Leheriya: A Story of Traditional Fabric of Rajasthan

Leheriya: A Story of Traditional Fabric of Rajasthan

In the middle of the deserted pavilion, a gathering initiates... velvet carpets adorn the desert land while the sky paints dashing pictures. Manganiyars play folk tunes filled with excitement to remark the beginning of the occasion. A gala day organized by the King of Rajasthan for performers of all sorts - storytellers, dancers, musicians, puppeteers & more from different states. 

Day one was all about crafts & their storytellers who came in their full confidence. Escorted by the troops of horses and elephants wearing elegant textiles one after the other, storytellers were entering the Durbar gracing in finest Angrakhas paired with blazing jewelry and headgear. Amidst the gathering shows a storyteller from Jaipur, distinct from the rest owing to his composure and brightly colored attire. 

Storytellers came one by one, narrated their stories & went. But the gathering had their eyes & ears stuck on the one. As he started walking towards the center stage, sand dunes changing with his every step, making every eye hypnotized and whispers echoing from every corner. 

Standing out like a white crane amidst a calm river, the shimmering afternoon background highlighting his bright pink headgear, the storyteller from Jaipur stood out even in front of the brightest jewels. A mesmerizing wave passed through everyone present there, even the King was captivated by his impeccable fedora.

Leheriya Safa

“Let’s begin,” said the King as a collective curiosity ran among the mass. With an anticipatory look, the audience turned to the storyteller of Jaipur as he began sharing his story. 

“I come from a region where colors are deep-rooted in the culture and the love for color is so profounded that each household is painted in the color that represents the city.

“People living in such a city must have a colorful mindset”, said a man from the audience.

The storyteller continues, “Absolutely! My city is painted in the shade of hospitality & each part of the city speaks its own story. You can see men wearing colorful headgear while women deck up in vivid odhni or sarees against the Pink heritage & architecture.”. 

“Different colors have become an integral part of our rich heritage and identity for several communities like the Kevat community wears a turban of red Bandhani, whereas Jat community wears a turban of bright yellow color.”

Leheriya Fabric Outfits

He now lifts up his headgear to drive everyone’s attention to it & continues “Take a look at Leheriya. This unique pattern & color is one of the many craft stories my region boasts about. Derived from the word ‘Leher’ which means a wave, be it the oceans or the sand dunes of the desert.  In contrast with the region's dry desert scenery, the fabric is often painted in vibrant, eye-catching colors”. 

“While we men carry this elegant craft through Pagdhis or safa, women wear leheriya sarees, dupattas, and various other outfits”. 

The King asked, “So, how do you make these beautiful yet abstract stripes?”

“Leheriya is a kind of tie-dye technique that creates these diagonal stripes. First, the is made moderately moist & then tied at intervals. It requires Khilli, to tie the knots, further the wet threads usually nylon, cotton, silk, polyester, and jute are used as wires to tie the fabric”.

“The fabric is then washed to remove any impurities or starch. The fabric is then put into a mixture of dyed powder and water and processed manually in a circular motion which is done for about an hour until the color is seep deep into the fabric. Further, the cloth is twisted and beaten continuously to a stone platform and twisted tightly to remove the excess water. With the completion of this step, the fabric is then put under the sunlight to dry. As the fabric dries the knots are untied… But the tied areas are left without dye, & there you have leheriya”. 

Leheriya colors

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