Artifacts of cotton cloth excavated from the Indus valley civilization indicate that the art of dyeing cloth was well known about 5000 years ago. There is mention in historical texts from the time of Alexander about the vibrant coloured cloth from the Indian subcontinent. The Khatri community in Gujarat has traditionally been involved in the making of Bandhani. They migrated from Sindh region about 400 years ago. A lot of other communities have also adopted the process of Bandhani tie and dye.
Place and People:
Earlier all processes involved in Bandhani were carried out by the members of a family. The women did the tying and the men did the dyeing. Now, the work is distributed to people outside of the household. Many social groups are involved with traditional Bandhani production.
The important centres of excellence for Bandhani are Jamnagar (Saurashtra), noted for the production of bright red cloth; Bhuj (Kutch), producing the finest knots; and Ahmedabad(Gujarat), which is a major centre of textile production, along with many centres in Rajasthan.
Ali Mohammad Khatri shares a story of how the Bandhani technique of dyeing came about. In the days of yoredyers only knew how to dye cloth in one colour, without any embellishments or motifs. One day, a fakir visited one such dyer asking for alms. While the dyer went to fetch some food and money, the fakir tied a knot in the cloth that his host was about to dye. The dyer unaware of the knot went ahead and dyed the cloth as he would normally do. After the dyed cloth dried, he noticed the knot and opened it to find an interesting pattern on the cloth. This gave him the idea of tie and dye. Thus the technique of tie and dye Bandhani is believed to be a divine gift by that fakir.