Pipli in Orissa:
The famous town of Pipli in Orissa, halfway between Bhubaneswar and Puri, is known for its exquisite applique work. An enchanting form of fabric based patchwork, well known for its geometric motifs and stylized birds, animals and flowers cut out of brightly coloured cloth and sewn on contrasting backgrounds.
The income of this town is essentially dependent on the sale of its handicrafts of which the appliqué work is the main source.
The typical traditional motifs are varied yet fixed in their colours and representations. Motifs ranging from geometric, abstract, schematized actual life forms to stylized versions of social, natural, asteral and mythological characters and objects. The following slides take you through some of the colourful applique work designs.
On the main road at Pipili there are many shops selling Applique work products, tourist visiting Puri buy these products from Pipili. Each and every family of the village engaged themselves in this applique craft. Most of the people of the village depend on this applique craft for their day to day life.
The French term ‘Applique’ translates to ‘to apply’ and is explanatory of the technique of the age-old craft. Applique in textiles and ceramics is the technique of superimposing embellishments, such as small pieces of fabric and round mirrors, onto a large base fabric is usually known as “Chandua”.
The craft of applique is held in high esteem at Pipli, Odisha. The craft of applique is also prominent in the states of Bihar and Rajasthan.
Pipli Appliqué formed the backbone of Orissa’s craft industry initially but over the years they had fallen into decline until recently it found its way back to popularity by catering to a wider array of customer needs. Usually casement, suede and velvet goes in the making of Pipli appliqués with women acting as the main designers of the work while the men merely involving themselves in the cutting of the cloth stylistically.
Many products are doled out by this small town. The streets are kaleidoscope of colors; choc-a-bloc of Trasa banners, Chandua-canopies, Chhattri-umbrellas, animal puppets, wall hangings, covers for shrines, parasols, bags, pouches, cushion covers and lanterns.
Samiana or canopies and chhattri/umbrellas carry the most appliqué techniques of the utmost artistic skills. These crafts are mostly inherited, comes down from family to family. Pipli applique technique mostly uses cut patches of cloth which are then designed usually in flower, birds and animal patterns. They then are sewn into bedcovers, cushions, lamp shades, etc. The colors that are usually used are the four primary colors: black, white, red and yellow but over time other colors have been introduced to enliven the craft.
However, it is the applique from Pipli that is held in highest regard, as it is where the Indian traditions of the age-old art originated. Today, Pipli is globally known as the centre of Indian applique and is where many artisans and workshops continue to practise the long established technique, creating both traditional and contemporary items.