Pipli applique artisans are known to produce the most exquisite motifs in Indian textile applique. Motifs in Pipli applique are made up of smaller pieces of fabric, or small ornaments, that are of a variety of different colours and textures. Sometimes, these motifs are made up of patchwork, which explains why the two textile arts are sometimes confused.
Embroidery work or mirror work may also feature alongside Pipli applique, which adds to the intricacy of its designs. Traditional motifs and colours that have been used for centuries still feature extravagantly in Pipli applique of today. Popular Pipli applique motifs include,
Striking contrasting colours of Pipli applique featuring geometric motifs and mirrors
Abstract Astral Shapes
Star-shaped motifs alongside mirror work and decorative embroidery in Pipli applique
These are primarily stylised jasmines (malli or mogra), sunflowers (suryamukhi) and lotuses (padma), all sacred flowers in the Hindu religion.
On large Pipli appliqued items, floral motifs usually feature as the centre piece
Stylised birds and animals, most commonly peacocks (mayur) and elephants (hat). Exquisite designs may even feature motifs of mythical birds, such as the double-headed peacock (gandamayur or bhairaba)
Stylised peacock, or mayur, on Pipli applique
Celestial Bodies and Mythical Creatures
These usually include the sun (surya), moon (chandra) and Rahu, the demon who is said to devour the sun and moon, the result of which is an eclipse or a lunar eclipse
Pipli applique with elaborate motifs of the sun, moon and flowers
Sometimes, abstract motifs take on a schematic form to represent society, nature or deities.
Pipli applique depicting deities interacting with people, displayed alongside Pipli appliqued wall hangings to the left
Traditional colours in Pipli applique still feature in contemporary creations, are not only striking, but also hold symbolic significance:
a) Red, an auspicious colour in the Hindu religion and a sign of prosperity
b) Yellow, a colour that represents spirituality and enlightenment
c) Green, a colour that signifies hope and new beginnings
d) Black, used not only to outline designs and create striking contrasts, but also to ward off evil
e) White, which signifies peace and purity
f) The base fabric, onto which smaller fabric motifs and embellishments are stitched, to form awe-inspiring designs, is usually one of four colours
Today, contemporary Pipli applique items also incorporate the use of other vibrant hues including blue and non-customary shades of traditional colours. The artisans make use of various forms of stitching to make up the enchanting colourful collages of Pipli applique. Though combinations of these motifs and colours have been quite varied for centuries, their symbolic representations of traditional themes live on today.
L: A new shade of green is experimented with in contemporary Pipli applique
R: Contemporary motifs are featured in Pipli applique for the international market
Images: D'Source, Trek Earth, Visit Pipili, e Samskriti, Incredible Odisha