Bandhani or Indian Tie & Dye Technique: How it all started?

The word ‘Bandhani’ traces back its origin from the word ‘Bandhan’ meaning tying up. Bandhani is an old practice of art that prevails in the Indian State of Rajasthan and Gujarat and it started around 5000 years ago. Cities like Jaipur, Bhilwara, Udaipur, Ajmer and Sikar of Rajasthan and Jamnagar of Gujarat are renowned centers that produce Sarees, Odhnis and Turbans in bandhani style.

According to some of the historical texts, at the time of Bana Bhatt’s Harshcharitra in a royal wedding, the first bandhani saree was worn. It was also believed that saree made from bandhani art form could bring good fortune to the bride who wears it.

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Not only bandhani sarees but bandhani turbans too have a significant position in the art world. The men of various communities in Rajasthan and Gujarat have been following from ages the tradition of ornamenting their head with different patterns of bandhani turbans. The different patterns distinguish a man of one community from that of another. Earlier, dyes used in bandhani art were extracted from flowers, leaves, berries and roots.

What are the steps involved in Bandhani Art Style?

Bandhani art is a highly skilled process, requires expert hands and involves all in all 5 steps:

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  • A particular area of the fabric is dyed and the same is then outlined using fugitive colors. A thin transparent sheet of plastic is placed, which has pin holes over the dyed area of the fabric and with fugitive color, a desired pattern is imprinted on the fabric.
  • Secondly, expert hands of an artisan pull on the part of the fabric where there is an imprint of the hole and wrap tightly with a nylon thread the protruding cloth to form knots or bhindi.
  • After the knots have been tied, the fabric is meticulously washed to get rid of the imprint. It is then dipped in naphthol (a crystalline solid derived from naphthalene) for few minutes and dyed in either yellow or some other light color for two or three minutes.
  • The fabric is then rinsed, squeezed and dried before tying it again and soaking in a dark color for 3 to 4 hours. During the soaking in the dark color, the small area below the thread resists the dye, thereby, leaving an undyed dot. The entire process is usually executed in several stages, which starts from a light color and gradually moving to a darker one.
  • After the last dyeing, the fabric is washed and sometimes starched. On drying, the cloth’s folds are pulled apart, thus, releasing the knots and revealing an elegant pattern. The result i.e. Bandhani Art is an intense colored cloth with dots of numerous colors creating a pattern.

The patterns are called Ekdali, Shikari, Mothra and Leheriya depending on the manner the fabric is tied. The final products are renowned by various names such as Chola, Patori, Khombi, Chandrokhani, etc.

Some of the common designs are:

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  • Boond – A Small Dot with Dark Center,
  • Laddu Jalebi (Indian Sweets) – Swirlings,
  • Dungar Shahi – Mountain Pattern,
  • Kodi – Tear or Drop Pattern,
  • Tikunthi – Circles and Squares Pattern in a group of three, etc.

Most used colors in Bandhani

Yellow, Red, Green and Pink are the colors that mostly dominate bandhani art form. Maroon is another color that is an all-time favorite of artisans involved in the art.

Different colors have different meaning and the same holds true even in bandhani. For women, red represents a bride or recently married girl, a yellow colored background says that a lady has become a mother recently. Also, the colors, as well as the patterns on the fabric, indicate the community the women belongs.

IICD: Imparting Hands-On Experience on Bandhej

Identifying the characteristics and techniques of bandhej, practised in the Shekhawati region, a project was undertaken by IICD.


Image Courtesy: IICD

The project focused on amalgamating design with traditional crafts.


Image Courtesy: IICD


The outcome was a very unique collection of bags, scarfs and stoles.

Image Courtesy: IICD

Image Courtesy: IICD