The thread that binds India, Japan

Good Morning friends,

This is one thread that binds the Japanese and Gujaratis – the tie and dye technique of fabric printing. The shibori art dating back to the eight century uses the same resist techniques used by the bandhani artistes in Kutch and Jamnagar districts of Gujarat.


“The sanskrit word banda to tie’, is the root of bandhani while shibori uses the stitching’ technique of resisting,” says Samarth Firdaus, a shibori expert at the National Institute of Design (NID). If in bandhani, the artisan ties the portion of the cloth which is not to be dyed with a wax thread before dipping it in dye, the resisted portion is stitched and then pulled to make gathers in shibori, says Firdaus. Mainly used in kimonos, the shibori cloth is bound, resisted, wrapped and gathered by hand and this step is repeated for each colour dye it is dipped in. It is said that one kimono could take a year to make.


Angira Shah, who has trained Gujarati women in the traditional art of shibori, based in Ahmedabad says bandhani is older than shibori and was exported from India to Japan which mastered production, techniques in layout and design.


“Stitching in any case, came later,” says Firdaus. In 1997, NID hosted the second World Shibori Network conference here where it brought together artistes using both techniques and held demonstrations. Shibori experts from Nagoya in Japan too attended this conference.

The motifs in shibori are mostly based on nature, like birds and flowers, says Firdaus. “Now they have started using polyester mixed cotton to make the crush on the fabric permanent,” he says. Besides, the colours in bandhani are rich and bright while shibori uses subtle shades, he says.


Bandhani patterns are usually geometric clusters, but they also use traditional motifs, which also makes shibori more costly than bandhani..


“Nowadays, we can find shibori easily in Gujarat but they are crude versions. The Japanese went far ahead of us in this art and mastered it. In ancient times, our work was more meticulous and sharp,” says Shah.


According to her, Arimatsu village in Japan is known as shibori village which also has a museum. Even today, Arimatsu and Narumi in Nagoya prefecture remain the only main production centres in Japan, where over 100 varieties of shibori is practised.


News from times of india


7 responses to “The thread that binds India, Japan

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  3. banyantreequilts

    Thank you for the detailed article. It opened my eye to new facts about Shibori verses tie and dye.As a quilter I come across lot of techniques which are claimed by the western world as their own now, but being an Indian I know that they existed in India long long ago but the sad thing is that we neither preserved it or developed it.


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