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The art of shibori

Shibori comes from the Japanese word shiboru, meaning ‘to wring, squeeze or press’. It refers to a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. Although shibori is used to designate a particular group of resist-dyed textiles, the word emphasizes the action performed on cloth, the process of manipulating fabric. Shibori includes a form of tie-dye that originated in Japan and Indonesia. It has been practiced there since at least the 8th century. Shibori includes a number of labor-intensive resist techniques including stitching elaborate patterns and tightly gathering the stitching before dyeing, forming intricate designs for kimonos. Shibori is also created by wrapping the fabric around a core of rope, wood or other material, and binding it tightly with string or thread before dyeing. The areas of the fabric that are against the core or under the binding would remain un-dyed.

The special features of Shibori

- The special characteristic of shibori resist is a soft or blurry-edged pattern. The effect is quite different from the sharp-edged resist obtained with stencil, paste and wax.

- With shibori the dyer works in concert with the materials, not in an effort to overcome their limitations, but to allow them full expression. And an element of the unexpected is always present.

- In India shibori was first introduced by literature Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, famed for his interest in reviving and reinventing the traditional arts and crafts of the country apart from his expertise in Bengali literature.

Shibori – as practised in India

- Shibori is practiced in the urban villages of Delhi, craft clusters of Rajasthan and Bhuj in Gujarat.

- Most artisans use the rope-tied technique of shibori wherein a rope is tied to a bundle of fabric. Only the area that does not have the rope gets colored, while parts under it resists.

- This method of tie-and-dye is a coarser variant of the shibori process that has been explained earlier.