Pied piplis: An attraction for all

Pied piplis: An attraction for all

From Odisha

Odisha is home to an array of handicrafts. Everything from pattachitras and ganjifa art to sand art and ikat are found here, giving connoisseurs of art every reason to visit the place. One such art that mirrors the cultural exuberance of Odisha is pipli.

The art of pipli is applique work, where small pieces of cloth are artfully sewn on a basic piece of cloth. Originating in the small town of Pipli, which is around 40 km from Puri, this art form is the backbone of this town’s economy, along with the many handicrafts it is proudly associated with.

The Pipli art of applique that enjoyed royal patronage in its early phase is a big hit even now, owing to the modern twist it has taken.

Though applique is a French technique that means stitching up small pieces of cloth on a foundation cloth, the craftsmen of Pipli have taken this technique a step further and developed it into needlework, where materials like small mirrors and other forms of embroidery are also sewn onto a bigger piece of cloth to create attractive designs and patterns.

The same can be said about the colours used. While the traditional technique used only four colours — white, black, red and yellow — the craftsmen now use any and every colour available to make the artwork attractive.

The method of making this appliqué work is very simple, wherein different types of motifs are made from separate pieces of cloth and sewn on the basic piece of fabric in predetermined layout and design.

The motifs used vary from that of animal figures to mythical ones. The most commonly used motifs are figures of elephants, parrots, peacocks etc.

Stitching is done so skillfully on the background material that the stitches are not seen unless carefully examined. The patterns generally used are buttonhole, bakhia, ganthi, taropa, chikana and running stitch.

The intelligent combination of vibrant colours, matched with exquisite mirror work and workmanship makes pipli patchwork undoubtedly exclusive.

This craft is passed on from one generation to the next within Pipli, where women are the main designers, while men help them in the cutting of the cloth stylistically.

Till recently, craftsmen from Pipli generally made only umbrellas and hand fans that were used in Lord Jagannath Temple of Puri. However, with the passage of time, the popularity of this applique art spread far and wide, and they have now started making everything from lampshades and bed spreads to cushion covers and wall mounts, which are a huge hit with tourists. No wonder no tourist comes back from Odisha without a piece of pipli.