AppliquÃ© is a French word which refers to stitching little pieces of cloth on another larger cloth to form patterns or decorations. This gives the cloth added beauty and appeal. In India appliquÃ© is used in many communities to form wonderfully colorful fabrics. The most widely known of all the Indian appliquÃ© work is the appliquÃ© from Orissa. In Pipli, Orissa you can find streets lined with shops selling colorful appliquÃ© work pieces from bags to umbrellas and other household articles.
# Centuries of Tradition
Pipli has been famous for centuries for its appliquÃ© work. The master craftsmen of Pipli have been doing their craft for 850 years. And there have been few changes done to the craft in the past few centuries. It is only in the past decade or more that the style of the craft has changed enough that we get so many types of household articles.
The craft of appliquÃ© in Pipli was actually done for Lord Jagannatha of Puri in olden times. Kings in the past set up the artisans in Pipli to make decorations for Lord Jagannatha. Â They live is a strict social structure with a headman. Traditional appliquÃ© work included Trasa, Chandua, Alata, Chhati, Bana and Adhoni traditions are used for the Dola Yatra of temples. They follow strict conventions set centuries ago for the service they do for the deities of the temple.
The artisans here in Pipli exclusively make the canvas cover for the Lord Jagannathaâ€™s Yatra. These cloth covers are made to a certain specification in color, design, and shape. The three chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra have particular combinations of colors which help to identify them to the masses of people who attend the Car Festival every year even from a distance. They also make appliquÃ© seats, covers and pillows for the deities.
# The Actual Working
The base cloth is first made ready and a design planned for it. The artisan and his family cut out figures of animals, plants, flowers, geometric patterns and sun and moon patterns in cloth. The cloth designs cut out are then stitched onto the cloth in a particular pattern to form beautiful designs. The stitching can vary from simple tacking to fancy bakhia, chikan, turpa, and guntha stitching.Â The embroidery can be very fancy or simple. They also attach mirror work and metals to make it even more attractive. The base cloth edges are finally stitched with a border. The work is a family affair, with the complex work being done by experienced members and the simple borders being done by the beginners.
# Many Items for Sale
We can buy colorful items made using this technique of appliquÃ© in Pipli. The traditional craftsmen called Darjis now make useful household items like bags, wall hangings, cushion covers, bed sheets, lampshades, and other items. The latest items being done by the artisans of Pipli is outdoors Umbrellas and appliquÃ© work on grass mats that can be used as partitions.
They also make batua which is a bag to carry betel leaves and its associated paraphernalia and very popular in that region.