Cotton Bales India, Shankar 6 Cotton Bales

Cotton for Creativity

Crafts in cotton

Some of the finest and most fine-looking cottons are produced in South Asia.

  • The art of spinning,  weaving, dyeing and printing techniques have strong regional traditions to produce stunning fabrics from wedding saris to wall hangings.
  • Cotton textiles vary in gracefulness from sheer muslins, sometimes called baft-hana or woven air, to thick durries and even stiff cotton rag paper, used as bed and floor coverings.
  • In Karnataka, village of Navalgund, it is said, that girls are barred from learning the secret techniques, as they might spread it outside the family when they marry.
  • Some of the finest cloths on earth are ‘muslins’ from Dhaka, Bangladesh, can be pass through the centre of a ring.
  • A fish bone was traditionally used to prepare these gossamer fibres.
  • ‘Jamdani’, West Bengal muslin with floral designs embroidered or woven into the cloth using extra weft threads.
  • Mirror work is a classic and familiar South Asian appliqué technique to make eye-catching, geometrically-patterned fabrics to often enhance with embroidery and pleating. Used traditionally in Orissa, during religious festivals as canopies, banners and covers for dummy horses, they now also have world-wide appeal as cushions covers for home furnishing. 
  • Embroidery is ages old important technique in South Asia, usually done by women, who embroider clothes for their personal use or members of their family. Designs are often connected with culture and religion.
  • Gujaratis produce some of the finest embroidered camel decorations in South Asia.
  • Cotton saris are perhaps archetypical of South Asia and most used in crafts from textile product. Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh is known for fine cotton saris with a silk warp and cotton weft. Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh is fine cotton saris with tiny checks of soft colors. Saris of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are dark, spicy and earthy coloured characteristically. Andhra Pradesh saris are with of thick cotton with checks and contrasting silk borders with gold.
Dyeing Practices in Cotton
  • Block printing and pattern dyeing are the two traditional dyeing and colouring practices.
  • Some use part-dyed threads to create patterns.
  • Skilled dyers use a combination of techniques on one piece of fabric.
  • Block printing: Chunks of wood are carved to leave a raised design which is then dipped into dye and pressed onto fabric.
  • Pattern dyeing: Resist and mordant dyeing are both types of pattern dyeing. Batik is a resist technique using molten wax to block areas of fabric from dyeing. Especially used for creating circular patterns as known in Sanskrit name ‘Bandhani’ or to create spotted garchola sari used in Gujarati Hindus and Jains wedding.
  • Pen work: Ink is painted onto fabrics with between layers of mordants and resists. These exquisite fabrics have floral or religious designs used for saris, table cloths and bed coverings.
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