India's textile tradition dates back to about 3000B.C and since then, almost every region has developed its own variety of cotton, wool and/or silk each with a distinct look and texture but each as beautiful as the other. Weaving is such an intrinsic part of the Indian culture that 'Khadi' - a home spun cloth was made a non-violent symbol of Indian struggle for independence. Every region has developed local textiles out of locally available raw materials. While the northern region is famous for its woolen weaves (including the unmatched 'Pashmina'), the other regions specialize in various styles of silk and/or cotton. India is also home to the non-violent silk where the cocoon is harvested only after it is abandoned by the silkworm.
The weaving industry would not have flourished without the help of the dyers who area masters at creating a myriad hues from animal, vegetable and mineral sources. The dyeing industry is forever experimenting with natural substances and the locally produced weaves to find processes to create the perfect looking textile.
Kala Tarang will have weaves and dyes from various parts of India in its exhibitions. Every weave will be a mix of locally woven cotton, silk and or wool. Among the dyeing crafts, 2 crafts that you will see are Bandhini and Ikat.
Bandhini is an ancient tie and dye process which originated in the Indian state Rajasthan. In its simplest form, Bandhini patterns are created by outlining the design on cloth with red chalk, (geru), then tying squares in many small or big knots with string which has been coated with resist paste, a substance that does not let the dye percolate through. Some of the knots tied are as small as pinpoints and require great skill to execute.
In Bandhini the process of preparing the cloth for the tying and dyeing is almost as painstaking as the process which creates patterns on the cloth. The cloth to be dyed is immersed in water mixed with equal parts of castor oil and saline earth (khara), dried and soaked again in the solution a total of ten to fifteen times. It is then washed in running water, dried, marked with the design in red chalk (geru) and sent to the dyer. The fabric to be dyed yellow is soaked in a solution of buttermilk and turmeric, the cloth to be coloured green is treated with a mixture of indigo and turmeric and for the colour red a mixture of all these are mixed with alum in water and the cloth soaked in it for three days
To print the design on the cloth, a wooden block with nails imprints the pattern when pressed on folded cloth. The raised portions are then tied with a thread coated with a resist paste and then the cloth is dyed, either by dipping the cloth in dye or daubing the colour on it with cloth. The pattern fully emerges when the knots are untied.
There are many forms of Bandhini practised today with variations to the basic processes describes above. The result is that Bandhini can be done on all kinds of fabric like cotton, wool, silk, georgette, chiffon, etc.
At the end of the time-consuming process, the knots are untied to reveal designs ranging from simple geometric shapes to women dancing, from peacocks to elephant processions.
Ikat varies from the other tie and dye processes in that instead of the fabric, here the threads are arranged in bundles and dyed before weaving. Designated spots in the individual bundles are made to resist the dyes by wrapping with various dye-resistant materials. These bundles may be dyed several times, with more wraps added at each stage, similar to the batik process. The bundles are then opened and hand-woven into the intended pattern. The results are a warp or weft that produces a veiled pattern.
The making of ikat is a technique of great antiquity and ikat designs appear like reflections in water, somewhat soft and blurred. This labour-intensive process produces beautiful patterns that not only give the wearer an appreciation of the beauty of hand-crafted designs, but actually represent a work of art.
Ikat is done on silk and medium to heavy weight, plain weave cotton. Today ikat designs can seen on clothes shirts, skirts, jackets, saris and sarongs as also home furnishings like bedcovers, table cloths etc.