Banjara Tribal Embroidery and Mirror Work of Telangana

Embroidery, Endangered/ Red List, Tribal Crafts

Banjara Tribal Embroidery and Mirror Work of Telangana

Banjara tribe can be recognized easily by their colorful dresses and jewelry. In 17th century during the reign of Aurangzeb, this tribe who once settled in North moved towards Deccan Plateau in South India.

Historically, Banjaras played a very important role everywhere they went. Their traditional clothing and other items include phetia/ skirt, kanchali/ blouse, odnis, khalchi, pouches and batwai/ a purse that are decorated with bold mirrors and applique work. Kanchali is a traditional backless blouse worn by the banjara women. Strings are attached at the back of the blouse to help fasten the blouse. Banjara embroidery of Telangana is different when compared to Kutch Banjaras or Gujarat Banjaras. Geometrical forms like diamonds, squares and triangles are created with great intricacy. The vibrant lifestyle of Banjaras is depicted by the use of colorful threads. Also beads, shells and mirrors are used to embellish articles. Wide use of mirrors throughout the embroidery create a remarkable appearance. Apart from the beautification of dress mirrors have a logical reason behind them. They acted as reflectors for animals and added in scaring them away.

Simple stitches like herringbone, relamakki/chain stitch, mallikkanta/chevron stitch and cross stitch are used to create various designs as well as figures. Silver, cowries, brass, coins, wooden tassels, animal bones and gold are also used for the embroidery. Mirrors are encircled by these stitches and beads and cowrie shells run through to form symbolic and decorative motifs. Running stitch is done creatively to develop interlaced patterns. Embroidery is done on blue or brown colored quilted cloth with either cotton or wool thread.Sewing machine along with needle and thread are basic requirements for Banjara embroidery.




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