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Applique: An Enduring Craft

Posted by Shrimayee Dutta on
Applique: An Enduring Craft

Applique is a delicate art form that involves cutting intricate designs from fabric, meticulously gluing them onto a base material, and then stitching these pieces together using a hem stitch. The resulting patterns are stunning and masterful. This craft, akin to embroidery in its artistry, traces its origins to the humblest of beginnings, initially employed to mend old garments and reinforce worn-out cloth in the midst of economic constrains. Over time, applique has transcended its pragmatic roots, evolving into a vibrant medium for embellishing everything from clothing to furniture, a testament to its enduring appeal passed down through generations of skilled artisans, predominantly women, who have kept this craft alive and thriving.

The term "applique" finds its origins in the French word "appliquer" and the Latin word "applicare," both meaning "to join" or "to attach." While the word itself has European origins, this craft has deep-seated roots in various ancient Indian folk-art traditions – breathing life into any plain ‘old’ fabric and imbuing it with depth and character.

Our applique artisans in Barmer belong to a community that migrated from Pakistan during the war of 1971 and settled in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. These artisans have continued to preserve and pass down the applique technique through the generations, resulting in celebration and continued practice. Today, young girls in the community aspire to follow in the footsteps of their mothers and grandmothers, ensuring that this beautiful craft continues to flourish.


In a world where many embroidery, printing, and weaving techniques ranging from Kanchipuram to Banarasi, Phulkari to Kantha, Saudagiri to Kalamkari have stood the test of time solely by flowing under the patronage of the Delhi Sultanate, the Great Mughal Empire, Nawabs and Rajas, and the European-Portuguese, French, and British, applique emerges as a remarkable outlier. Its longevity, without any royal endorsement, is a testament to its innate significance in the daily lives of women – borne from necessity and developing both at an economic level, and as a craft reaching the extent of finesse and perfection.


Our skilled applique artisans have carried forward this intricate craft through time, and their dedication and expertise continue to shine through these exquisite creations. Check out our newest applique collection – Arrosa, inspired by the flowers of Spring and meticulously crafted by our cluster of artisans in Barmer.

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