, Sujni Kantha etc. The embroidered cloth is used as saree for women and shawls. The clothes also find use as covers for mirrors, boxes, pillows etc. The entire cloth is covered with running stitches and usually has beautiful folk motifs, floral motifs, animal and birds figures and geometrical shapes. Themes from day to day activities are also a common subject for the embroidery. Such stitches on the cloth give it a slight wrinkled wavy effect. It is popular in the present day garments like the sarees, dupatta, shirts for men and women, bedding and other furnishing fabrics.
Laheria (or laheriya) is a traditional style of tie dye practiced in Rajasthan, India that results in brightly coloured cloth with distinctive patterns. The technique gets its name from the Rajasthani word for wave because the dyeing technique is often used to produce complex wave patterns.
Laheria dyeing is done on thin cotton or silk cloth, usually in lengths appropriate for turbans or saris. Traditional laheria employs natural dyes and multiple washes and uses indigo or alizarin during the final stage of preparation. Mothara is an additional dyeing using the laheria technique in the making of Mothara, the original resists are removed and the fabric is re-rolled and tied along the opposite diagonal. This results in a checkered pattern with small undyed areas occurring at regular intervals. The undyed areas are about the size of a lentil, hence the name Mothara (moth means lentil in Hindi).
Laheria turbans were a standard part of male business attire in Rajasthan during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and for women folks in Rajasthan it is one of the prized possessions. During the festivals like Teej, the Sarees are worn as a custom. Laheria is produced in Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Nathdwara.
Madhubani or Mithila art is practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar state, India. The paintings were traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas. Madhubani paintings mostly depict nature and Hindu religious motifs, the themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
Making use of fabric paints, Madhubani art is displayed on Tassar silk, Cotton and even chiffon, drawing themes from traditional Indian folklore, mythology and auspicious symbols. Sometimes the hand painted pallu depicts the entire story of Ramayana.
Madurai has been a textile centre since ages. The streets and lanes are lined with shops and tailors offering readymade as well as fabric material manufactured in Madurai. Madurai is famous for "Sungadi", a fine-count, zari-bordered, fabric painted cotton saree. It was originally hand made, but now the dots are printed. Sourashtra community was specialising in that. The lovely Sungundi Sarees are in great demand among Indian women. These are handloom sarees of excellent quality.
The name of Chinnalapatti sarees is synonymous with Madurai. Chinnalapatti a famous historical village 12 km from Dindigul, is well-known for its rich and traditional cotton sarees. Sarees Produced in Chinnalapatti are famous throughout India. More than 1000 families are engaged in this Industry. Chinnalapatti had only been weaving cotton sarees for the past 100 years. Now they produce sungudi sarees with zari borders in various designs and art-silk sarees. Sungudi industry provides livelihood for nearly 50,000 people in chinnalapatti.
Paithani saree are hand woven in pure silk. It features round zari motifs on the body and intricately hand drawn and woven border and pallu with Asawali flower vines. The pallu has picturesque flowering Asawalis in pots. The Asawalis became popular motifs on Paithani weaving during the Peshwa period. A Marathi bride's trousseau is incomplete without a Paithani saree and it is considered a precious heirloom gem passed on from a mother to her daughter.
The Paithani saree is a reflection of the glorious history of the state of Maharashtra, preserved for over 2000 years.Among the most breathtakingly beautiful sarees made in India figures the Paithani sarees, woven exclusively in the Paithan region of the western state of Maharashtra.
The typical, traditional Paithani used to be a plain sari with a heavy zari border and ornamental pallu. In the bygone centuries, the zari used in making Paithani was drawn from pure gold. However, nowadays silver is substituted for gold, in order to make these sarees more affordable to many people.
Many centuries ago a temple priest in Patan, Gujrat did an unforgivable act as he stopped King Kumarpal of the Solanki dynasty and Queen to enter the temple as Queen was wearing a Patola Saree which was second-hand and not pure. The King said that he had bought it from a Merchant in his Kingdome but the priest said Patola sarees are only made in Jalan, Maharashtra. King Kumarpal invited about 700 families of Patola weavers from Jalan in South Maharashtra to settle down in Patan in North Gujarat and since then Patola has been synonymous with prestige and honour.
The textile known as Patola forms the traditional garb of a Gujarati bride. The term 'Patola' is derived from the Sanskrit word pattal (a spindle shaped gourd). Its technique is also complicated. The weft and the warp are dyed separately, before weaving, according to the selected design.
Thereafter, as the weaving takes place, exact intended designs emerge. Due of its complicated manufacturing process, very few designs are available. Patola is classified according to the designs like Wadi Bhaff which has a flowering creeper motif or 'Nari-Kunjar' in which motifs of female figures and elephants appear.
As very few families are remaining in Patan, the production of the each saree takes 4-12 Months and its quite expensive .The colours used in the Patola of Patan are so fast that a Patola may get torn or worn out but its design would never fade.
Phulkari is a very refined embroidery work of Punjab. It is an embroidery technique for decorating sarees, shawls and dupattas for daily as well as ceremonial uses with flowery surface. Phulkari literally means “flowering”. The darn stitch carried out on the wrong side of coarse cotton cloth with coloured silken thread characterizes Phulkari. Bright coloured silk threads like golden yellow, crimson, red, orange, green and pink are usually used. The motifs like flowers, fruits or birds and other carrying a rich repertoire of the folklore and from everyday life are generally embroidered on the cloth.
In the olden times, accomplishment of a bride and her mother was judged by the beautiful Phulkari and bagh they made. Even the affluence of the families was judged by the number and work of Phulkari and bagh they gave to their daughters in their trousseau. They also made ceremonial pieces which were used in marriages, at the time of birth of a child and during festive occasions. Phulkari is known for their vibrant colours, geometric pattern and gaiety which is an integral part of the life and tradition of the people of Punjab.
Pochampally is a Tehsil in Nalgonda District, Telangana, in southern India and is popularly known as Silk City of India. Pochampally is an interesting collage of tradition, history, heritage, modernity and widely known for Pochampally Saree. Pochampally weave is popularly known as Ikkat or tie and dye weave. The uniqueness lies in the transfer of design and colouring onto warp and weft threads first and then weaving them together. The fabric is cotton, silk and sico - a mix of silk and cotton.
Pochampally has traditional looms, whose design is more than a century-old. Today this Silk City is home to more than 10000 weaving families in 100 villages. Pochampally products are handcrafted to perfection by skilled artisans who are endowed with critical skills in intricate designs, having decades of experience behind them in their respective fields. In certain cases these masterpieces can take up to one hundred and twenty days to take final shape, to the satisfaction of our craftsmen.
The word 'Zardozi' is made up of two Persian terms, Zar meaning gold and Dozi meaning embroidery. A Persian embroidery form, Zardosi attained its summit in the 17th century, under the patronage of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Zardozi embroidery is beautiful metal embroidery, which once used to embellish the attire of the Kings and the royals in India. It was also used to adorn walls of the royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses. Zardozi embroidery work involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads. Further adding to the magnificence of the work are the studded pearls and precious stones.
The process of doing Zardozi embroidery starts with the craftsmen sitting cross-legged around the Addaa, the wooden framework, with their tools. The tools include curved hooks, needles, salmaa pieces (gold wires), sitaaras (metal stars), round-sequins, glass & plastic beads, dabkaa (thread) and kasab (thread). The second step in the process is to trace out the design on the cloth, if possible fabrics like silk, satin, velvet, etc. The fabric is then stretched over the wooden frame and the embroidery work begins. Needle is used to pull out each zardozi element and then, it is integrated into the basic design by pushing the needle into the fabric.
Zardosi embroidery work is mainly a specialty of Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Mumbai, Ajmer and Chennai.
India has long been known for its gold thread, zari. Even in the Vedic age, zari was thought to have adorned the attire of Gods, and has held therefore a distinguished place among Indian crafts.
Historically, zari consisted of pure silver wires whose surface was fused with real gold leaves. This was known as kalabattu. Real zari is made from flat silver wire that is electroplated with gold. Zari made from these precious metals is used for ceremonial sarees, richly embroidered apparel, furnishings, etc. Imitation zari, on the other hand, is made from copper wire. A third variety, plastic zari, is made from a chemically-coloured metallic yarn. More than 20 colours of zari are now produced, and there are varieties such as zari on glass, zari on wood etc.
The principal Indian Manufacturer for zari products are Chennai, Mysore, Bangalore, Salem, Madurai, Kanchipuram, and Kumbakonam in the south; Jaipur, Delhi, Amritsar and Varanasi in the north, Kolkata in the east, and Mumbai and Nagpur in the west.