Jodhpur, a bright and colourful city in Rajasthan is home to magnificent ancient forts with thousands of years of history tucked away. In addition, you can find tiny, narrow lanes of ‘Khanda-Falsa’, that hold all the secrets about the stunning craft ‘Bandhej’.
‘Bandhej’ was very significant to the family from Rajasthan (as well as Gujarat too!), in fact it is something like the ‘tartan‘ of Scotland, where the style and colours identified each clan. Similarly, you could identify a person’s tribe or community from the patterns and colours of the ‘Bandhej’ worn; be it either as a dupatta, saree or a turban. The colour of the dyes could perhaps signify whether it was worn by a bride or a new mother. Red would typically be worn by a bride whereas in those days (and even sometimes today) yellow would have generally been worn by a mother.
Techniques using for creating ‘Bandhej’ were primarily responsible for turning India into a leading textile manufacturer in the 18th century. Please do note that this technique of dyeing fabric isn’t new to India. If you are to believe the historical information, it dates back to almost 5000 years . As per the historical evidence, apparently the first ‘Bandhej’ saree was worn at the time of Bana Bhatt’s Harshacharita in a royal marriage. I am told that evidence of this gorgeous art form is even seen on the Ajanta caves!
The colonial cloth trade run by the East India Company was a very important part of the textile history and even today these traditional fabrics are being used in modern styles by leading designers and artisans.
Fancy reading in brief about the process of creating this ‘Bandhej’? Simply, the cloth to be dyed is tied very tightly in knots and then dyed with extraordinary colours,thus producing a variety of patterns like Leheriya, Mothra, Ekdali and Shikari depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied. These knots ensure that the knotted part of the fabric does not get any of the dye colour. Once this is complete, it is then let to dry n open air and depending on the weather can take up to 2 days to dry and voila! your ‘Bandhej’ is ready :-). Some of the most common designs are dungar-shahi or the mountain-pattern, boond that results in a small dot with a dark centre, tear shaped kodi, and the laddu-jalebi or the swirling. In Tikunthi, circles and squares appear in a group of three, in ‘Chaubasi’ in groups of four and in Satbandi in groups of seven. (Boond is a dot with a dark centre and ekdali just a dot). I have picked up some of my favourite pieces for you to browse through and enjoy. Here we go:
Fallen in love with this beautiful style of fabric yet again? I hope this post has inspired you to get more creative with that favourite ‘bandhej’ fabric of yours…Next time, when you go shopping in Jodhpur, spare us a thought and click some pictures of your most special steals. There is so much varieties in styles and designs, not to forget the colours! We want to see them all…
Stay blissful and keep exploring the markets until you find that special piece…
Cover Image: via