Friday, February 3, 2012

Lambani Embroidery

Lambanis lead a gypsy life and mainly inhabit the western Indian states including Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. A part of this tribal community is also found in the northern region of Karnataka. The Lambani tribe of India speak a language which is believed to have been originated in the state of Rajasthan. Earlier, Lambanis used to supply grains to armies. In the olden days, the Lambani people carried grain, salt, bamboos and firewood. The tribal community used oxen to carry heavier commodities.
In the dry, rocky area of Maharashtra,Karnatka and andhrpradesh reside the Lambanis, dressed in their colourful embroidered dresses strewn with mirrors, coins and shells.
The Lambani woman's outfit consists of a skirt or phetiya made up of five distinct bands and secured at the waist with a drawstring tie which hangs down embellished with cowrie shells and tassels , a backless blouse or kaachadi with the characteristic square mirrors embroidered on the front and sleeves and the veil called the chaatiya or ghungato which is a length of commercially printed or woven fabric embellished with a wide band of mirror work and coins.
Lambanis, elsewhere known as “Banjaras”, who originally came from Marwar are semi-nomadic people who reside mostly in Southern and Middle India. As with many tribal groups, especially those with a nomadic heritage, there is a modern tendency to either isolate or assimilate. The Banjara women, however, are holding steadfast to their ancient mode of dress, which is perhaps the most colorful and elaborate of any tribal group in India. The Lambani women practice a unique mirror and embroidery craft, which they mostly use for making their own traditional dresses or for giving to their daughters for their weddings.

The Lambani embroidery is an amalgam of pattern darning, mirror work, cross stitch, and overlaid and quilting stitches with borders of “Kangura” patchwork appliqué, done on loosely woven dark blue or red handloom base fabric.

Lambani embroidery is commonly mistaken as Kutchi (Kachhi) embroidery because of mirror work, but shells and coins are unique to this type of embroidery. Also, the stitches used are different.

The 14 types of stitches used in Lambani embroidery are Kilan, Vele, Bakkya, Maki, Suryakanti Maki, Kans, Tera Dora, Kaudi, Relo, Gadri, Bhuriya, Pote, Jollya, Nakra. Products made with such embroidery have wonderful textures and a bohemian style, making them very popular with tourists.

A distinctive design range is its revival and use of local mud-resist handloom fabric, and the mirrors, shells and white ornamental trims that are a traditional part of Lambani as well as the Irikil saris of Dharwad-Hubli and other local fabrics.

There are 13 colours that are mostly used in Lambani embroidery, out of which; red and blue are most common. The base cloth used is either cotton khadi or power loom fabric and is also dyed locally, thus working in harmony with the local small scale industry. Although most of the fabric is dyed using chemical colours, vegetable dyes made from Kattha, Rathanjot, Chawal Kudi, Pomegranate peel etc are gaining popularity.

Lambani embroidery has now reached all over the world with the export of bed sheets and cushion covers in subtle colours but the heavily embroidered bags in flamboyant colours remain are a favourite among tourists.

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