Bandhini sarees are stocked in their tied forms; the final pattern is opened out in a brilliant dramatic display of design for the buyer

Bandhini

Hailing from the arid lands of Rajasthan and Kutch, Bandhini sarees, with their vibrant hues, embody the spirit of the people of the land.

The hardy people of this land offset their dry surroundings with a celebration of colour in various aspects of life. Bandhini, also known as Bandhej and tie-and-dye, comes from the word “bandhan” which means to tie or restrain. This technique uses thread restraints to create beautiful patterns on cotton, silk and muslin.

There are references to the beautiful printed cottons of India in texts going back to Alexander’s time. Bandhini ‘dots’ depicting the life of Buddha are seen in the Ajanta caves. Between the 5th and 9th century AD, the art reached China and Japan.

The process of creating a Bandhini is intriguing. Small portions of the fabric are tied with thread and then the whole is dyed – the tied portions do not ‘catch’ the dye and when the restraints are removed, beautiful patterns emerge – in dots, squares, waves, stripes. The process is repeated as the fabric is dyed several times in different colours – from the lighter to darker shades to create a medley of colours. Traditionally, colours were extracted from roots, flowers, leaves and berries.

Today commercial dyes may be used.