Appliqué is an ancient technique of creating beautiful and decorative items with different pieces of cloth. In India, applique has been a part of religious traditions for centuries, though it also holds historic prominence in countries such as China, Benin, Pakistan and Egypt. The art is also prominent in Gujarat among the Rabari community.
Applique is a type of embroidery that employs a smaller patch or fabric to be applied or sewed onto a larger fabric or surface. It is mostly one piece of fabric in its entirety. Applique derives its roots from French culture and it means ‘something applied’ or a thing that has been applied. The history of Appliqué cannot be pinpointed as such. It was not an art form but a convention that stemmed from the necessity of harsh times. Appliqué was discovered first when clothes were ripped and needed fixing in order to appear decent and wearable. The craftsmen used to sew over the top of the ripped area–using patches of different materials whatever came handy, later known as patchwork. Appliquéd cloth has been an important art and craft form in Benin, West Africa, especially in the area around Abomey, where it has been an integral tradition since the early 18th century and also in and around the kingdom of Danhomè. Appliqué is an ancient technique of creating beautiful and decorative items with different pieces of cloth.
Nomadic people of the desert have long pieced together their tents and even decorated them with elaborate appliqué. This serves both economic and decorative purposes. Small pieces of fabric are cut and joined side by side to make a large piece of fabric or for repairing a damaged fabric. The craft seems to have been prevalent all over India.Patchwork and appliqué are done in many different geographical regions of India with each area having its own particular local aesthetic. The main centers where the crafts are practiced are:
- Rajasthan: Barmer, Jodhpur, Ranthambore and Jaisalmer
- Gujarat: Kutch
- Himachal Pradesh: Kangra and Chamba
- Orissa: Pipli