A laborious craft with hand block printing done on both sides of the fabric, the name ajrakh has many stories. Be it a king’s wish to keep his bedspread for one more day (‘aaj ke din rakh’) or finding its etymology in Sanskrit (A-jharat) and Arabic (Azrak), Ajrakh finds its roots in present day Sindh.
Bandhani is an ancient tie-and-dye technique indigenous to the western Indian state of Gujarat and certain communities in neighbouring Rajasthan, holds a special place in the rich Indian textile industry. The art of Bandhani is a highly skilled process. With evolving technology and growing investments, bandhani stands at the cusp of global glory.
In the 11th century, a battle was fought for a woven textile. King Kumarapala of Solanki Dynasty used to offer daily prayers adorned in Patola fabric. This fabric was bought from Jalna, Maharashtra. However, the king of Jalna was known to send used Patola fabric to other kingdoms. When King Kumarapala became aware of this mallicious practice, he waged a war on the king of Jalna and won. His triumph led to the migration of 700 Patola weaver families from Jalna to Patan.
Tangaliya weaving, also known as Daana weaving is practiced in Surendranagar district of Gujarat. This intricate process of twisting extra weft while weaving creates beautiful geometrical patterns and forms. The essence of Tangaliya weaving is the compositions created by colourful dots, which is simultaneously created on both the sides of the fabric.
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.
Ashavali brocade silk sarees are known for Gujarat’s rich textiles that weaves its stories around birds singing, animals dancing and flowers blooming. These surfaces were further calendered to lay emphasis on the smoothness and thinness. The value and intensity of colors changed with the passage of time. These brocades have gone through enormous changes over the centuries.
Rogan Art originated in present day Persia. The craft travelled to Nirona Village in Kutch, Gujarat around 400 years ago. The word ‘Rogan’ translates to oil based. Considered an ancient textile art, the process of Rogan art is as unique as its name.
Lippan means mud washing and Kaam means work in the Gujarati language. Lippan work started as a way to decorate walls of bhunga (mud house) in Kutch, Gujarat. The aesthetics were way different than what they are today. Motifs and designs were made in thick bold lines of clay.
The perpetual wars between the Mughals and the Marathas during the 16th and 17th century led some artisans from the Chippa community in Gujarat, Punjab and Sindh region to igrate. They settled in Rajathan and began the development of Sanganer block printing under the patronage of the royal family of Jaipur. The craft is said to be five centuries old, born out of a small village named Sanganer, located near southern Jaipur.
It is said that Bagru and Dabu hand block printing began around 450 years ago in a small village in Rajasthan. When the Chippa community travelled from Sawai Madhopur, Alwar and settled in Bagru, they started pacticing this craft. The place began to be called as Chippa Mohalla where Chippa translates to ‘to print’ in Gujarati and ‘to dye and leave in sun’ in Nepali. Their proximity to a water body (Sanjaria riverside) led to ease in access of clay which is one of the main raw materials required for this art.
Many communities migrated to Kutch over the centuries. With them, they brought various skills and craft cultures of their native places like Central Asia, Perisa, Turkey, Pakistan, Sindh. This is true especially for the hand embroiderers of present day Kutch.
Madhubani art originated in Mithila region in North Bihar. Dated back to the times of Ramayana, Madhubani paintings came into being when Raja Janak asked the women of his kingdom to decorate their houses for his daughter Sita’s wedding to Lord Rama. The women painted pictures pertaining to the themes of fertility, celebration of nature and gods. It is believed that this tradition continued and murals were drawn on clay walls of village homes.
Sujani embroidery originated in the late 1920s in Bhusra, Bihar. This craft is said to be practiced by Rajput women in their free time for personal use. They weren’t allowed to go out of their house and Sujani became a means of expression for them. Historically, it began as a form of quilting to create blankets for new born babies. Old pieces of cloth were sewn together where even the threads were pulled out from the loose ends of the fabric. This was done to envelope the baby in the soft embrace of a mother.
It is said that weaving is practiced in Himachal Pradesh for around 5000 years. Till the 1830s, decorations to Kullu weaving was restricted to variations in twill weave, checks, and plaids and were devoid of motifs. But, when the weavers of Rupa village in Kinnaur faced persecution by the local king, things changed. They fled to Kullu and introduced their style of weaving to Kulluvi artisans. This led to the development of extra weft motifs in Kullu weaving. Intricate Kinnauri motifs were enlarged and simplified over time to form the bright bold patterns for which Kullu became famous. In this way, Kinnauri weaving is the predecessor of Kulluvi weaving.