At Bandhej we celebrate indigenous handcrafted fabrics, offering a range of traditional and contemporary clothing with an Indian sensibility. Bandhej is known for its contemporary interpretation of rich, traditional, craft techniques and innovation reflected in its clothing line, which has created a unique design idiom and identity for the brand. Today BANDHEJ has a chain of stores in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Pune and Cochin.
The brand was started in 1981 by Archana Shah, an alumna of the National Institute of Design. The first store opened in Ahmedabad in 1985, BANDHEJ was one of the first 'designer' labels in the country, which while drawing upon the Indian heritage in textiles also reflected a very contemporary sensibility in the design of its fabrics and clothing for men and women, offering a range of clothing for a multicultural woman, who is looking for eclectic apparel that reflects her strong sense of self and style. Archana Shah says "At Bandhej, craft is not treated like fashion novelty to be forgotten when not in vogue. The attempt has been to constantly find new design directions for the same crafts. It is a design challenge to innovate and continue working with craft communities with which working relationships have been built over the last twenty five years and more."
BANDHEJ works with handloom or hand crafted (hand woven, block printed, tie & dye) textiles and uses eco-friendly natural fibre. All textiles are designed at their design studio and produced by very skilled traditional craftspeople from all over the country including in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kutch, Rajasthan and Benaras. Clothes are designed and produced at the BANDHEJ workshop in Ahmedabad. Intricate embellishments, hand embroidery, badla and appliqué is done by a large number of traditional craft people in and around Ahmedabad.
On her commitment to craft, Archana says "Today this network of many hundred craftspeople forms the base for our creations. We at BANDHEJ are committed to improving the quality of the craft techniques and encouraging the younger generation to continue pursuing their craft tradition."
about ARCHANA SHAH
Archana Shah graduated from the National Institute of Design (NID) in 1980. Soon after graduating from NID, she travelled to remote corners of the country to study, understand and experience the vast variety of weaving, dyeing, printing, embroidery and ornamentation techniques practised by different communities.
This proved to be a very enriching journey, and the unique skills of the people of various regions, their distinctive colour palettes, and rich design vocabulary became the base for all her future work.
In 1985, Archana started a clothing company, BANDHEJ, a label influenced by the traditional textiles and craft skills, created for Indian women, with a very Indian sensibility. Today, Bandhej is a recognised brand, with a chain of stores in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune and Cochin.
Apart from this, she has designed costumes for a few feature films such as Bhavni Bhavai, Mirch Masala, Hun, Hunshi, Hunsilal and costumes for theatre. 1985 – 1997 she also worked on Festival of India inaugurations at Paris, Moscow, Leningrad and Tashkent to design architectural textile installations to create an Indian mood.
More recently she has published a book - SHIFTING SANDS, Kutch: A Land in Transition. The book is a personal journey of discovery and about her association of over 30 years with the land, people and their craft.
PASHMA/PASHMINA AND SHAHTOOSH – Wool Weaving Pashmina and Shahtoosh are extremely fine, light weight, superior quality, hand spun and hand woven woollen textiles. Pashmina shawls are made from the wool of the Pashmina goats, indigenous to the high altitudes of the Himalayas, while Shahtoosh fibersare obtained from a breed of Tibetan antelopes.
KANI AND JAMAVAR – Wool Weaving The most intricately patterned, luxuriousJamavarand Kanishawls are woven with Pashmina wool, with multiple shuttlesto create exquisitely patterned shawls. Depending on the intricate patterns, the shawl can take over a year to weave.
DO RAKHA – Double sided embroidery This is the most intricate fine embroidery wherein, using a single strand of fine thread, a pattern is created, that appears exactly the same on both sides. This requiresimmense skill and patience and can takeover a year to embroider a fully patterned shawl.
TILLA DORI – Metallic couched embroidery A gold or silver zari (tilla) or silk thread (dori) is used to embellish the surface, while an additional cotton thread is used to secure the zari, to create beautiful intricate patterns.
CREWEL AND AARI – Chain stitch embroideries A chain stitch embroidery in which a hooked needle (aari) is used to work the thread to create a richly detailed surface.
KALEEN – Hand knotted carpets The Kaleen are intricately detailed, hand knotted woollen or silk carpets, with richly detailed patterns, derived from the Persian tradition. The carpets are woven on a vertical loom.
NAMDA – Felted rugs Woollenfibres are enmeshed together by using water, soap and pressure to create the Namda rugs. These are commonly used in Kashmiri households and are decorated with aari embroidery, depicting the local fauna and flora.
TSUG DUL/TSUG GDAN – Woollen tufted rugs The woollen pile rugs of the Ladakh region are made by stitching together narrow strips of woven woollen fabric. Back strap looms (called sked-thags) are used to weave these strips made with sheep or yak wool. Tsugdul is used as a blanket, the tsugdan as floor coverings.
PATTU AND DOULI – Wool weaving The Pattu is a woolen fabric draped like a sarong. These woolen fabrics are either plain, checkered or woven with motifs. Douli are woolen blankets, woven with coarser wool.
DORUKHA/CHAMBA RUMAL – Illustrated double sided embroidery The Chambarumals were square pieces of fine cloth embroidered with silk thread, using a double satin stitch, which made them reversible. Illustrated scenes from daily life, as well as mythological stories were depicted in the embroideries.
PHULKARI Throughout Punjab, Phulkari is an indispensable part of the lives of women. They embroider odhani (veils) and chaddar (wraps) with ‘phulkar’, meaning flower work. The embroidery is worked in a darning stitch with colourful untwisted floss silk, on a dark coloured heavy cotton.
BAGH – Embroidery Like Phulkari, Bagh, meaning garden, is an embroidery technique from the Punjab, where the entire surface of the fabric is covered with embroidery. These elaborate textiles are made in meticulous counted thread embroidery.
PUNJA DHURRIE – Weaving/Inlay work Traditionally an important dowry item, the Punja dhurries are woven on simple horizontal looms in a plain weave, while the motifs are made with supplementary coloured weft, beaten into place with a panja.
COTTON DHURRIE Flat weave, patterned floor coverings
CHUTKA – Looped pile woven rugs The Chutka is a traditional textile of the Shauka tribe, living in the Central Himalayan region. It is a woollen pile blanket, which is usually made of two or more panels stitched together, and is extremely soft and warm.
CHIKANKARI – Embroidery Chikankari is a fine, delicate white-on-white embroidery, traditionally done on fine muslin fabric. Minute stitches are used to create different textures and opacities.
FARDI KA KAAM/KAMDANI/MOOKESH – Metal Wire Embroidery Fardi ka kaamis flattened wire embroidery also called badla or mookesh. In kamdani, the wire is passed through the fabric and worked into motifs, while in fardi, the wire is embroidered in the form of dots to create patterns. The wire is then flattened out with a cowrie shell.
DARAZ – White on white applique Daraz or katao is an applique technique, traditionally used at the seams of chikankari garments.
ZARDOZI – Metal thread couched embroidery ZARDOZI – Metal thread couched embroidery Zardozi is embossed silver or gold metal thread embroidery, studded with pearls, precious stones and sequins, couched onto a heavy silk fabric. A hooked needle or aari is used to do the couching.
JALA LOOMS – Fine Woven Muslin Jala Looms were traditionally used to weave intricate patterned brocade fabrics. In these looms, patterns are created by lifting warp threads.
GYASAR – Silk and Zari brocade These are silk and zari brocade fabrics, woven with Buddhist motifs and patterns. Even today these richly patterned, colourful gyasar brocades are woven in Varanasi for the Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.
KNOTTED PILE CARPETS Uttar Pradesh is one of the major centres of the carpet industry, setup by the Mughals. These carpets are woven using the Persian hand knotting technique, in fine wool or silk.
INLAY DHURRIE Woven on a very basic loom, where patterns are created by interlacing the weft yarn.
LEHERIYA AND BANDHANI – Resist tie-dye Leheriya is a tie-resist dyeing technique, in which the fabric is rolled and tied, to achieve diagonal or zig zag stripes. Mothada is a variation of the leheriya, in which the tie-dye is done to create small checks. Bandhani is resist dyeing technique in which patternsare created by tying small knots on the fabric before dying it.
BAGRU, SANGANER, AKOLA, BALOTRA – BLOCK PRINTING Carved wooden blocks are used to print on fabric to create patterns, with each colour impression requiring a separate block.
GOTA – zari embroidery Gota ribbons were traditionally woven with a silver or gold thread. Considered as a symbol of festivity, gota is used to embellish garments as edging, or appliquéd onto the fabric to create motifs.
GODADI – quilting The godadis are quilts that are made by piecing together and layering old pieces of fabric. The overlapping layers are interlocked together in running stitches to hold it in place, which creates an interesting patterned surface. Often the surface of the quilts are decorated with patchwork motifs.
PATTU – Woven Woollen Blankets Pattu weaving is practiced by the Meghwal community, in which narrow strips of woven wool are stitched together to form shawls. The base cloth is woven is plain or twill weave, while patterns are created using coloured extra weft motifs.
CAMEL BELTS – Braiding Four inch wide camel belts in six to seven feet length are created by the ply-split braiding technique with goat hair in natural shades of white and black. Intricate patterns are createdon one surface in white and on the reverse in black.
MEGHWAL , JAT, BISHNOI – Embroidery Thar desert is known for the finest embroideries created for personal use by the various pastoral communities living in this region.
WOLLEN DHURRIES These reversible dhurries have bold, geometric motifs, using coarse camel or goat hair and are woven on a very basic loom.
FOLK EMBROIDERIES Kutch and Kathiawad regions of Gujarat are home to various pastoral and farming communities. In their leisure time, women created the most exquisite embroideries sprinkled with mirrors for personal use. Elaborate embroideries were created for dowry, their own clothing, home decorations and for their cattle.
PATOLA – Weaving Patola are the double ikat textiles woven with selectively dyed warp and weft threads to create distinct motifs and patterns. These textiles are characterized by their distinctive geometric, floral and figurative motifs, like elephants, parrots, dancing women, birds, etc.
BANDHANI – Resist Tie Dye Bandhani is a resist dyeing process of creating a dot pattern. Dot are tied in a pre determined pattern before dyeing, to resist the dye penetrating the tied areas. Bandhanis are considered auspicious and used in marriage by brides of both Hindu and Muslim communities.
ASAVALLI - Woven brocade The Asavali brocades have a very distinct look, the patterns are simple, often with the ground in complete patterned brocade, with a decorative border and pallav in a minakaribel or parrot pattern. Traditionally the sarees were woven in three shuttle, allowing the border and pallav to have a strong contrast colour.
AJRAKH – double sided block printing Ajrakh, worn by the Maldhari communities of Kutch, is block printed in dominant shades of indigo and madderand printed on both sides of the fabric. Theimpressions match on both sides, thus making ita reversible printed cloth with similar depth of colour and print on both sides of the fabric. This process requires exceptional skill.
MASHRU – silk and cotton weaving Mashru is a multistriped silk fabric, woven on a dense warp in satin weave with a cotton weft, so that the silk floats do not touch the skin. This was developed for the Muslim nobility who were forbidden to wear silk.
BEAD WORK Elaborate patterns are created, using fine glass beads to cover the surface of fabric, and also to create elaborate jewellery.
BHUJODI AND DHABLA – woven wool Weavers of Bhujodi are known for the extra weft patterned woollen shawls, woven on a pitloom in natural shades of black and white, worn by the Ahir and Rabari men. The special feature of the dhablas is that the weft is divided in three parts. The border weft in black is interlaced with the ground weft in natural white wool, creating a temple design on either sides of the striped body.
QUILTING – appliqué , patchwork, block print , tie dye Appliqué and patchwork were practiced traditionally to recycle old pieces of cloth by patching them together to make quilts, canopies, hangings and other decorative items, forming an important dowry item. Different patterned fabrics of Gujarat, like mashru, ajrakh, bandhani, are selectively used to form the base fabric, and colourful pieces of fabric are patched onto them to create various motifs. Both direct and reverse appliqué are practiced widely.
TANCHOI Tanchoi silks are the traditional silk saris woven in Surat, typically woven on a double coloured warp, with multiple colours in the weft.
MATA NI PACHEDI – Block printed and painted ritual cloth Mata ni pachedi is a block printed and painted ritual cloth, using natural dyes in red and black, made by a small community in Ahmedabad and Kheda district. The pachedis have a strong visual identity, and their main feature is the presence of the mother goddess in her various forms.
MAHESHWARI AND CHANDERI – Woven Saris The saris are characterized by their simplicity, with the warp in silk and weft in cotton. These light weight saris are woven mostly in subtle hues, with ornate zari borders.
TUSSAR/KOSA WILD SILK – Spinning and weaving The hand spun, tussar silk produced in Madhya Pradesh, is known by its Sanskrit name 'kosa'. Raigarh and Champa are important centres for tussar silk sarees and fabrics.
BAGH – Block prints The printed textiles created by a community of printers called 'Chheepa', using vegetable and natural dyes. The woven blocks used for printing are carved in intricately stylized motifs.
BASTAR – Dyed extra weft 3 shuttle weaving The tribal textiles of Bastar are woven in heavy, natural dyed cotton, using the 3 shuttle weaving technique and pattern created by the extra weft technique.
HAND WOVEN COTTON SARIS Along with wild silk or kosa weaving, the tribals of Chattisgarh also weave heavy cotton saris for local use.
CROCHET AND LACE WORK Needlework, crochet, tatting and lace making were introduced by the nuns of the Santa Monica Church and Convent in Old Goa, giving livelihood to large number of women in the region.
COTTON SARIS The Kunbi saris, are the traditional attire of the Kunbi tribe of Goa. Traditionally, these cotton saris were dyed in red and black and woven in small and large checks.
KHADI | Handspun and handwoven Weavers of Bihar are known to weave the finest quality of hand spun khadi fabrics.
TUSSAR, GHICHA, WILD SILK | Spinning and weaving One of the foremost regions in production of wild silks, craft clusters across the state are involved in hand-spinning and handloom weaving of textured silks like Tussar, Ghicha, Ketia, etc.
SUJUNI | Embroidered quilts It is characterized by running stitch embroidery on layered cloth. Fine running stitches cover the base cloth onto which women embroider narratives from their day-to-day lives.
KHATWA | Appliquéd textiles A traditional appliqué, where used fabrics are cut and stitched to create the base cloth. Traditionally flora and fauna of the surrounding were depicted by the women who practiced this craft in their leisure hours.
COTTON SARIS A variety of handwoven saris were woven by local weavers for the indigenous communities of this region.
JAMDANI | Fine woven patterns on muslin Famed as the finest of Muslins ever produced, Jamdani has been traditionally woven by the weavers of West Bengal and Bangladesh. An extremely labour intensive process of handloom weaving, Jamdani involves weaving patterns onto the base cloth using only hand insertion of the weft yarn.
KHADI | Handspun and handwoven Exquisite hand spun yarns and handwoven textiles have been produced and used by the people of Bengal since a very early time.
KANTHA | Running stitch embroidery/quilting A craft practiced by both Hindus and Muslims, Kantha involves adorning used cloth surfaces using various forms of running stitches. Geometric patterns, motifs influenced by the flora and fauna and activities of their daily lives were embroidered on the quilts.
BALUCHAR | Woven silk saris Baluchari saris are intricately patterned silk saris woven on a Jacquard loom, earlier a jala loom where patterns were created by manually lifting the select warp threads. A distinct feature of this craft is the depiction of mythological scenes on the border and pallav.
GAMOCHA | Mekhala-Chador A white rectangular piece of textile, primarily with a ornamental red border and motifs, the Gamocha is indigenously woven in Assam and forms part of items of daily use. The Mekhala-Chador is the traditional dress worn by the women of Assam. The Mekhala is a sarong which is wrapped around the waist while the Chador forms a draped blouse.
BACK-STRAP LOOM WEAVING The back strap or loin loom is probably the oldest device for weaving, where one end of the warp is tied to a post or door and the other end is fixed to a stick which is held by straps going behind the back of the weaver. Primarily, women are involved in the weaving practice.
ERI SILK SPINNING AND WEAVING Eri, an indigenous golden silk fibre produced by silkworms, which are mostly reared indoors. Also referred to as ahimsa silk,Eri is handspun and woven into fabric.
LAC DYES Lac is the scarlet resinous secretion of lac insects, Carteria laca which thrives on the sap of select plants. It takes thousands of insects to create a few grams of lac dye.
WOVEN TEXTILES Handloom weaving is one of the most important crafts of the state of Tripura. The items of daily clothing are woven on traditional loin looms, having characteristic vertical and horizontal stripes. Some textiles are also adorned with scattered motifs, unique to each tribe of the region.
JYMPHONG A traditional ceremonial dress of the male members of the Khasi tribe, Jymphong is a long sleeveless and collarless coat often paired with an ornamental waistband.
MEKHALA SHAWL The Naga shawl is the most important part of traditional Naga clothing. Each tribe has its own pattern and composition vocabulary. The type of shawl might also uphold the status or a certain achievement of the wearer. Primarily, the patterns are bold, striking and geometric and include a multitude of stripes. Red, black and white are the commonly used colours.
MUSLIN WEAVING Fine quality indigenous weaving for local use.
PUTTUPUKA, KOAYALAGUDEM – COTTON IKAT TEXTILES The saris have a warp based single ikat, where the warp is dyed to a predetermined pattern, mostly in symmetric geometric designs before weaving.
POCHAMPALLI – Silk Ikat saris The uniqueness of these saris lies in the creation of the striking geometric patterns first by resist dyeing the warp and weft threads, and then weaving these to reveal the patterns.
BANJARA EMBROIDERY Embroidery is intrinsic to the traditional costumes of the nomadic Banjara community. Traditionally, women embellished their clothes and accessories with a myriad of stitches using colourful threads, mirrors, cowrie shells.
DHURRIES – cotton, wool, inlay patterned Dhurrie weaving is an established cottage industry in Warangal, which produces the characteristic multicoloured dhurries, using the weft interlocking technique in geometric patterns.
LACE WORK Lace making is an ancient craft, which originated in Europe, and came to India with the missionaries. A lace fabric is lightweight, delicate, and is made by intertwining threads and, forming chains with the help of pins secured on a tightly stuffed cushion.
TELIA RUMAL – Yarn resist dyeing, ikats The Telia Rumals, are square handkerchiefs, made by resist dyeing the warp and weft thread prior to weaving, with geometric and figurative motifs in black, red and white. After dyeing,the yarns were treated in oil to give them a deeper shade of red thus imparting an oily texture and smell.
ERRAPATTI, KONDAPATTI –3 shuttle weave, fine handspun yarn The village of Ponduru is renowned for its long, unbroken tradition of making fine Khadi. Women spinners here use two varieties of short-stapled desi or indigenous cotton: called kondapatti, for fine, high quality yarn,and 'red' cotton called erapatti, for coarser yarn. This hand spun yarn is woven into fine fabrics on 3 shuttle looms.
GADWAL, UPPADA, NARAYANPET, VENKATGIRI – Cotton and silk wovens The Gadwal sari is an extremely fine sari, woven with a cotton ground and silk pallu. The Uppada saris are woven in cotton, with the traditional Jamdani weaving technique in rich patterns using gold and silver zari. The Narayanpeth saris have a body woven in checks of high contrast, offset by a border and pallu in intricate, traditional designs like the temple motifs. The Venkatgiri saris are fine silk saris woven on traditional pit looms, with beautiful zari designs.
CROCHET WORK Crochet lace is textile made from a single thread that is interloped by means of a hook in such a way that a new stitch in made by drawing thread through the previous stitch. Crochet lace craft was introduced in early 20th century by missionaries to women in West Godavari district, where it has since, proliferated.
KALAMKARI – hand painted cloth KALAMKARI refers to the mordant painted and dyeing traditions done with a kalam, a pen in figurative and narrative paintings used in temples.Traditional themes are depicted from the epics or Puranas,stories of gods.
BLOCK PRINTED TEXTILES Dye painted and printed Kalamkari textiles fabrics from the Coromandel Coast were renowned export goods.
MOLKALMARU, BANGALORE, DHARMAVARAM – Sericulture and silk weaving Karnataka is well known for its fine woven silk saris. Brocades woven in this region are influenced by the Kanjeevaram saris.
KHANN – Supplementary weft pattern The khan fabric used by the local communities for choli blouses is woven in cotton with small patterns created by supplementary silk weft.
BANJARA – embroidery The women of the Banjara, or Lambani community wear richly embroidered clothing. Silver, brass, gold, cowries, ivory, animal bone, mirrors and a wide range of stitches are used to embellish their garments.
KHOWDI – patchwork and quilting Women of various communities make khowdi, patch worked quilts, in a myriad of colours. The quilts are made using 3 to 6 layers of reused fabrics, held together by running stitches.
DHURRIE WEAVING The origins of the multi-coloured, stripped, cotton flat weave dhurrie called jamkalam, is linked to temple festivals, as temples required floor coverings for seating devotees. Woven on simple pit treadle looms,the dhurries are made in cotton and wool.
KANJEEVARAM/TEMPLE BROCADE SARIS – 3 shuttle silk weaving The vibrant 4 ply mulberry, brocade silk woven saris are characterized by the 3 shuttle weaving, creating bold contrast borders with extra warp patterns in gold thread.
SUNGADI – cotton and zari saris with bandhani The temple town of Madurai boasts of the traditional Sungudi saris. These were traditionally cotton saris, with single dot patterns, made by tying small dots on the fabric, and then dyeing the fabric in natural dyes.
CHETTINAD SARIS – cotton/silk weaves This cotton sari also known as "kandaangi", is unique in the dramatic and spontaneous use of colour and pattern with bold checks, and stripes with contrasting borders.
MADRAS CHECKS – fine cotton handloom woven lungis Madras checks are the lightweight cotton fabrics, woven in bold, striking checks. Traditionally worn as a lungi, the fabrics also became popular as shirting cloth for the export market.
KORA/KORAI – grass weaving Kora or Korai are extremely fine split grass mats, woven in Pattamadai. The fine splitting of the locally growing grass makes these mats soft and pliable. The designs are influenced by the traditions of sari weaving of the region.
KORA – grass weaving In Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, kora or sedge grass grows wild on river banks, beside ponds and water channels. The process of weaving is identical to Kora mat weaving in Pattamadai in Tamil Nadu. Coarser varieties of mats are woven here, with simple stripes created with dyed splits in combination with natural kora grass.
CONVENT EMBROIDERY Fine embroideries introduced by the missionaries.
SETT MUNDU – Cotton two piece drape Mundumneriyathum or set mundu is the traditional clothing of women in Kerela. This two piece drape is traditionally off white in colour, with coloured or zari stripes at the borders. The mundu forms the lower garment and the upper drape is called neriyathu.
FINE GRASS MAT – Tie dye Sedge grass, known as kora, grows profusely in Kerala`s marshy regions. The Kurava community use this grass to weave fine mats in a ribbed plain weave with motifs such as elephants, palm trees and flowers.
COARSER GRASS MAT Screwpine, a plant which also grow abundantly in Kerela is cut and peeled into thin strips that are dried in the sun and then diagonally plaited to create mats.
BANDHA – Cotton single and double ikat Yarn dyed, hand woven textiles of Orissa, known for their distinct geometric patterns.
BANDHA – tussar silk single ikat The single and double ikat saris are woven in many regions of Orissa, characterized with extra warp patterned borders.
BOMKAI SARI Bomkai or Sonepuri sari are usually woven in coarse yarn, with strong contrast borders, woven with 3 shuttles and feature ornate, extra weft patterned pallus.
KOTPAD SARI – Dyed, cotton, 3 shuttle weaving Known for their use of the natural red dye extracted from the roots of the Al tree. The stark simplicity is the main feature of these saris, with a play of the natural red, against an off white ground, and are woven on a three shuttle pit loom.