Bandhani (Hindi: बांधणी, Gujarati: બાંધણી) is a type of tie-dye textile decorated by plucking the cloth with the fingernails into many tiny bindings that form a figurative design. The term bandhani is derived from the Sanskrit verbal root bandh (“to bind, to tie”). Today, most Bandhani making centers are situated in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sindh, Punjab region and in Tamil Nadu where it is known as Sungudi. Earliest evidence of Bandhani dates back to Indus Valley Civilization where 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 1 at Ajanta. Bandhani is also known as Bandhej Saree, Bandhni, Piliya, and Chungidi in Tamil and regional dialects. Other tying techniques include Mothra, Ekdali and Shikari depending on the manner in which the cloth is tied. The final products are known with various names including Khombi, Ghar Chola, Patori and Chandrokhani
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 colour used in Bandhana are yellow, red, blue, green and black.
The main colours used in Bandhana 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’ and other categories.
Bandhani work is also done in Rajasthan, where different colours and designs are used than the Kutch and Saurashtra regions of Gujarat. Establishments of varying sizes in the entire Kutch belt in Gujarat produce many varieties of Bandhani. This Bandhani style is called as the Kutchi Bandhani.
Bandhani tying is often a family trade, and the women of these families work at home to tie patterns. Pethapur, Mandavi, Bhuj, Anjar, Jetpur, Jamnagar, Rajkot, are some of the main towns in Gujarat, where Bandhani is created. The city of Bhuj in Gujarat is well known for its red Bandhani. Dyeing process of Bandhani is carried out extensively in this city, as the water of this area is known to give a particular brightness to colours, specifically reds and maroons.
As with other Indian textiles, in Bandhani too different colours convey different meanings. People believe that red is an auspicious colour for brides.
Earliest evidence of Bandhani dates back to Indus Valley Civilization suggest 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. The dyers have experimented with the use of different elements both natural and man-made for ages. Also, there are experiments with different binding/tying techniques to create patterns on cloth immersed in containers of dye. Different types of tie and dyes have been practiced in India.
Bandhej saree which is also known as “Bandhani saree” is specially found in Gujarat and Rajasthan. As per the region of manufacturing the patterns of Bandhej saree may vary. Fine varieties of Bandhej are created in Pethapur, Mandvi, Bhuj, Anjar, Jamnagar, Jetpur, Porbandar, Rajkot, Udaipur, Jaipur, Ajmer, Bikaner, Churu etc.
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.
Bandhani is a method of binding small knots and dyeing them in different colours to produce beautiful patterns. This tying was normally done with fingernails for making. But in some places of Rajasthan, craftsmen wear a metal ring with a pointy nail to help plucking the cloth easily.
The process of making a bandhani textile is not very tough, but is very time-consuming. The fabric used for making Bandhani sarees and dupattas are loosely woven silk called Georgette, or cotton known as Malmal. The knots are tightly tied, and the rest of the fabric is dyed in multiple stages. This leaves the knots undyed and hence a beautiful flower-like pattern appears all over the cloth as a design.