Bandhani Prints and printing on fabrics

Learn about the art of Bandhani printing! This post explores this Indian traditional art of fabric tie dyeing and its stunning patterns, and the processes that make them.

In Hindi, the term ‘Bandhan’ means ‘tie’ and ‘Bandhna’ means ‘to tie’. It is a no-brainer that in textile dyeing, Bandhani (Hindi: बांधनी) is the art of tying and then dyeing. But there is something special about this type of tie-dyeing called bandhani. The patterns are small and several and can be specifically arranged to show up as designs as opposed to the random tie dyeing that is generally done. It is like the outline stitch in embroidery.

bandhani prints

How is Bandhani tie dyeing done?

Fabric is tie-dyed in two ways. The first option is to tie-dye the yarns before they are woven into the fabric. In bandhani printing, the second option is used – the tie-dye is done after the fabric is made.

And these small dot designs are made on the fabric by tying small parts of the fabric in several places at once in a specific pattern using thread. It is a kind of resist printing.

These small dots have to be uniform in size and shape, and therein lies the skill of the tie dyer. Imagine making thousands of similar-looking dots all by hand. Each of mine looks different.

tie and dye designs

You can either tie without anything inside or place small things like grain, stones etc inside before tying.

what you can keep inside the fabric before tie dyeing foe bandhani
Things you can keep inside the fabric before tying for bandhani dyeing.

The cloth is dyed after the whole tying is done.

tie the fabric after keeping the grain/stone inside.
Tie the fabric with thread tightly.

When the knots are opened after the dye is set and cloth is washed, it opens to a beautiful world of bandhani patterns.

Names of different types of bandhani

bandhani pattern on a red background

There are 2 basic kinds of dots in bandhani

  • One is a single dot without any dark center inside.
  • And the next is a single-dot design with a dark center.

Then there are 3 kinds of dots depending on the shape

  • Circular-shaped dots.
  • Oval-shaped like small shells (called Kauri dots).
  • Square-shaped dots.

To create a dot without the darker colored center, the design is marked on the fabric and then the fabric is pinched and tied thoroughly without leaving even a spot for the dye to seep through to the tip.

If you want a dot with the dark-colored center, the fabric should be tied just at the neck after pinching. This can also be done by keeping stones or grain inside. The resultant spots are called Bundi dots.

By tying these knots into different shapes and arranging them in the outline of various designs, the bandhani artisans make beautiful Bandhani saris, duppatas (scarves), and other items in cotton and silk. In Bandhani printing, tie-dyeing dots are made to create different types of patterns on the fabric. And all of them have different names.

When single dots are used in the pattern, it is called Ekdali.

When the boond dots are arranged in 4 numbers, it is called Chaubundi. (Char means 4 in Hindi). When the groups of dots are arranged in shapes of 4 it is called Chaubasi.

When the boond dots are arranged in 7 numbers, it is called Satbundi (Sath means 7 in Hindi). When the groups of dots are arranged in shapes of 7 it is called Satbandi.

Other than these basic shapes, the dots are also arranged in complex patterns that depict other designs like landscapes, fruits, vegetables, waves, etc. Dots arranged in Square shapes, as well as diamond shapes and circular shapes, are very common.

Mothra pattern has dots arranged in the shape of stripes or waves.

tie dye

Vibrant colors are used in bandhani prints. Tie dyeing is a resist technique in which the tied space retains the color of the base fabric. Bright red, yellow, blue, green and other earthy colors are used in bandhani printing.

If you are doing the printing, you can color the tied spaces a different color than the rest of the fabric to get two colors, or choose a colored fabric (light colored) as the base fabric for the dyeing.  

dyeing after the tying is done in bandhani

Relevance of Bandinit prints

India is a country where people embrace its cultural heritage however modern they advance. So, even though bandhani prints are said to be thousands of years old (reference of bandhani prints found in 600 AD texts), you can still find bandhani-printed scarves and shawls and saris and resplendent wedding trousseau.

Bandhani prints are native to the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India. The hand printing of bandhani requires special skill to do it at scale, so the workers who do it are valued. The dyeing is done with natural dyes like indigo.

textile printing done to imitate bandhni patterns.
Textile printing done to imitate bandhni patterns.

Today many textiles which are machine printed in this style are available today at low prices, though they lack the real charm of hand tie dyed bandhani printing. 

Reference: History of this tie-dye technique

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Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Bandhani Prints and printing on fabrics”

  1. I am really impressed by the details and the you make us understand how to do tie and die but you forgot to mention in the article where can we buy in UK fast fabric colours for fabric dyeing and painting.

  2. Oh WOW!! So beautiful! I just did a search for bandhani print fabric and I was blown away with the artistry. Thank you so much for this lovely and thorough introduction!

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