Vibrant reds, bright yellows, luscious greens and royal blues. These are the colors that fill the tables of the artisans of Gujarat, India. Imagine spending hours working with your hands to create large, intricate embroidered tapestries. Little bits of glitter are added to each pieces through the use of small mirrors. Can you picture it? Well, all of these aspects put together creates banni embroidery.
Image Credit: Archeological Digest
Gujarat is a state known for rich culture, food and dance. Being a state that is big on celebrations and Garba dance, it is no surprise that they also creative when it comes to their artisans. Originating from the Lohana community of the Kutch District, banni embroidery has a long standing tradition in the state of Gujarat. The creation of this type of embroidery started in the early centuries and was passed down family to family as a tradition that is still held today.
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The process of creating this type of embroidery starts with a piece of paper and a pen. Artisians first sketch the design of their pattern in order to create the perfect garment. After they have free-handed the design, they transfer the pattern to cloth using a stencil. From there they are able to use silk floss called heer to embroider these detailed and intricate designs, that boast everything from nature to unique patterns, which the designer creates themselves.
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Most banni pieces include some type of nature motif, due to the importance that nature has in the Indian culture. These designs tend to include images of animals such as, peacocks, scorpions, elephants and flowers. When the designer creates each one of these styles, it entails a completely different type of technique to reach the desired look. For creating creatures like peacocks and other birds, the designer must use stitching to blend colors. For florals, designers have to use a repetitive circle technique to create the right flora look. Each one of these types of patterns and designs are carefully thought out and created, using specific type of tools and techniques.
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Most commonly, banni embroidery is now seen in the making of bags, wall tapestries or Chaklas, and clothing. Because of it’s bright, contrast colors and the sparkling effect of the mirror work, younger women are showing off this type of embroidery in a mix of east meets west looks. This type of embroidery has also gained fame in the art scenes world wide due to its distinct and dazzling look. Most importantly, this type of embroidery has become an essential part of a Gujarat bride’s garments for their wedding. The bride takes along garments that are created with banni embroidery to show her love and loyalty of tradition. How charming!
Finding style inspiration is never easy, but luckily, places all over the world, especially India are just bursting at the seams with traditional techniques that can change your entire wardrobe, and Gujarat is at the top of the list.
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