Bandhani (Tie and Dye) - A fabric dyeing technique in Gujarat and Rajasthan Bandhani (Tie and Dye) - A fabric dyeing technique in Gujarat and Rajasthan – RESHA

Bandhani dyeing - Poems of old times on textiles

Author - Divyashree Thacker

Tie Dye Shirts wearing hippies

The history of dyeing can be dated back to pre-historic times. The term `Bandhani` has been derived from the word `Bandhan` which means tying up. It is an ancient art practised mainly in the state of Gujarat and some parts of Rajasthan. Some 5000 years ago Bandhani work in India was started by the Muslim Khatri Community of Kutch.

In Kutch, Bandhani dates back to the 12th century.

Bandhani tie and dye became a staple local source of income with the export of these items to Europe through the English East India Company in the 18th century. Much like the local block printers, producers of bandhani use local, natural resources like madder and pomegranate to dye their cloth in a brilliant range of colours.

African girl wearing tie and dye shirt Blonde girl wearing tie and dye shirt 

The technique of tightly tying a thick twine thread around a section of cloth, dyeing it, and then removing the thread to reveal a circular resist motif has remained the same since bandhani was first practiced. The tradition has passed from one generation to the other.

The art of Bandhani or tie and dye is a highly skilled process. It’s one of the most cherished and adorned textile arts and has now become synonymous to the fashion.

Artistically made using various techniques to form designs and patterns, the many styles are all different from one another and some more popular than the other. Born in Gujarati districts of Kutch, Anand and Jamnagar bandhani is leaping over fashion barriers and making its way into a global market owing to its simple and colourful designs.

Tie and dye process

The resist technique of tie-and-dye derives its name from the Sanskrit word ‘bandhana’, which literally means tying together. Pinch-size portions of fabrics are tied together using a special thread used only for this art. After an entire piece of fabric is tied together in various portions, it is dyed colourfully. These pinches are then opened leaving white patches. The fabrics are dyed differently using natural and artificial dyes depending from item to item.

Although readily available across various cities in Gujarat, the usage of natural and artificial colours may vary geographically. The technique of bandhani however remains the same.

Today, the Khatri community is the main producer of Bandhani in Gujarat, maintaining an authority of the craft that has been passed down for generations. The demand for intricate designs featuring Bandhani is high, and the newest patterns can feature as many as one lakh ties.

indian women doing tie and dye printing

Bandhani is used for daily attire and for important and auspicious occasions, like births, weddings, temple pilgrimages and more. One of the oldest forms of surface art-work done on textiles, Bandhani also has its mention in some old Indian scriptures and manuscripts.

Women from various communities and religions, especially in north and north-western India, are passed on Bandhani clothes as family heirloom.

Khatris in Kutch are making new stitches versions and designs in Bandhani to fit the demands of modern and more international clientele. To make their way into a global market they are extensively experimenting with the size, shape, and placement of each dot on the cloth to offer a whole new range of products. Their patterns reflect an artistic sentiment to explore and play, creating new motifs with an innovative spirit. While some locals are drifting away from learning the craft, the art product is gaining more and more popularity across India and abroad.

Tie and dye shirt