The Forgotten art of Indian dyeing

This weeks blog post aims to enlighten the reader on the 5 most popular Indian dyeing styles. It is possible that you may not have heard of some, or possibly any of them. This is because Indian dyeing styles and patterns are losing popularity. As their cultural importance erodes, we may find that these techniques are lost to obscurity. Realising the significant loss that this is, we at Plair aim to create awareness and use these as inspiration for our future pieces.


1) Kalamkari

Arguably the most famous of the designs, Kalamkari is a designing pattern that originates from Iran, but has since found a home in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The process is fabled for using only natural dyes, but what truly sets it apart is the fact that it requires twenty-three steps for a handmade Kalamkari dye to be applied. In the modern era, designs are made digitally and printed using machines, rather than being hand applied. 

2) Bagh

Bagh is a traditional Indian dyeing process that originates from the Bagh, Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh. The designs are applied onto the cloth, by hand painted wooden blocks. The designs can vary ranging from floral compositions, to geometric or paisley. The colours generally are earthy shades with varying shades of blacks and reds. It is presumed that Bagh dyeing originated over 1000 years ago, as the exact origin is unknown. 

3) Bandhani

Considered to be one of the oldest methods of tie-dyeing. The earliest evidence of Bandhani is from the Indus Valley Civilization, from 4000 B.C.  Today Bandhani is practiced across many states of India, such as Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab. What makes Bandhani unique is that the cloth is decorated by plucking it with fingernails to produce patterns and designs. It is a highly skilled craft and requires a lot of time to produce high quality clothes. Bandhani employs the use of vibrant colours such as yellow, red, blue, green, and black for contrast.

4) Leheriya

Also called leheria, it is a form of dyeing that is unique to Rajasthan and it gets its name from the Rajasthani word for wave because this technique is used to make wave like patterns. The eye-catching shade of blue produced by Indigo is the most dominantly used colour. It is no wonder therefore that Leheriya is often used to produce vibrant wave like patterns with vibrant colours. Historically, Leheriya was used primarily for Sarees, but in the current age, these designs can also be incorporated into other clothes such as T Shirts. 

5) Sanganeri

Originating approximately 500 years ago, Sanganeri designs are also block print motif designs based in Rajasthan, in the village of Sanganer. What sets Sanganeri apart is the use of delicate lines and patterns. As with other designs common to the state of Rajasthan, Sanganeri employs the use of bright colours. Sanganeri also found royal patronage in its past and was one of the  major exports for the East India Trading company.

We hope that you guys learnt something new and enjoyed this read, do stay tuned for next weeks article and till then checkout our current collection!

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