Appliqué exists among most communities and parts of India. Barmer applique from Rajasthan is one of them and is known for its vibrant and unique aesthetic. The efforts of several generations led to the gradual emergence of the Barmer traditional handicraft-making technique, which has managed to preserve its religious and cultural values while also exhibiting a unique beauty and usefulness.

The craft is thought to have originated in the West, travelled to what is now Pakistan, and then to India as a result of large-scale migration in 1947, during India’s division. Following the partition, the artisans relocated to Chohtan village in the Barmer District, and for their livelihood, they started appliqué work.

The art of appliqué work is being passed from generation to generation, which helps to keep alive the beauty of the traditional craft. For many embroidery styles, mastery of craftwork depends on keen eyesight. By middle age, women can no longer see as well, and they naturally turn their skills and repertoire of patterns to patchwork, a tradition that was originally devised to make use of old fabric

Kataab, which is a local name for appliqué, is an age-old technique that basically ornaments leftover fabrics. First, a design of the desired size is made on paper, which actually looks like a technical design since it is mostly geometrical and done with precision. Tools, such as a ruler and compass, are needed for making these patterns, which require an understanding of geometry.

It is then traced using tracing paper, and holes are punched all the way around the design. Then the design is transferred onto the fabric with the help of water-erasable ink, which then follows the cutting of the fabric. According to the design, the fabric is folded or layered, and the patterns are carved out with the help of a chisel and hammer.

When the foundational block of design is prepared, an equal piece of fabric is taken as a base fabric and another as a pattern, which is later appliquéd to it. The pattern is then positioned and pasted on the background of the base fabric with the help of glue (lai). In the local dialect, it is made by mixing wheat flour, gum, and water. As per the design required, different colors of fabric are used. Sometimes the cuttings are in contrast to the base fabric. Sometimes the same color is used for the base and pattern.

Until this point, men undertake the initial stages of the process and subsequently pass it over to women for the sewing tasks. Women then complete this during their leisure time while doing household chores.
That’s a wonderful aspect of traditional crafts! Sharing the labor among family members can strengthen bonds and create a sense of unity and shared purpose. It also helps preserve and pass down valuable skills and knowledge through generations.

 Using a blind stitch, the pattern is meticulously sewn onto the background fabric. The stitching commences with patching the background and then eventually the foreground. The product is given final finishing touches; any extra threads are cut, and edges are smoothed.

Injiri has infused bright colors in the craft technique, which justifies the region where this craft comes from. The confluence of different textiles adds depth and liveliness to the craft and creates a beautiful rhythmic contrast.