Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur have become major commercial centres for the sale of Bandhani and Leheriya prints.
Hailed as a part of the oldest surviving tie and dye traditions of the world, Bandhej and Leheriya are techniques of patterning fabrics by tying parts of them in different ways, that prevents the penetration of dyes. Over time, cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur have become major commercial centres for the sale of such clothing items, especially sarees, that are dyed in this manner. Let's take a look at the inception and technique of these Rjasthani craft forms that are famous across India for their vibrant hues and stylistic patterns.
Oldest dyeing traditions of Western India
Bandhani (also referred to as Bandhej) traces its etymological roots to the Hindi word- Bandhan, which means ties. An ancient art practised mainly in Western India, Bandhej is the art of tying small dots on a fabric with a continuous thread and dyeing it. Interestingly, it requires artisans to have long fingernails so that fabric can be tied and dyed with maximum precision possible.
Initially developed in Jaipur around the 17th-century, Leheriya is a technique where diagonal patterns are created on the fabric through resist dyeing. These wavy patterns are said to have been inspired by the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. It is also stated by some that each royal house of Rajasthan had a signature Leheriya pattern and colour that only the respective household could adorn.
While Bandhej and Leheriya are the most famous tie and dye prints from Rajasthan, the technique of resist dyeing can produce a variety of patterns. Hence, different motifs on fabrics are available such as Ekdali and Shikari. Mothra is considered to be an extension of Leheriya and in this, diagonal lines cross each other in opposite directions, giving rise to diamond-shaped structures.
These tie and dye techniques are a true reflection of the vibrant culture and unusual topography of Rajasthan, which distinguishes the state from other parts of India. So, plan a post-pandemic tour to the famous open-air markets of this state to add a few authentic and artistically dyed fabrics to your wardrobe!