2017

Leheriya Textiles from Rajasthan

Dastkari Haat Samiti

 Poetry of the sand dunes

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Leheriya designs are inspired by the desert sands, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
An Ode to Rajasthan's Sandy Deserts
As one of India's many textile crafts, Leheriya is unique to Rajasthan. The craft-persons attribute its inspirations to the desert landscape. Leheriya is a fabric with colourful diagonal or chevron striped patterns that have been created through resist dyeing. It is a resist technique exclusive to Rajasthan, its main centres being the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur.
Leheriya Tie-Dye: Leheriya textile, Badshah Mian, 2010, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Leheriya designs are inspired by natural patterns made by the wind blowing across the desert sands of Rajasthan.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Royal saafas or turban cloth, Unknown, 16th-18th century, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

These textile fragments, in the dotted tie & dye and diagonally striped Leheriya, date back to the 17th century.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Royal saafas or turban cloth, Unknown, 16th-18th century, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Motifs are usually inspired by nature, like the bird seen among the dots. The colours used in the 17th century were derived from plants and minerals.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Royal saafas or turban cloth, Unknown, 16th-18th century, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Royal Linkages
Tie & dye craftpersons who work in Jaipur are from the Neelghar Rangrez community. Most of them are settled in the Neelghar Nalla area of Ramganj. Leheriya, and its extension Mothra, are two sets of diagonal designs crossing each other, creating rectangular spaces and squares. This is called a wrap resist technique. It was patronised by the Rajput rulers of Rajasthan, who used Leheriya turban cloths.
India's Caste System, Margaret Bourke-White, 1946, From the collection of: LIFE Photo Collection

With its flamboyant stripe and chevron patterns, Leheriya was patronised by the royalty in Rajasthan.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Leheriya textile, Badshah Mian, 2010, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Extremely complex, Leheriya designs use up to nine tints, and could take a whole month to complete.

Favoured artisans were rewarded with a jagir of land or sufficient grains to feed their families.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Royal saafas or turban cloth, Unknown, 16th-18th century, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Each royal house had its signature Leheriya patterns and colours.

The fabrics shown in the picture were used exclusively for saafas, or turban cloths, for the royal household.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Royal saafas or turban cloth, Unknown, 16th-18th century, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

On a base of Bengal muslin specially woven on narrow looms, the saafas were made in unique Leheriya patterns by artisans attached to the royal house.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Bandhani turban, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

While independent India no longer has royal states, the saafa continues to be an integral element of traditional Rajasthani attire. It is widely worn in the rural areas of Rajasthan.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Open air shop display, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti
Open Air Markets
Shops like these are a regular part of the old market in Jaipur. Here, customers are invited to buy saafas, the traditional headgear worn by men in Rajasthan. Craftspersons also make saris and veils with the same kind of techniques. These are worn every day, with more ornamented ones saved for weddings and festivals, like Gangaur and Teej, which herald the arrival of spring and the monsoon.
Leheriya Tie-Dye: Open air shop display, 2017-08, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Leheriya designs in red, yellow and orange are popularly bought for the male members of an entire wedding entourage.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Leheriya textile, Badshah Mian, 2010, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The vivid pink leheriya sari is considered auspicious and is made specially for brides to wear on the occasion of the first Teej since their marriage.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Leheriya textile, Badshah Mian, 2010, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

The vibrant pink colour is locally named 'rani pink'. A signature colour of Rajasthan, it was a favourite with the queens of Rajasthan, hence the name ‘rani’ pink.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Leheriya textile, Badshah Mian, 2010, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Today, Leheriya textiles are made in a myriad vibrant colours and patterns, and continue to be a part of a living, evolving tradition.

Leheriya Tie-Dye: Leheriya textiles, Badshah Mian, 2010, From the collection of: Dastkari Haat Samiti

Read more about Leheriya textiles here:
- The Process
- Badshah Mian, Master Craftsman
- The Markets

Dastkari Haat Samiti
Credits: Story

Text: Aloka Hiremath, Jaya Jaitly
Photography: Suleiman Merchant
Artisans: Badshah Mian and family
Ground Facilitator: Charu Verma
Curation: Ruchira Verma

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile