Anjali Kumar


30 Mar
Tie Dye : Shibori to Bandhej

The iconic resist-dying technique can be spotted on fabrics from all over the world. This technique of tying and dying to produce unique patterns is often associated with the hippie image of the 1960s. 

The western world holds it dear as a symbol of rebellion and psychedelia. It has been at the core of several cultural and fashion movements – the rock and roll age, the grunge and the new wave. 

The technique though, was relevant much before the roaring 20th century. It been extensively practiced in countries like India and Japan for centuries. The “bandhani” of India and “Shibori” of Japan; both began centuries ago and held a unique identity in the evolving fashion of their cultures. 

Bandhani or bhandej comes from the Sanskrit word “banda” which means “to tie”. It is a traditional dying method indigenous to the states of Gujrat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The artform is adorned by both men and women. It is also an indicator of identity in many communities. 

The indication is often aided with the choice of colour. Red symbolises marriage and yellows marks the start of spring. Festive occasions are incomplete without the finer works of bandhej. The technique is almost parallel to the “Shibori” technique of Japan. 

The fabric is tied very tightly at certain points and is then dyed. The tied part retains its original colour and hence, the final output is a spread of charismatic patterns and whirls. The result too, is quite similar to that of Shibori. 

Shibori is derived from the Japanese word shiboru which mean “to squeeze”. The fabric is subjected to folding, crumpling, stitching, plaiting, clamping, or twisting and is manipulated to “resist-dye”. In a market which is stocked up with various tie dye fabrics, it is easy to spot a traditional Shibori; bright and indigo. 

Both countries have developed several methods to carry out the tie and dye process. Each technique results in a unique pattern. The Kanoka Shibori is quite similar to the bindi bhandhej. Other iconic Japanese techniques are Miura, Nui, Kumo, Arashi and Itajime. Mothara, Lahariya, and the dotted bandhani are unique to India. 

Both cultures also have similarities in terms of textiles. Even though Shibori and Bandhani are deeply rooted in their cultures, the resemblance of their results provided an opportunity for global fusion. Cross culture influences began in the 1960s, Indian artisans picked up the elegance of the Shibori patterns and combined them with their traditional colours.

Kusum Tiwari, the co-founder of Mura Collective; a label which experiments with textile variations has bridged the gap furthermore. The organization has come to be known as a Shibori specialist. They render the iconic Shibori indigo into saris, kurtas, tunics and palazzos for the Indian market and make sure, that the Indian identity of the fabric is not lost. They are expanding into the global sphere of fashion; progressive cross-cultural influences like these help the world to observe the unique fashion consciousness of various regions.