Art, Homedecor

There is more to Bihar – Khatwa Work

Bihar, one of the central states of India as we know it, is mainly famous for its Madhubani art work and farmlands, luscious green along the banks of River Ganga. But, one hidden art form belonging to this culture is that of the ‘Appliqué work’ as we modernists call it. This appliqué work is known as ‘Khatwa’ in Bihar, a traditional cloth weaving technique which requires the skills of both men and women.

(Courtesy: Strands of India)

Appliqué is a French word which means ‘To Apply’. This technique is basically applying one fabric on to another to make beautiful patterns and motifs. The locals of this region have been applying this technique to beautify their tents where in they reside and make their town look like an arena of colours and patterns. When modern houses took shape, the people definitely did not leave their culture behind. From such times onwards floor cloth works, decorative wall hangings, shamianas (meaning tents), beautiful bed spreads are curated by these artisans.

(Courtesy: Strands of India)

(Courtesy: India Art Works)

The material used for making these appliqué work arts is basically the local cloths that are available. The background is generally of a lighter colour like white, cream or lemon yellow , and even black is used widely. The motifs and designs curated by the women are of various themes. It ranges from simple symmetrical designs to geometric and flower motifs. Also, figures are made with this patch work and it tells a story through the activities of the figures.

(Courtesy: IndiaCrafts)

(Courtesy: Pinterest)

Also, this technique is known to be derived from the recycling of old fabrics by sewing different fabrics to create one piece, they are quite distinguishable. There is no restriction to the type of fabrics used in the creation of appliqué items, and may even be of varying textures. This work is sub-divided into two techniques. The simple ‘play by ear’ technique consists of the open use of an assortment of materials of various shapes and sizes, stitched together without much preparation. The more complex technique involves thorough planning of the design before any work is done with the materials. Most often the former technique is used by the artisans.

(Courtesy: Bihar art)


(Courtesy: Strands of India)

To make it look more artistic and stunning, little round and square shaped mirrors are embellished in the cloth. This makes it look stunning and it shines brightly under the effect of sunlight. At night, the illumination by the faint moon light also makes the art work look gorgeous. This form is now not only a part of Bihar’s traditions, but also followed in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. With a palette full of bright colours and such pretty little embellishments, this patch work art is definitely worth a spot on your wall

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