Known for its spectacularly colourful clothing, Rajasthan is home to a variety of different dyeing techniques, all of which have been passed down through generations. The impressive skill with which Rajasthani textile workers carry out their craft is such that their designs are not just popular in India; they are also prized by fashion lovers all over the world.
Tie dye: Bandhej (or tie dye, as it is known in the Western world) is the art of tying cotton or silk with thread prior to dyeing, in order to create defined patterns. Traditionally, natural dyes were extracted from plants and minerals, but today synthetic dyes are used to create a longer-lasting, more practical design.
Block printing: Another traditional dyeing technique, block printing makes use of carved wooden blocks to apply colourful patterns to fabric. The most popular design is the paisley, and vegetable dyes tend to be used for their bright, cheerful colours. Occasionally, gold is used in the prints for a more luxurious, exciting finish.
Mirror work and embroidery: The women of Rajasthan are adept at using embroidery to decorate sarees, veils and lehengas. However, it is not just the colourful threads which make Rajasthani fashion stand out; designs from the region often also incorporate small, geometric pieces of mirror, stitched in amongst the motifs.
Accessories make an outfit complete, and no one knows this better than the women of Rajasthan. Famous for their elaborate jewellery, Rajasthani women use gems and precious metals to express their class, economic background and marital status. Gold and silver are beaten into shape by skilled metal workers, and stone cutters use simple yet effective tools to shape gems. One of the most popular pieces of jewellery in the region is the navratna - a collection of nine different colourful jewels set in a single pendant.
Rajasthan is also known for its impressive leatherwork, which is often embroidered and used to make shoes and bags. These items are often exported, and have proved extremely popular in the Western market.