Bandhini or Bandhej Embroidery

Bandhini or Bandhej Embroidery

The word Bandhani or Bandhini or Bandhej (Hindi: बांधानी) comes from Sanskrit word Bandha or Bandhana. It means to tie or to bind. It uses to create beautiful circular patterns on the fabrics. This Bandhini or Bandhej embroidery is used frequently in the textile design industry. The textile is decorated by plucking the cloth with the fingernails into many tiny bindings. 


It is an ancient art. The earliest references are found from 4000 B.C. In the Buddhist era, we can trace this art. We can also find this art in the 6th century in the Ajanta cave. Even in the time of Alexander, we can see it. Tie-dye became fully developed in China during the T’ang dynasty (618-906 A.D.) and in Japan during the Nara period (552-794 A.D.).

Bandhini or Bandhej Embroidery work in India was started by the Khatri community of Gujarat. Nowadays, most of the sarees are weaved in Rajasthan, Gujrat, Sindh, and Punjab region. This weaving art is performed by skilled and experienced weavers. Experienced families are also traditionally involved in this craft. 

There are several versions of tie-dye methods across the world. In western countries, the tie-dye method was introduced in the late 1960s. It was directly linked to the Bohemian and Hipster cultures. In Japan, this method is called Shibori. It is a Japanese Kimonos. Plangi and Titik are Indonesian words. The words are derived from Japan. It is also a tie-dye process of that place. In Malaysia, it is as same as Indonesia. In Thailand, you will find the Mudmee process which is also a tie-dye technique.

Bandhni is the Indian version of the tie-dye method. Small circular patterns are created using fingernails or iron nails. SungudiBandhej, Piliya, Mothra, Ekdali, Shikari, Khombi, Ghar Chola, Patori, Chandrokhani, and Chungidi are the variation of this word. 

Making / Tye-dye process

To make this saree, a resilient base is needed because the fabrics need tying and dying. The base fabric must be absorbent so that it can absorb the colors while dying.

Fine mill-made cotton is used to create bandhani. Generally, the makers of this saree prefer white and unbleached fabric. Bold cords are used to create the designs using the Geru mixture. Geru mixture is produced by mixing red or orange earth and water.

At first, the fabrics are tied in different knots very tightly. Then it is left to be dyed for some time with different colors. At the time of dye, the knots do not catch the color. When the process is ended, it is dried in the open air. Bandhni can be presented in different colors, designs, and patterns. But it depends on the region of the origin. Black, red, yellow, green, and blue is often used in this saree. Dots, waves, strips are used as a pattern in this saree.


While Bandhani fabric is popularly used for making suits, dupattas, chaniya cholis, turbans, bags, etc, the most popular ensemble in Bandhani remains the saree.There are mainly three types of Bandhni sarees:


“Jaal” means “Web”. It is used mostly for Wedding occasions, this type of Bandhej is highly intricate and has full jal work of Bandhani all over. It is extremely popular in Marwari communities. BorJaal Bandhani Sarees have a very intricate and striking inter-play of colors, patterns, and dots, that together create an amazing maze design on the fabric. They are available in many colors and can be made on georgettes too.

Jhankaar Bandhni

This type of Bandhani  is very colorful and vibrant, and has extremely fine, patterns. Jhankaar Bandhani doesn’t have light or white-colored dots, like other Bandhani styles. For example an all green Jhankaar Bandhani will have red or maroon dots. You will not find any light-colored shade here.

Color Discharge Bandhni

Typically, Bandhani technique involves using darker colors over lighter ones. However, in the color discharge technique, the reverse is done and in fact, lighter colors are visible over darker colored dot patterns. For instance, in such a Bandhej, you will see deep red dots on a pale yellow base.

Another innovation of the Bandhej saree is the Banarasi Bandhani saree which is essentially, Bandhani saree with Banarasi brocade border. It is generally made using pure, high-quality georgette fabric that is adorned with brocade and Banarasi weave borders. Bandhani done on these expensive sarees is often extremely fine and included in the traditional bridal trousseau.

Bandhej is a delicate fabric and needs to be stored and maintained carefully. Dry cleaning is the best way to take care of it and it must be stored properly so that it doesn’t lose its color or tensile strength.

My Experience

The sarees I draped were bought directly from Rajasthan. When I received the sarees first time, I saw the Bandh or the tye in the saree. I was delighted. All over the body of those sarees are covered with dots. There are also some circular patterns. Generally, red, indigo, ocre, I mean dark colors are found in this saree with lighter hues. Sarees are really fine, soft, comfortable and colourful. It is really the work of art.