From the dazzling desert city of golden sand dunes and mystic palatial buildings, we present you with the equally majestic textile of Leheriya. The magnificent forts overlooking the royal state of Rajasthan sometimes overshadow the tantalizing textiles that flourished here, especially the unique tie-dyes practised here since ages. One such by-product of tie and die is Leheriya.
The wave-like designs are said to be inspired from the sand dunes of the deserts. Worn as turbans, sarees, dupattas or veils, leheriya textiles are usually of very fine cotton or silk, fabrics that facilitate such usage as well as allow the dye to seep-in to the innermost portions of the coiled or rolled fabric.
Leheriya was patronized in the nineteenth and early twentieth century by the Rajasthani businessmen and merchants who covered their heads with vibrant turbans or safas. Belonging to the native Marwari community in Rajasthan, leheriya were initially dyed in yellow and red. Saafa is a continuous strip of fabric that is commonly worn in Jodhpur. Traditionally, the longer paag was worn in Jaipur and the pagari by the Baniya community in the state.
The solid versions of all three are worn as regular headbands. The gorgeous leheriya patterns were worn on special occasions and certain seasons. Such as the pachrang in yellow, red, green and blues; the samudra leher dyed in the colours of the sea and the indradhanush, dyed in the seven colours of the rainbow were reserved for the monsoons. During mourning or as an attire to someone’s death ceremony, attires in muted colours such as mauve and brown are preferred.
Mothra is a variety of the leheriya where two sets of diagonal lines cross each other creating small rectangular spaces. It derives its name from moth meaning pulses, which resembles the dots located between the cheeks. Mothra is developed on similar fabrics as that of leheriya. Saafas of mothra is preferred during diwalis. Leheriya and mothra are worn primarily during the occasions of Gangaur and Teej. Leheriya was a style originally used in head turbans. Over the years leheriya was adopted in lehenga cholis, salwars and sarees. Nowadays, Leheriya is a part of both attire and accessories. It is now seen on ethic and casual clothing, bags and shoes, as well as on scarves and cravats. Lehariya patterns such as Mothda, Panchranga and Satranga have gained demands globally because of their exquisite patterns.
The extensive and complex method includes the tying of cloth into a turban or a saree that is folded in such a way that when opened post-dyeing, there is a striped pattern created on the cloth with dyed portions on every opposite stripe. The fabric is rolled diagonally from one corner to the opposite edge and then tied at the required gapping. The repetitive loops of tied thread thus create the wave patterns from the folding techniques made before dyeing. Original leheriya only uses natural dyes.
Indigo is used for bright blue shade or alizarin for red hues during the final stage of preparation. A leheriya dupatta can take anywhere between three to four days to be finished. The base cloth is of a lighter colour, generally white and in cotton, silk, chiffon or georgette. Traditionally, craftsmen would tie and dip it in multiple dyes to get the desired pattern in variegated colours. To prevent colour bleeding, the fabric is dipped in water and salt solution overnight. This helps in fastening the colour.
If you happen to visit Jaipur or Jodhpur, don’t forget to delve into the variegated leheriya designs and apparels found in the old city markets.