The nature of tie and dye allows for the abstract freedom of artistic expression, therefore patterns and colours are limitless. Patterns found in tie and dye are primarily waves, stripes, circles and dots. These patterns are typically combined in a single fabric to create multifaceted designs. The four conventional patterns which remain prominent are described below:
Leheriya, whose name is derived from the Rajasthani word for 'wave,' is a traditional pattern of tie and dye that is indigenous to Rajasthan. As the name suggests, it is distinct due to its complex wave patterns.
The leheriya method of tie and dye creates mesmerising wave-like patterns
Mothra can be best described as a double-dyed leheriya and also consists of a complex wave pattern. The method first involves tying the fabric before dyeing it using the leheriya method. The second step involves undoing thread ties and retying the fabric along the initial dyed pattern. This results in diagonally opposite wave patterns which resemble a chequered pattern.
The mothra method of tie and dye makes use of the leheriya method to create chequered wave-like patterns
Ekdali is a pattern comprised of small circles and squares of different colours and shades. Clusters of multi-coloured dots add exquisite detail to this intricate pattern, mostly seen in Sikar and Jodphur, Rajasthan.
The ekdali method of tie and dye creates entrancing circular patterns with bursts of colours
Shikari patterns are mostly used in the creation of elegant sarees. The fabric is tied using thread in a way that results in the dye depicting figures such as animals, ranging from elephants to man.
The shikari method of tie and dye depicting elephants
Early dyes used in products of tie and dye were natural extracts from animals and plants. Shellac, a secretion of the female lac insect, was used for red dyes. Turmeric was used for yellow dyes, the inner skin of pomegranates called rinds for green, the true indigo plant for indigo and iron shavings and vinegar for black. Access to these natural dyes made them pertinent to tie and dye, however, expert craftsmen created these colours in a variety of shades. These days, the colours in tie and dye are endless, encapsulating the vibrancy of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Images: Handmade in India, Dastkar Ranthambhore, Saree Pe Vaaree