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Our Crafts

For our artisans, craft is more than just a source of income. It is an opportunity for them to document their histories and express their identities. Behind every handmade product sold by Rangsutra lies a story – a story of a young woman’s dreams, a mother’s love, a story of migration and uprootedness, a sense of belonging, a community’s need to express their identity – which finds a voice. These crafts and the stories form the foundation of each Rangsutra product. Each one is a celebration of the unique and longstanding tradition of Indian traditional craftmanship.

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Applique

Applique is a decorative textile made by cutting out intricate designs on fabric, glueing it on a base fabric and stitching these pieces together with hem stitch. Together, they form a pattern. Like embroidery it has a humble beginning where the technique is used to strengthen worn out areas in the fabric. Though the term appliqué is derived from French and Latin words appliquer and applicare, respectively, which both mean to join or attach, it is an essential component of many types of ancient Indian folk art. Different areas developed unique styles of appliqué. 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.

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Applique

Applique is a decorative textile made by cutting out intricate designs on fabric, glueing it on a base fabric and stitching these pieces together with hem stitch. Together, they form a pattern. Like embroidery it has a humble beginning where the technique is used to strengthen worn out areas in the fabric. Though the term appliqué is derived from French and Latin words appliquer and applicare, respectively, which both mean to join or attach, it is an essential component of many types of ancient Indian folk art. Different areas developed unique styles of appliqué. 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.

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Basic Embroidery Stitches

In many of our new clusters, our woman artisans learn basic embroidery stitches like Kanada, Bachda, Dantiya, Choon and Bakhiya to add to their existing skill sets such as block printing, weaving, etc. This helps them to add value to their existing products by creating unique products which have two different crafts that complement each other. Some of these embroideries are described below.

Kanada: A variation of the Herringbone stitch
Bachda: Cross stitch
Dantiya: Feather stitch
Choon: Small decorative triangles
Bakhiya: Back stitch

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Chikankari

Chikankari is said to be one of the ancient and traditional art of embroidery, with its roots in Lucknow and surrounding areas. It is a delicate and shadow work type of embroidery and is believed to have been introduced in India by Persian nobles in the Mughal courts. In the beginning, Chikankari was only white on white embroidery but grew to become a special form of fabric embroidery with a variety of designs and colours. Primarily handmade by women, it involves over 40 stitches and requires discipline and precision in the detailing. Rangsutra artisans use five main stitches in their craft - tepchi, sidha bakhiya, phanda, ghas patti and chana patti. They belong to Rithwan, Salempur and Akbarpur Talu in Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh.

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Chikankari

Chikankari is said to be one of the ancient and traditional art of embroidery, with its roots in Lucknow and surrounding areas. It is a delicate and shadow work type of embroidery and is believed to have been introduced in India by Persian nobles in the Mughal courts. In the beginning, Chikankari was only white on white embroidery but grew to become a special form of fabric embroidery with a variety of designs and colours. Primarily handmade by women, it involves over 40 stitches and requires discipline and precision in the detailing. Rangsutra artisans use five main stitches in their craft - tepchi, sidha bakhiya, phanda, ghas patti and chana patti. They belong to Rithwan, Salempur and Akbarpur Talu in Hardoi district of Uttar Pradesh.

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Desert Embroideries

Soof ♣ Pukka ♣ Kharek ♣ Sindhi

The starkness of the desert of Rajasthan is balanced by the brilliant colours used in the embroideries like Soof, Pukka, Kharek and Sindhi. Traditionally used to create a wedding trousseau, these embroideries were first used in India by the Meghawaad community who migrated from Sindh, Pakistan during the 1971 war. Soof is a fine, delicate embroidery with geometrical motifs. Pucca embroidery uses elongated square chain and double button hole and satin stitches. Kharek, as the name suggests, is reminiscent of the textural quality of the date tree and is a geometric style of needlework created by counting the structural makeup of the fabric. The Sindhi embroidery is the interlacing stitch worked over a laid foundation of threads. Rangsutra artisans practicing desert embroideries are settled in Bikaner and Barmer districts of Western Rajasthan.

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Kashmiri Embroidery

The needle crafts of Kashmir such as crewel, aari, chain stitch, and sozni have been honed and perfected by generations. The stitches are simple - Kashmiri hand embroidery work uses stitches such as satin, stem, chain and long & short stitches with occasional use of herringbone, button hole and darning stitches. Hand embroidery of Kashmir excels in colours, beauty, texture and designs. Our artisans live in the Noorbagh area of Srinagar and most have learnt the craft from their mothers and grandmothers. Crewel embroidery has been practiced in each of their families for generations. The intricate and colorful motifs thoughtfully placed in patterns takes one’s breath away. And when these designs are embroidered on fine handwoven cotton, it becomes a contemporary masterpiece.

'Working in Noorari cluster gives me the opportunity to meet other women. There is joy and laughter and it takes away all my tension.'

Masrat, Noorbagh, Srinagar
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Kashmiri Embroidery

The needle crafts of Kashmir such as crewel, aari, chain stitch, and sozni have been honed and perfected by generations. The stitches are simple - Kashmiri hand embroidery work uses stitches such as satin, stem, chain and long & short stitches with occasional use of herringbone, button hole and darning stitches. Hand embroidery of Kashmir excels in colours, beauty, texture and designs. Our artisans live in the Noorbagh area of Srinagar and most have learnt the craft from their mothers and grandmothers. Crewel embroidery has been practiced in each of their families for generations. The intricate and colorful motifs thoughtfully placed in patterns takes one’s breath away. And when these designs are embroidered on fine handwoven cotton, it becomes a contemporary masterpiece.

'Working in Noorari cluster gives me the opportunity to meet other women. There is joy and laughter and it takes away all my tension.'

Masrat, Noorbagh, Srinagar
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Ralli

Ralli means ‘to connect’ and is the art of connecting small pieces of recycled fabric. These colourful bits of fabric are placed in geometric patterns and hand-stitched together with precision. It complements beautifully with Rangsutra’s policy of zero waste. Upcycling waste fabric is an important part of our production process. Left over fabric from different centres is used to make innovative products using different techniques of applique, patchwork and creative weaving by our artisans to make home furnishings and accessories. The craft belongs to Sindh and is practiced by communities who have settled in the Bikaner and Barmer districts of Rajasthan where they have been lovingly crafting elaborate connections of fabric within their families for decades.

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Tie and Dye

Tie and Dye craft can be traced back to the Indus Valley civilization and continues to have an important position in families in Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is the art of tying small knots on fine fabrics by pinching it with the help of a thimble. The design is resisted by knotting, then dyed in various colours leaving areas undyed. Bandhej and Leheriya are two classic versions of Tie and Dye in India while Shibori is popular in Japan. Our artisans in Bikaner and Churu produce beautiful fabric using bandhej, shibori, leheriya and other resist dyeing techniques.

'Almost every land has a type of dyeing technique. Colors are a metaphor of happiness, and different moods and emotions break the monotony of the desert landscape and fill people's lives with joy.'

Hasanji Bikaner, Rajasthan
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Tie and Dye

Tie and Dye craft can be traced back to the Indus Valley civilization and continues to have an important position in families in Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is the art of tying small knots on fine fabrics by pinching it with the help of a thimble. The design is resisted by knotting, then dyed in various colours leaving areas undyed. Bandhej and Leheriya are two classic versions of Tie and Dye in India while Shibori is popular in Japan. Our artisans in Bikaner and Churu produce beautiful fabric using bandhej, shibori, leheriya and other resist dyeing techniques.

'Almost every land has a type of dyeing technique. Colors are a metaphor of happiness, and different moods and emotions break the monotony of the desert landscape and fill people's lives with joy.'

Hasanji Bikaner, Rajasthan
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Weaving Extra Weft

Extra weft or pattu craft is a process of weaving where one extra set of thread is woven into the regular weft at intervals to create ornamental geometric patterns. These patterns are usually inspired by the regional flora and fauna. This is done by lifting the warp with fingers and inserting the extra warp threads. Rangsutra works with a network of artisans in Barmer, Rajasthan and has pushed innovation in the craft by training weavers to work with finer cotton counts while retaining traditional techniques associated with pattu weaving.

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Weaving Handloom

Our handwoven pure cotton fabrics are woven on a frame loom in the village centres around Bikaner and Barmer in Rajasthan and Imphal in Manipur. This is done keeping in mind the layouts and placement of stripes that is carefully designed in advance. Over the last decade, Rangsutra has worked artisans to experiment with finer counts of yarn. With our skill upgradation interventions and support for the installation of looms, the younger generation is slowly taking up weaving. Handloom weaving is now a major source of income in these clusters.

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Weaving Handloom

Our handwoven pure cotton fabrics are woven on a frame loom in the village centres around Bikaner and Barmer in Rajasthan and Imphal in Manipur. This is done keeping in mind the layouts and placement of stripes that is carefully designed in advance. Over the last decade, Rangsutra has worked artisans to experiment with finer counts of yarn. With our skill upgradation interventions and support for the installation of looms, the younger generation is slowly taking up weaving. Handloom weaving is now a major source of income in these clusters.

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