Applique work is famous in the cloth cover of the three chariots of the presiding deities in which they travel every year during the Ratha Yatra. Indian Handicrafts in the Globalization times is but an analysis of the global dynamics and the regional concentration of the Applique Art and portrays the Cottage Industry of Indian Subcontinent.
Applique items find their usage processions of the deities in their various ritual outings. Items like Chhati, Tarasa and Chandua are used for this purpose. Applique craft is traditionally practised by a caste of professional tailors, known as Darjis. Applique the art of patch work, is an integral part of Gujarat and its world of folk art.
The decorative needle work of Gujarat has a distinctive style of its own. Applique is a craft, which has waste piece of cloth as its raw material. Articles produced by this craft were used by kings and emperors and the nobility in the past. The Shamiana and Chandowa, the two principal items of this craft, continue to be used today for all religious and social ceremonies.
Applique has its etymological origin in French that refers to an art form superimposing the patches of colored fabrics on a piece of basic fabric/cloth to mould the same in a new look. This Art form is known and recognized in other parts of India but it is Orissa and especially Pipli the Craft breathes shapes up an identity of its own and takes on new form. In actuality Applique works are a vivid expression of Orissa Crafts.
Myth has it that applique works of Orissa date back to more than 850 years. The process of making the products has remained unchanged over the past few centuries. However during the last two to three decades, both the Applique products and their style have undergone a tremendous change.
If one takes a closer look at the socio cultural aspect of Orissa, one can gauge how Craft is integrally related with the people of Orissa. Most of the things in Orissa, including Tours, Travels and Crafts seem to revolve around Jagannath, who is the reigning deity of Orissa.
Amidst the array of Traditional Applique Crafts of Eastern Zone, Chandua, Chhati, Trasa, Alata, Adhoni, Mandant and Bana, used at the time of Dol Jatra for deities are quite well-known. These products find their utilitarian usage in sync with the religious ceremonies of Lord Jagannath. So it can be safely concluded that this art form ascribes its origin to the Jagannath cult. Patronized by kings and nobility of Orissa, applique work at one time had reached the artistic heights of excellence.
Applique craft of Eastern India evolved to include other products as well that were prepared both for domestic and individual use. Two such products are Batua and Pasa-Pali. Since betel is commonly chewed in Orissa, a special type of bag called Batua is prepared to carry betel leaf and accessories. It is very much popular among the tourists from Eastern parts of the country. Pasa Pali or the dice-mat is another popular ancient products sold among the natives. All these products are today being replaced from the main menu of applique art. Instead, wall hangings, garden umbrellas, lamp sheds, cushion covers and letter bags are now prepared as they are very much in demand by the tourists.
In Bihar the art of Applique is commonly known as Khatwa which is famous for manufacturing decorative tents and canopies which have their use in the numerous ceremonial festivities. Items like beach and garden umbrellas, lamp shades and wall hangings also are crafted by artisans. The motifs include the Persian tress, human figure, birds, animals and flowers. The work includes division of labour and equality of sexes usually; the men cut the patterns while the women do the stitching. Bright colours like red, orange, yellow or green are more common. Khatwa is also used in designing women garments thus laying at par fashion and artistic endeavours. The designs created are more sharp, intricate and highly appealing. Most of the garments shop sells these highly artistic clothes. People in some villages of Bihar are involved only in art works and it is their main source of income. Since the skills are generic and are passed down the expertise lane and innovations are immaculate.
The art form typically depended on four basic colors - red, white, black and yellow to produce a striking effect. In recent years, green too has been applied vigorously enlivening the craft even more. Temples and other religious institutions patronized this art form extensively due to which this art form flourished. In fact the basic inspiration for the art form was mainly religious in nature.
The craftsman first prepares the base material in the shape of square, rectangle, and circle or oval which forms the background for the pieces of art. Applique motifs in contrasting colors are then cut in the shape of animals, birds, flowers, leaves, celestial bodies and geometric shapes and stitched into the base cloth in aesthetic arrangements. Raised motifs are prepared by giving several folds. The actual grace of applique craft lies in its intricate stitches namely, bakhia, guntha, turpa, chikan and other very delicate and esoteric embroidery techniques. Nowadays, small mirrors and bright metal pieces are used to enhance its beauty. After attaching the applique patches to the base cloth, the borders are then stitched. Almost all the family members get involved in this craft. Skilled persons of the family go for beautiful intricate designs while the less experienced take up the simple works like stitching the borders and making the base clothes. The temple art and the familiar family art that evolved as Temple art later metamorphosed into global art.