PATOLA – The Exclusive Art from Gujrat

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The ancient art of patola weaving (double Ikkat ), dating back to the 4th century AD originated in Patan, Gujarat. Epics like Ramayana and Narsinha Purana refer to the use of patola in marriage ceremonies as an auspicious garment. This traditional art received great patronage during the Chalukya period. The most time consuming and elaborate saree created in the western region is which has intricate five-colour designs resist-dyed into both warp and weft threads before weaving, resulting in a completely reversible fabric.

The process itself has never left the area of its origin – although imitations do exist. The final product is available in an array of beautiful, bright colors, and that the weave is pretty tight, and a closely knit one, that’s often complemented by bright, Indian motifs and designs. It is used as a bridal wear in Gujarat.  In almost all Patolas, the entire body of sari is patterned and combinations of designs are used in borders and pallav.  A few have double Ikat borders and pallav with single coloured plain body.

Their distinctive repetitive, often geometric designs fall into three types

  • purely geometric forms reminiscent of Islamic architectural embellishments and ajrak (complex geometric print designs of the (sind), such as the navaratna bhat (nine jewels design);
  • floral and vegetable patterns which, like the former, catered to the needs of the Muslim market which eschewed depictions of animals and people, such as the Vobra bhat (Vohra community design), paan bhat (paan leaf or peepal tree leaf design) and chhaabdi bhat (floral basket design); and
  • designs depicting such forms as the nari (dancing women), kunjar (elephant) and popat (parrot). Patola made for the South-East Asian market often had large triangular tumpals resist-dyed into the endpiece, a pattern missing from most patola made for the Indian market. Only the Vohra Muslims used a version of it in their wedding sarees.

A silk ikat saree industry has recently developed in Rajkot (Gujarat) that creates patola and modern geometric designs in the weft threads only: Because so much less labour is involved in making these sarees, they are considerably cheaper than the double-ikat patola.

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The tie and dye weave method is resulting in identical pattern on both sides of fabric.  Red, Yellow, Green, Black, and White are traditional colours used in weaving.

The basic patterns which are mostly used; are of plant, zoomorphic and geometrical motifs.  The most popular designs are Narikunjar, Pan Bhat, Fulwagh and Chaokadhi Bhat using motifs of flowers and birds.

The most found designs are:

  1. Chhabdi Bhat: Basket pattern.
  2. Fulvadi Bhat:  Flowering pattern.
  3. Ratanchowk Bhat:  Jewel mosaic- includes floral elements.
  4. Pann Bhat:  Pipal leaf pattern.
  5. Akhrot Bhat:  Walnut motifs.
  6. Nari Bhat:  Women and Elephants designs.
  7. Wagh Bar Hathi Bhat:  Consisting of tigers and 12 Elephants.
  8. Vohra Cheer Bhat:  A geometrical pattern usually worn by Vohra Muslims at wedding and auspicious days.
  9. Maharas Bhat:  Women dancing a typical Gujarati folk dance.

The Ikat Art on Fabric – Great in Demand and Difficult to Weave

Ikat, kat, or ikkat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric. Ikat is an Indonesian language word, which depending on context, can be the nouns: cord, thread, knot and the finished ikat fabric as well as the verbs “to tie” or “to bind”.  In ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed.

Ikat is similar to tie and dye in regards to the use of resist dyeing to produce elaborate patterns. First the yarns are wound onto a frame. Then they are tied into bundles. The warp yarns are then wrapped tightly with thread or some other dye-resistant material to prevent unwanted dye permeation. The procedure is repeated, depending on the number of colours required to complete the design. Multiple coloration is common, requiring multiple rounds of tying and dyeing. The newly dyed and thoroughly washed bundles are wound onto the loom to produce the warp (longitudinal yarns). Warp threads are adjusted for the desired alignment for precise motifs.

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A characteristic of ikat textiles is an apparent “blurriness” to the design. The blurriness is a result of the extreme difficulty the weaver has lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern comes out perfectly in the finished cloth. The blurriness can be reduced by using finer yarns or by the skill of the crafts person. Ikats with little blurriness, multiple colours and complicated patterns are more difficult to create and therefore often more expensive.

This form of weaving requires the most skill for precise patterns to be woven and is considered the premiere form of ikat. The amount of labour and skill required also make it the most expensive, and many poor quality cloths flood the tourist markets.

With the traditional process of making Ikat sarees by hand, the process can take up to seven months between two people to complete one length of a saree. To produce a single length of a saree even using the automated process, the numbers of steps involved are 14 elaborate ones.

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In warp ikat it is only the warp yarns that are dyed using the ikat technique. The weft yarns are dyed in solid colour. The ikat pattern is clearly visible in the warp yarns wound onto the loom even before the weft is woven in. As sarees are a sought-after garment by both Indian locals and modern-day fashionistas, warp ikat sarees produced in these regions continue to be in high demand.

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In weft ikat it is the weaving or weft yarn that carries the dyed patterns. Therefore, the pattern only appears as the weaving proceeds. Weft ikats are much slower to weave than warp ikat because the weft yarns must be carefully adjusted after each passing of the shuttle to maintain the clarity of the design.

Weft refers to the yarn that produces visible dyed patterns as it is woven into the warps in order to produce fabric. The process of weft ikat is more time consuming compared to warp ikat. This is due to the artisans’ intricate attention to detail in the adjustment of the weft, necessary throughout the weaving process in order to maintain the consistency and clarity of patterns.

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Double Ikat is a technique in which both warp and the weft are resist-dyed prior to weaving. Obviously it is the most difficult to make and the most expensive. Double ikat is only produced in three countries: India, Japan and Indonesia.

We are going to talk in detail about Patola (Silk from Gujarat) & Vichitrapuri (Cotton from Orissa), the two wonders of Double Ikat Exclusive Sarees produced only in India. Pochampally, Telia Rumals & many more varieties of sambalpuri Ikats in the days to come.

Luxurionworld offers many varieties of Ikat to suit your style

 

 

Ajrakh Blockprint: Highest Standard of Elegance with Vegetable Dyes

When the world is buzzing with “sustainability” and “environment-friendly” as the newest big trends of the future, for many centuries, innumerable crafts have existed in harmony with nature. Some things are so subtle that they do not glare out, yet so vivid that one cannot help but appreciate the aesthetics in their creation. One such craft is the Ajrakh.

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Traditionally, Ajrakh is the name of a block printed cloth with deep crimson red and indigo blue background, bearing symmetrical patterns with interspersed unprinted sparkling white motifs. An ancient craft, the history of the Ajrakh can be traced back to the civilizations of the Indus Valley that existed around 2500 BC-1500 BC.

The term “Ajrak”, may be derived from “Azrak”, meaning blue in Arabic, as blue happens to be the one of the principal colours in Ajrak printing.  Ajrak craft products are made with natural dyes. The entire  production  of the products include both vegetable dyes and mineral dyes. Indigo is key dye.

Ajrakh cloth carries many meanings. The popular story amongst local printers is that Ajrakh means “keep it today.” It is also linked to azrakh, the Arabic word for indigo, a blue plant which thrived in the arid ecology of Kachchh until the 1956 earthquake.

The cloth is made in a sixteen step process of washing, dyeing, printing, and drying, which requires a high level of skill and concentration in order to keep colors fast and even.

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The authentic Ajrakh is printed on both sides by a method called resist printing. The printing is done by hand with hand carved wooden blocks. Several different blocks are used to give the characteristic repeated patterning. Making the blocks is a considerable challenge since the pattern has to synchronize perfectly with the whole of the Ajrakh as well as to cover various areas against dye.

Ajarak printing is a long process involving many stages of printing and washing the fabric over and over again with various natural dyes and mordants such as harda, lime, alizarin, indigo and even camel dung. The technique of resist printing allows exclusive absorption of a dye in the desired areas only and prevents absorption on the areas intended to be left uncolored.

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The raw fabric in full length is pulled exhaustively through the river many times, scoured, beaten, steamed, mordanted, printed with resist mud pastes from the banks of the river, covered with powdered camel dung and ground rice husks; dyed in deep madder and indigo.

Unlike other processes of printing on cloth, where the colour is applied directly to the cloth, in Ajrakh block printing, the fabric is first printed with a resist paste and then dyed. The process is repeated again and again with different kinds of dyes, to eventually achieve the final pattern in the deep red and blue hues. This gradual process is also very time consuming, as the longer an artisan waits before beginning the next step, the more vivid the final print becomes. Thus, the entire process can take upto two weeks resulting in the creation of the beautiful eye-catching patterns of the Ajrakh.

This craft has been on a decline because modern, quicker methods of printing and bright chemical dyes are replacing the natural, muted colours and this slow and careful process of printing this traditional textile. But with efforts of the master craftsmen and increasing awareness among the urban people, this crafts is slowly gaining momentum. Because of being an environment friendly ancient craft, Ajrakh, is slowly gaining visibility among the cosmopolitan.

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Luxurionworld offers you wide variety of Sarees, Dupattas, & stoles with Ajrakh Block Printing. All pieces are exclusive and comply with the highest standard of dyeing.

Baluchari Sarees: The Epic Sonnet of Indian Textile

Baluchari Sarees

Baluchari sari is a fabric woven in plain weave, but brocaded in unique designs with untwisted silk threads. Extremely colourful, a traditional Baluchari is said to have been woven in 17 different colours.

The name “Baluchari” originates from a peripheral town of Ziaganj in Murshidabad known as Baluchar, 23 kms North of Beharampur on the river Bhagirathi; which became the focal point of textile art in the Eighteenth century.

Its chief characteristic is the emphasis on 14 to 32 inches Anchala (Pallu) or end piece; which decorates with utmost skill; the motifs and subjects worked on can now be looked upon as a reflection of contemporary life-style and tradition. A remarkable feature of it is introduction of human figures in their contemporary costumes and modes.

The Baluchari is figured with Hamsa (Swan) and other animal motifs. Peacock motif either single or in pair, rows of deer in alternate colors, floral motifs, flowering shrubs, mango – motif, or Kalka, the tree of life or meandering creeper are used in it. Human motifs with Muslim settings are also used. They are usually decorated with floral designs as a ground work; leaving base a central rectangle which is ornamented by four mango motifs in the corners and human figures are arranged in rows along the sides of the rectangle.

Pictorial representation of subjects includes a seated lady holding a flower, a lady riding on horseback, a lady smoking a traditional Hookah, a pair of ladies with birds in hands or in conversation. Male figures include males on horseback, prince proceeding to battle holding an unsheathed dagger, nobleman smoking Hookah, with falcon in hands, riding on elephant with mahout holding a flag, a lion or tiger hunter and cannoners in panels etc. These pictures had an impact of Muslim environment in respect of their dress, hair – style, posture etc.

These designs had later dominated by European rule such as  Locomotive carrying Europeans, sometimes with both Europeans and Indian passengers and attendants, Double – Decker steam launches with passengers and crew inside with a dog in lower section of the launch, European ladies and gentlemen riding coaches drawn by horses, Europeans being driven in chariots etc.

The Baluchari has shades of Red, Yellow, Green, Purple and Chocolate besides while and shot colors and no Black dye. In order to obtain effect of Black, deep indigo and deep Chocolate colors are used.   The ground colors are usually dark and the pictorial designs are woven silk threads of lighter colors like cream etc.

The production of this ancient Indian brocaded silk in Murshidabad finally came to an end at the beginning of the twentieth century.  The art of Baluchari weaving was revived by the All India Handicrafts Board in the district of Bishnupur in West Bengal and today they are being woven in Varanasi, too.  The colours and patterns are woven according to present day consumer needs and though some beautiful Baluchari textiles are produced, the elusive charm of the old sari is lost.

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Pretty Paithanis

From being the preserve of royalty, the Paithani has grown to become an essential saree in the wardrobe of every Indian woman, which is usually available in a variety of rainbow colors. The saree is named after a village near Aurangabad in Maharashtra. The richest and most creatively time-consuming of all the shallu  sarees,  Paithani  sarees continue to be popular especially for weddings

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Besides cultural influences, the Indian penchant for mythological origins takes the birth of the Paithani back to the times of gods and goddesses, when Goddess Parvati remarked that she did not have an attire to wear for an Apsara’s wedding. Overhearing her words, Lord Shiva immediately asked his weavers to create a fabulous saree for his beautiful consort. They set to work, weaving rich threads of gold and silk. But instead of the usual process of ornamenting a silk textile with motifs of gold as they had always done, they skillfully reversed the concept and wove the body of the textile with pure gold thread embellishing it with exquisite motifs of silk.

The enormous amount of labour, skill and sheer expense of materials used to create the best of these sarees rivalled the other luxury fabrics of the Mughal courts. Even into the twentieth century, these sarees had royal associations. In the revival of Paithani weaving, the production was oriented towards export requirements, while saris were produced only for sophisticated buyers.

Paithani evolved from a cotton base to a silk base. Silk was used in weft designs and in the borders, whereas cotton was used in the body of the fabric. Present day Paithani has no trace of cotton. Paithani can be classified by three criteria: motifs, weaving, and colours.

Paithani is characterized by borders of an oblique square design, and a pallu with a peacock design. Plain as well as spotted designs are available. Among other varieties, single colored and kaleidoscope-colored designs are also popular. The kaleidoscopic effect is achieved by using one color for weaving lengthwise and another for weaving widthwise.

The specaility lies in the technique; the design being woven without the assistance of a mechanical contivance like a jacquard or jala.  The material takes longer than most (months on end) to be woven. It uses multiple ‘ Tillis ‘ (bomboo needles) or spindles to produce the design.  The borders are created with interlocked weft technique either with coloured silk or zari.  A wide band of supplementary warp zari is woven upon the coloured silk border.  In borders woven with a zari ground, coloured silk patterns are added as a supplementary weft inlay against the zari; usually inform of lower or creeping vines often woven with colors going lengthwise and widthwise for a little variation causing a rainbow effect.  The weft threads are only of zari, forming a golden ground upon which angular, brightly coloured silk designs are woven in the interlocked weft technique, producing a tapestry effect.

These patterns usually consist of intertwining vines, branches, leaves and flowers as well as Parrots, Peacocks, and even Horses and riders. The end piece (Pallu) has fine silk warp threads that are cut and retied to a different color as in the Petni technique of Kanchipuram.

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It takes approximately one day to set the silk threads on the loom. “Tansal” is used to put the “wagi”. The “pavda” works like the paddle to speed up the weaving. The “jhatka” is used to push the “kandi” from one side to the other. “Pushthe” is used in designing the border of Paithani in which it is punched according to design application. “Pagey” are tied to the loom. The threads are then passed through “fani”.

Zari is a metallic yarn, made of pure silver. Originally, zari was manufactured in Yeola; Surat now being another zari-producing center. Initially, zari used in making Paithani was drawn from pure gold. However, silver is the affordable substitute today. Due to proximity to the Ajanta caves, the influence of the Buddhist paintings can be seen in the woven Paithani motifs, Small motifs like circles, stars, kuyri, rui phool, kalas pakhhli, chandrakor, clusters of 3 leaves, were very common for the body of the sari. The dominant traditional colours of vegetable dyes included:

My Bandhani Saree: Beautiful Art of Tie & Dye

Bandhani, one of the oldest known methods of tie-dyeing, is still widely practiced in western India today. The fabric is made by pinching very small portions of cloth and tying them by plucking the cloth with the fingernails into many tiny bindings that form a figurative design to form an intricate pattern of dots. The cloth is then placed into different dye vats to form bright and beautiful colors.

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The term bandhani is derived from the Sanskrit word banda (“to tie”).

Today most Bandhini making centers are situatied in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sindh, Punjab region and in Tamil Nadu where it’s known as Sungudi.

Bandhani is also known as Bandhej, Bandhni, Piliya, and Chungidi in Tamil as per the regional delicate. Leheria or leheriya derives from the word lahar, meaning wave is also another unique form of tie dye technique used in Rajasthan. Other tying techniques include Mothra, Ekdali and Shikari depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied.

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Overview

The term `Bandhani` is derived from the word `Bandhan` that means tying up. The art of Bandhani is a highly skilled process. The technique involves dyeing a fabric which is tied tightly with a thread at several points, thus producing a variety of patterns like Chandrakala, Bavan Baug, Shikari etcetera; depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied. The main colours used in Bandhani are yellow, red, blue, green and black.

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The main colours used in Bandhani are natural. As Bandhani is a tie and dye process, dying is done by hand and hence best colours and combinations are possible in Bandhanis.

The Bandhani work has been exclusively carried out by the Khatri community of Kutchh and Saurashtra. A meter length of cloth can have thousands of tiny knots known as ‘Bheendi’ in the local language (‘Gujarati’). These knots form a design once opened after dyeing in bright colours. Traditionally, the final products can be classified into ‘khombhi’, ‘Ghar Chola’, ‘Chandrakhani’, ‘Shikari’, ‘Chowkidaar’, ‘Ambadaal’ etc.

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Bandhani work is also done in Rajasthan state but having different types of colours and designs than the Kutch and Saurashtra of Gujarat. In Bandhani, different colours convey different meanings. People believe that wearing Red brings good luck to a newly wed’s life.

Places in Rajasthan like Jaipur, Sikar, Bhilwara, Udaipur, Bikaner, Ajmer, and Jamnagar in Gurjarat are the well known centres producing odhnis, sarees and turbans in Bandhani. Different communities in Rajasthan have for ages followed the tradition on tying turbans with different patterns of bandhani on their heads. These were used to identify which community the person belonged to.

History

Earliest evidence of Bandhani dates back to Indus Valley Civilization suggests that dyeing was done as early as 4000 B.C. The earliest example of the most pervasive type of Bandhani dots can be seen in the 6th century paintings depicting the life of Buddha found on the wall of Cave I at Ajanta. This art finds its mentions in the Alexander the great time texts about the beautiful printed cottons of India. As per evidences in Historical Texts, the first Bandhani saree was worn at the time of Bana Bhatt`s Harshacharita in a royal marriage. It was believed that wearing a Bandhani saree can bring good future to a bride. Ajanta walls stand for the evidences of these Bandhani sarees.

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My holiest saree from the Ghats of Benaras

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Banarasi Saree

A Banarasi saree, often part of an Indian bride’s trousseau is mostly worn by Indian women on important occasions such as when attending a wedding and are expected to be complemented by the woman’s best jewelry. Made in Varanasi, a city which is also called Benares or Banaras. They are among the finest sarees in India and are known for their gold and silver brocade or zari, fine silk and opulent embroidery, decorated with intricate design, and, because of these engravings, are relatively heavy.

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The brocade weaving centers of India developed in and around the capitals of kingdoms or holy cities because of the demand for expensive fabrics by the royal families and temples. During the Mughal period, around 14th century, weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads became the specialty of Banaras. With the migration of silk weavers from Gujarat during the famine of 1603, it is likely that silk brocade weaving started in Banaras in the seventeenth century and developed in excellence during the 18th and 19th century.

Their special characteristics are Mughal inspired designs such as intricate intertwining floral and foliate motifs, kalga and bel, a string of upright leaves called jhallar at the outer, edge of border is a characteristic of these sarees. Other features are gold work, compact weaving, figures with small details, metallic visual effects, pallus, jal (a net like pattern), and mina work. The exquisite latifa (beautiful) buti was the outcome of the fusion of Persian and Indian designs. Brocades produced at the royal workshops of other well-known Muslim centers in Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Persia was also exported to India.

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Depending on the intricacy of its designs and patterns, a saree can take from 15 days to a month and sometimes up to six months to complete. The traditional Banarasi saree is done with lot of hard work and skillful work using the silk. The saree making is a cottage industry for about 1.2 million people associated directly or indirectly with the hand loom silk industry of the region around Varanasi encompassing Gorakhpur, Chandauli, Bhadohi, Jaunpur and Azamgarh districts.

As per the GI certificate, Banarasi products fall under four classes (23–26), namely silk brocades, textile goods, silk saree, dress material and silk embroidery. GI is an intellectual property right, which identifies a good as originating in a certain region where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

There are four main varieties of Banarasi saree, which includes pure silk (Katan), Organza (Kora) with Zari and silk; Georgette, and Shattir, and according to design process, they are divided into categories like, Jangla, Tanchoi, Vaskat, Cutwork, Tissue and Butidar.

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Since a large number of silk dyeing units in the trade use chemical dyes, which cause pollution in the Ganges River, a move is on to shift to natural dyes. Vegetable dyes like Kusum (Safflower, Carthamus tinctorium) are used for yellow, red, puce, light buff and orange, Kamila (Mallotus Philipinensis) and akalbar (Datiscus cannabina) are used with indigo to fix yellow. Kattha (Catechu) served for black along with indigo. Indigo mixed with a yellow dye is used for dark green, light green, grass green, light yellow wish green, haldi (turmeric), to produce various shades in yellow. Indigo mixed with a reel and a yellow dye is used for hetiotrope (Kasni). Khaki (grey) is produced from harra (myro balans and kasis – green vitriol or sulphate of iron). Lac is used in various shades of real.