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Indian Arts and Crafts

Updated on January 26, 2013

Indian Cloths

Both Block printing and Bandhani are different ways of coloring cloth. They are bright and interesting. Check out this lens to learn more about these decorative methods. You can even leave us some feedback about what you think.


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Here are some of the different ways that Indian cloths are decorated

  • Block Printing- has traces of print on the cloth
  • Bandhani- like tiedye it is colorful and splotchy

Block Printing

Tracing of Prints on Cloth

Especially fascinating for foreigners is the printing of cloth with carved wooden blocks. Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Jodhpur and Bikaner in Rajasthan are the strongholds of this craft. The floral motifs favored by the printers of Bagru and Sanganer (Around Jaipur) are Persian in origin, though Sanganeri designs are more sophisticated. They usually have a white or pale background decorated with colorful twigs or sprays. The not-so-fine Bagru prints were initially meant for peasants and had a light brown background.

Block Printing

Method of Printing

Rajasthan has a long and distinguished tradition of printing with finely carved wooden blocks. What you might have already seen in Delhi’s Rajasthali or Fabindia is merely the tip of the iceberg. Head for Bagru and Sanganer, not far from Jaipur, to see for yourself how cloth is printed by hand.

This method, though labourious, is actually quite simple and merely calls for precision. The cloth is laid out flat on a table or bench and a freshly dipped block is hand pressed on to the fabric to form a continuous, interlocking pattern. The block carries dye if the original colour of the cloth has to be preserved.

If the cloth has to be dyed, the block is used to apply an impermeable resist – a material such as clay, resin or wax – to demarcate the pattern that is not to be coloured. Later, when the cloth is dyed, the pattern emerges in reverse. Traditonally, block-printing relied on the use of natural dyes and pigments, but now synthetic dyes have gained currency as they are cheaper. If you belong to the green brigade, stick to eco-friendly naturally dyed cloth.

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Tie and Dye Technique

As the name suggests, the technique of Tie and Dye involves two stages: tying sections of a length of cloth (silk or cotton) and then dunking it into vats of colour. The rainbow-tinged turbans of the Rajputs and the odhnis of their women are shaded by this method of resist dyeing. Your visit to Jaipur won't be complete without a trip to the nearby towns of Bagru and Sanganer, where you can observe the Chhipa community of dyers at work.


The Laheriya or Ripple Effect On Fabric

The laheriya or the ripple effect is achieved by a variation of this technique. Lengths of permeable muslin are rolled diagonally from one corner to the opposite, bound tightly at intervals and then dyed. The ties are then undone and the process repeated by diagonally rolling the adjacent corner toward the opposite and repeating the process. Both Jaipur and Jodhpur are major centres of laheriya. Jaipur in particular, thanks to its status as the state capital, has girt its loins to meet the extensive demands of both the domestic and export markets.

Tie and dye cloth is never too expensive but be warned that the colours always run. So if you've bought silk, it's safer to get it dry-cleaned.

Tie-dye Party Kit Simply Spray Fabric Paint - Perfect for Kid's Outdoor Summer Parties
Tie-dye Party Kit Simply Spray Fabric Paint - Perfect for Kid's Outdoor Summer Parties

Each Kit makes about 24 shirts

Stays Soft and pliable

Dries in just 30 minutes

Permanent after 72 hours

No need to heat set it

Washes off your hands easily with soap and water

Simply Spray is a permanent aerosol fabric paint, not a dye. It is non-toxic, non-flammable and completely safe.

The colors blend nicely. You can create tie-dye effects instantly without the mess! All you have to do is pop the blue safety tab, apply even pressure to the trigger and simply spray!

Great for use on furniture, material, clothing, carpets, car interiors, wood, silk, leather and more.


Incredible, Absolutely Spectacular, Glittering fine & luxurious Blue and Green Georgette Designer Bandhani Bandini (Tie and Dye) Bollywood "Ready to Wear" Party Sari / Saree from the "LiVi" collection with extensive embroidery work and silver sequin work motifs and patterns, from India SKU# NS3174 Explore the femininity and essence of a woman through an exclusive new trendy "LiVi" collection of contemporary, designer "ready to wear" sarees. Add spice and color to your lifestyle by indulging in Bollywood Indian attire. Be a trendsetter and a scene stealer with this collection of rich silks, lavish embellishments, paisley designs and festive colors - perfect for casual, formal and party wear. Expand your wardrobe with these chic, sophisticated bonanza of colors at competitive prices. These fashionable sarees from India are hot sheer elegance for evening wear or even prom wear.


Bandhani skirts in vibrant colors from India are a craze this season!

You're looking at a lovely long skirt which would surely turn a lot of heads. The skirt is in striking Red and Blue and is elegantly embellished with hand sewn silver discs all over. Lovely petite floral & geometrical motifs in Tie and Dye (Bandhani) adorn every inch of the skirt.

This gorgeous skirt is full flowing and has a huge bottom span of 140"!

The highlight of this skirt is a 1.5" kundan beaded , embroidery & sequin work belt with dangling tassles that adorn the waist.

This is an exceptional piece of workmanship & skill. Radiate a spectacularly ethnic look and add style to your wardrobe. You'll have to just stare at this dramatic conversational ethnic piece of art for hours to believe the unbelievable!

A classic example of worksmanship & skill, this set is a true treasure. Not seen in stores across the U.S, this ethnic treasure is sure to bring plenty of compliments!


The uses for bandhani or block printing material

  1. Use as a cloth for clothing. Many indian ladies wear bandhani or block printed saris.
  2. Great for decoration to hang on walls, or cover beds.
  3. Make beautiful curtains out of them
  4. Wear these beautiful cloths outside like a shawl, or a scarf. See how many compliments you get.


The significance of colors

The main colours used in Bandhani are yellow, green, red and black. It is essentially a household craft supervised by the head of the family. The fabric is skillfully knotted by the women, while the portfolio of dyeing rests with the men. The women often grow a long nail on the little finger of the left hand, or wear a ring with a little blunt spike on it, with which they push the cloth upwards to form a tiny peak.

The Jaipur dyer rarely works with more than two dye baths while the additional colours are spot dyed, which makes the process much easier. Thereafter, the fabric opens out into amazing designs in kaleidoscopic colours: dots, circles, squares, waves and stripes.

Which is the best type of cloth decoration?

See results

Tiedye looks good no matter what it is called.

Tiedye is another way to color cloth

Tiedye is another way to color cloth
Tiedye is another way to color cloth

If you liked this lens, keep checking back, because I'm planning on putting out another one about more indian cloths. Please visit again.

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    • profile image

      ethnicpark 3 years ago

      All colors are lovely..

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      The colors are also so beautiful to look at!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      The colors are also so beautiful to look at!

    • profile image

      babybuttsrock 8 years ago

      I love all the different colors of India. They are so creatively used. I'm so glad that I now have some.

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 9 years ago

      I actually collect Indian textiles. Most of the curtains in my house I've made from old sari's that I've picked up on eBay. My oldest daughter's room is decorated entirely in an Indian Hindu motiff. We've found some excellent vintage and antique embroidery pieces for her walls and made a peacock canopy with saris. Great lens - rolling this to my Khussa lens. 5*

    • BFunivcom profile image

      Allan R. Wallace 9 years ago from Wherever Human Rights Reign

      I couldn't decide which to vote for, bandhani or block printing, but I did enjoy learning about them. When I was in high school I replaced the headliner of my car with what was probably bandhani - it was cool.