College of Design

Goldstein Museum of Design

Discovering Lahariya

Part of our upcoming exhibition Beyond Peacocks and Paisleys: Handcrafted Textiles of India and its Neighbors covers resist-dyed textiles. At first glance, the multiple fine straight lines in some of the patterns seemed printed. I was intrigued. Most of the time, tied resists have a telling irregular edge, caused by the fabric gathering at the tied areas. How did the artisans achieve these nearly perfect lines? According to Tie-dyed Textiles of India, by Veronica Murphy and Rosemary Crill , the essential ingredients are very fine cotton fabric, tightly rolled and bound with thread. The fine cloth would absorb dye all the way through so the color would be even all over.

OK, so I rolled and tied, then dyed some muslin and got the very fine lines. Good.

Rolling the fabric

Tied fabric

Then I wanted to make the classic Lahariya "wave" pattern. This chevron pattern seemed easy enough to figure out.

Example of chevron from Dr. Donald Clay Johnson's Paritosh Collection

Recalling an African tie-and-dye workshop, I knew than folding the cloth like an accordion and tying on the diagonal would make a chevron pattern. But how to tie that on a diagonal and retain those crisp lines? I like to use paper to work things out by hand.

Showing how the fabric is folded to create a chevron pattern

Fabric tied on the diagonal

Example of partially untied lahariya from Donald Clay Johnson's collection


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