A country’s traditional art, craft heritage and craftsmanship are symbolized through the handicrafts of the nation. India’s rich cultural ethnicity and its unique form amidst various cultures and societies have been fabulously presented in the form of craft also. These handicrafts are made by hand using simple tools and technology that usually appear in artistic and traditional forms. In this case, the Indian handicraft industry has evolved immensely and has brought a major contribution to the nation’s economy by generating several employment opportunities. One among such crafts that are of low capital investment yet unique in design patterns that forms the most distinctive and attractive handicrafts which lead on to the major strength of Indian craft tradition is ‘applique work’ of Orissa.
The word ‘applique’ is a French verb that translates the term as ‘to apply’. It is an age-old technique in which all the small embellishments are superimposed onto the larger surface article. This technique of superimposing the embellishments was utilized well during 1965, which was intended to be a modern-day Bayeux tapestry. For centuries it has also become a part of religious tradition in India. It holds remarkable prominence in other countries like Pakistan, China, Benin and Egypt too.
Applique works are prepared by craftsmen through sewing and by using zigzag machines to export the final product. These are the most decorative items used for beautifying walls, covering instruments, household articles, luxurious goods etc. These are handmade designer products, thus it has high demand in the market. Nowadays the craftsman from different parts of Orissa also prepares various items using this technique like screen cover, TV cover, computer cover etc. The kind of cloth used for preparing the applique work depends on the craftsmen and differs from region to region. Some of the varieties of clothes that are used for applique work are cotton, tericot, polyester, silk and velvet.
Being one of the largest states of India in terms of generating the number of handicraft artisans, Orissa produces the world’s acclaimed unique handmade goods. These handicrafts are exported to several other countries like Australia, Canada, France, Germany and etc, which have highly contributed to terms of the state’s economy. Hence in this competitive world, as globalization has produced varieties of responses in the lea of culture, the Indian folk creation like applique work has come out in a form like applique umbrellas.
The applique works that have an age-old history are noted in the literature that the applique work products were used in Lord Jagannath temples for decoration purposes since 1054A.D on different occasions throughout the state. The usual motifs of applique work are flowers, animals, geometrical shapes, sometimes the mythological figures etc. The inspiration for these motifs is usually from nature. It is an art form that is generally dependent on four basic colours black, white, red and yellow which produces a striking effect.