Applique Craft of Orissa

It’s not exactly a craft but a way of life for most residents of Pipili! The place lying adjacent to the national Highway from Bhubaneswar to Puri is famous world over for its applique work! Rows of shops in Pipli flaunt of appliqued handbags, bed sheets, wall hangings, purses, cushion covers, letter cases, pillow covers, canopies and garden umbrellas created by craftsmen of these villages!

The beautiful craft has been practiced in these parts of the world since ages. A visit to the quintessential village in Pipili and you can find men, women and even kids engrossed in this craft. Patronized by kings and nobles, this craft has evolved with time to reach heights of excellence.

So what is Applique?? Applique is actually a French term that refers to the art of superimposing patches of colored fabrics on a piece of basic fabric/cloth to give it an altogether a new look. Fragmented pieces of glass, metals, wires or woods are now a day’s used extensively while superimposition. This craft owes its origin to the Jagannath Culture of Puri and can be traced back to at least one thousand years. The appliqu© products prepared then were used exclusively in the religious ceremonies of the Lord Jagannath. However with times, the products and even the styles of making applique products have evolved. Craftsmen of Orissa today make whole range of applique products like wall hangings, umbrellas and even cushion covers.

There is a well set format that the craftsmen follow to make the Appliques. After selecting the base material which is customarily square, rectangular or circular, Applique motifs in contrasting colors are cut. Mostly in red, purple, black, yellow, green and white color, the motifs are cut in the shape of animals, birds, flowers, and gods. . These are then stitched on the base material in aesthetic arrangements to give it a completely new look. While the motifs give a lively look to the entire arrangement, it’s the stitches and delicate embroidery that makes them eye catching.

As has been mentioned earlier this craft, generally involve the entire craftsman family. Work is thus divided among the family members on the basis of their skill. Generally the more skillful counterparts go for making the motifs and the design while the less experienced take up simple works like making the base cloth and stitching the base borders.

A vivid expression of the tradition of Orissa, applique works toady form one of the most exported items of handicrafts from Orissa. And as mark of encouragement, the government recognizes this as a cottage industry in Orissa!