The tie and dye textile work of Rajasthan is one of its most colourful cultural products. It is as old as 5000 years and is one of the oldest traditions of the state still practiced. The art of tying and dying is believed to have developed in Jaipur as a form popularly known as 'lehariya'. The technique has travelled to Rajasthan with the Muslim Khatris from Sindh and even today, the Muslim Khatris are the largest community involved in the business of tie and dye.
Generally bright and contrasting colours are used for tie and dye. The discovery of dyes dates back to ancient times when it was noticed that colours could be extracted from different flowers, leaves and plants, creating natural colours. The fabrics created though tie and dye are quite colourful and come in irresistible colour combinations. Tourists visiting Rajasthan take these tie and dye fabrics as a souvenir of their visit.
As the name suggests, the art involves tying and dyeing of fabrics. The process is quite simple but time-consuming. The work is performed on different fabrics like silk, cotton, satin, georgette, chiffon, etc. Rajasthan is quite famous for the fine form and plentiful production of this famous technique.
There are various designs of tie and dye work. Lehariya and Bandhni are the basic and most common ones. The 'lehariya' tie and dye pattern shows waves or ripples, running diagonally on the fabric.
Usually lehariya is done using two colors. These colors occupy the alternate waves. Initially, red and yellow were the only two colors that were used for lehariya. However, now-a-days multicolored lehariya are also in trend. Lehariya materials are used to makes odhnis, turbans, dress materials, sarees etc.
Another popular design is 'bandhej' or 'bandhni'. This is the most preferred design of tie and dye. The pattern usually involves floral and geometric designs. The base of the fabric on which bandhni is performed usually comes in dark colors like any shade of blue, red, green, black and brown.
'Mothra' is another design of tie and dye work. Inspired by the lehariya design, mothra is a checked pattern, with opposite diagonal waves running across the cloth. Other patterns include 'Shikari bandhni' in which human and animal figures are printed in vibrant colors whereas 'Ekdali bandhni' include various geometric patterns like small square and circles, in different shades and clusters.
Jodhpur and Sikar are the best places in Rajasthan where traditional tie and dye work can be seen. Other places include Jaipur, Udaipur, Barmer and Pali but they are yet to achieve the same heights in tie and dye work.