The craft of dyeing in India has held a deep meaning for thousands of years. One of its earliest visual representations can be seen in the Ajanta caves. In India, “bandhani” (tie & dye) work was started by the Khatri community of Gujarat.
Bandhani is an ancient craft and is still in practice. It is used to make saris, odhnis and turbans. Bandhani comes from the word “bandhan” which means tying up. This technique is used to make different patterns. People often wear a unique pattern that identifies them as a member of a particular community.
Bandhani techniques have been passed on from generation to generation. Many patterns can be made in a variety of ways, depending on how the cloth is tied. Places in Rajasthan like Jaipur, Sikar, Bhilwara, Udaipur, Bikaner, Ajmer, and Jamnagar in Gujarat are the well- known centers, producing odhnis, saris and turbans in bandhani.
The fabric area to be dyed is outlined lightly in color. A sheet with pin-sized holes is placed on top and then the color pattern is transferred onto the fabric. The dyer then pulls a small amount of fabric through the hole and makes a small knot. After all the knots are tied, the fabric is rinsed, excess liquid squeezed out, and then it is dried, tied again and dipped again in a darker color.
The result of the Bandhani Tie-Dye technique is a beautifully dyed fabric with elaborate shapes and designs, such as flowers and bells. The most common clusters and patterns of knots are identified with unique names. Also known as “bandhej”, this tie and dye method is practiced mainly in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and parts of Uttar Pradesh.