A VISIT WITH THE MASTER ARTISANS
In February of 2020 I had the honor of visiting the workshop of a master leheriya artisan. Mr Neelgar’s family has been practicing the Rajasthani craft of leheriya for four generations.
The term leheria (or leheriya) comes from the Rajasthani word for wave. This describes the visually rippled pattern created by tightly rolling the fabric and tying at intervals to resist the dye. The technique is applied to both cotton and silks. In India it has long been a popular choice for pagari (turbans) and women’s sarees, stoles and other fashions.
The process of rolling, tying, and dying fabric is repeated in order to create intensely colored intersecting pattern.
First the fabric is rolled and tied at intervals with string. This must be done very tightly.
Isha Ji (above) has been tying leheriya since she was a young girl. She was taught by her grandmother who practiced for 100 years (her whole life minus a few years at the beginning and end)
Next the tied fabric is placed in the dye bath. The fabric must be constantly manipulated during this application. The craftsmen work in a group, chatting as each works his own fabrics.
This process is repeated up to nine times to create multi-color designs of intersecting stripes. The fabric must be untied, washed and retied for each new color.
In recent years the studio has become 100% AZO free. This means a much safer work environment for the artisans.
I purchased some pieces at the workshop, seen above before being unrolled and pressed flat.
We finished some of these leheriya treasures into darling neckerchiefs. A few of these will be available in the webshop while supplies last.
Keep scrolling for more of our leheriya collection. Or read Waves of a Desert by Gaatha article even more about this stunning tradition.