Textile tour of India A, B, C

Textile tour of India A, B, C

India is a land of diversity, known for multiple religions, languages, cultural heritage, geographic landscapes and climatic variations. Each of its 28 states and 8 union territories have their own different handloom techniques and textile traditions. And hence as a country, India offers more than 30 unique textile crafts. @theindianheritagehut in collaboration with TalesonSilk is taking you on a  textile Tour Of India, starting with A, B & C. 

A for Ajrakh

Ajrakh is perhaps one of the earliest block printed textiles in the world. Historical records trace its origin to Harappan civilization around 4000 years back. 

The name Ajrakh could be derived from Arabic word “Azrak” meaning blue which is one of the primary colours used in the technique. However, according to another legend, a king in Sindh was so fond of his rich block printed bedspread that he once advised his housekeeping team “Aaj rakh” meaning “let it stay for a day” and thus originated Ajrakh. 

Ajrakh printing is a long, complex and arduous process involving as many as 16 steps. The fabric is first printed with a resist paste and then it is dyed. This process is repeated several times with different kinds of dyes with the aim of achieving the final design in the deep blue and red shade. The ingredients for Ajrakh are all derived from nature, be it herbs and vegetable essence or natural minerals. Some of the common ingredients are wild indigo, pomegranate bark and seeds, and harde

Ajrakh is practised in Ajrakhpur and Kutch in Gujarat and Barmer in Rajasthan. 

 Antique block for Ajrakh

Antique Ajrakh printing block

Image credit: 

Ajrakh fabric

Indigo Ajrakh fabric

Image credit: Cotton Weavers Etsy

B for Bandhani

Bandhej or Bandhani is the oldest form of tie and dye art which began around 5000 years ago. Historical records suggest the first Bandhani saree was worn at the time of Bana Bhatt`s Harshacharita in a royal marriage. One of it’s earliest visual representations can be seen in the Ajanta caves. It is mainly practised in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and parts of Uttar Pradesh. 

The word Bandhani comes from a Sanskrit word “Banda” which means “to tie”. The fabric to be dyed is tied very tightly at different points in knots and then dyed with extraordinary colors. When this tied cloth goes for dyeing, these threads or knots don't let that part catch color & allows it to stay white or whatever color the cloth has. Once the cloth is dyed, it is left for drying in open air.  The designs include Ekdali (single knot), Trikunti (three knots), Chaubandi (four knots), Dungar Shahi (mountain pattern), Boond (small dot with a dark center), Kodi (teardrop shaped) and Laddu Jalebi (Indian sweets). Different colors transmit different meanings in Bandhani.


 Pink Bandhani


C for chanderi

Chanderi’s origins can be traced back to 7th Century B.C. when it was woven with hand spun cotton for producing turbans for Maratha rulers. It was one of the preferred fabrics of the Indian royalty. Few historical records suggest that it was first founded by Lord Krishna’s Cousin, Shishupal in the Vedic era.

Coming from a small town of Chanderi , Madhya Pradesh, Chanderi fabric has derived its name from this town itself.

Known for its glossy transparency, sheer texture and gold zari border, the uniqueness of Chanderi fabric lies in its beautiful motifs embellished on the fabric. Traditionally, the motifs were inspired mostly by flora, coins, fruits, peacocks, heavenly bodies. These motifs are primarily hand woven on Chanderi fabric with hand-loom by the use of needles. Each motif has its own story to tell and that's why chanderi is favourite among fashion designers too. 

 Chanderi fabric

Chanderi fabric

Image credit: Tanvika couture Etsy

Watch this space for the next part of our tour

Follow @theindianheritagehut on instagram for beautiful posts on arts of India. 

Info source:, utsavpedia & fabriclore

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