Traditional applique of Pipli

Handicraft

The village of Pipli, situated between Puri and Bhubaneswar, is famous for its applique work.

artistic Applique work Photo by Dilip Banerjee

Popular in ancient Orissa, applique is the art of cutting coloured cloth into various shapes and stitching them over a piece of cloth.

These creations are then fabricated into lampshades, handbags, cushion covers and even garden umbrellas. A famous example of Pipli work is the enormous appliqué canopy above the reigning deity of Puri, Lord Jagannath. Patronised by kings in its early phase, the traditional applique work of Pipli has now reached new heights, blending itself with modernity over time.

The method of making this applique work is simple and traditional. Different types of motifs are made from separate pieces of cloth and superimposed on the basic piece of fabric in predetermined layout and design. The edges of the motifs are stitched skillfully on the background material. It is the intelligent combination of vibrant colours, matched with exquisite mirror work, that makes this traditional patchwork undoubtedly exclusive.

The motifs usually vary from flora and fauna to mythical figures. The common ones are the figures of elephants, parrots, peacocks, dancing girls, etc. Very bright colours are chosen to make these motifs striking in appearance.

A master craftsman usually applies six types of stitching patterns — bakhia, ganthi, taropa, chikana, button-hole and run-stitch. Items of daily use, made of applique, are much cheaper as compared to other crafts. Colourful bedspreads, and cushion covers in applique are produced on a large scale to meet the growing demand.

Truly remarkable for its variety of style and design, yet simple in appearance, Pipli has become a treasure trove for souvenir collectors.

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