Applique Craft of Odisha

Origin: Applique work, a french word for “to apply”, is a technique of textile embellishment where one piece of cloth is superimposed on another fabric. Although applique has been used all over the world, in Odisha, the western state of India, applique grew into a characteristic style called Pipli applique.

Pipli applique, called so because of it’s origin from the village of Pipli, is situated 40 KMs off the town Puri in Odisha. It is said that kings of Puri needed craftsmen to create all kinds of applique cloth to be used to religious ceremonies in honour of  Lord Jagannath, thus they set up a village for these craftsmen. It would not be wrong to call people of Pipli, the artists of Lord Jagannath. Lord Jagannath is considered a form of Lord Vishnu (the preserver in the Hindu trinity), along with his sister Subhadra and his brother Balabhadra. In Vaishnavism (followers of Vishnu), the Temple of Jagannath has prime importance, it is considered one of their Char-dham (Char means 4 and char-dham means one of 4 cardinal pilgrimage sites of India). 

The temple itself is huge with a height of 200 feet and has attracted worshippers for more than 2800 years, festivals like Chariot festival procession (Rath-yatras) or Bathing festival procession (Snana Yatra) are almost as old. These festival chariots, worshippers and most importantly Lords Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra have all been adorned with applique work coming from Pipli. Pipli applique items for Puri Temple include garbs for the gods, tree tiered cloth lampshades, cloth umbrellas, canvas cloth, decorative fabrics  canopies for the Rath-yatra procession: The chariot of Balabhadra has applique in bright green and red, while chariot Subhadra has applique work in bright red and black and finally Lord Jagannath’s chariot canopy is in yellow and red.

Present Day: Although Pipli applique work has it origins in 12th century India and Pipli applique is still being used primarily for Jagannath Temple celebrations, we can see now this art form branching out to more modern needs. The majority of employment of Pipli and Puri comes through the applique trade where men and women work together to stitch beautiful fabrics with motifs like traditional Sun god,Rahu (demon who eats the sun which cause eclipses as per Hindu beliefs), Chandra (moon god), or Lord Jagannath himself to now having more stylised version of flowers and animals. Some of Pipli applique work that has really grabbed the market is the cloth lampshade, it is usually in 3 levels and in very bright colours, as well as the Pipli applique saree, a traditional dress Indian women wear.

Procedure: Applique means a way of putting patches of fabric on another fabric. The patch is relatively is more colorful and vibrant and is pasted or sewn over a basic solid color fabric. This technique brings out the beauty of the fabric. Mirrors with fabric is also common. The patches are also joined or stitched side by side. Artisans creating applique use stitches such as satin stitch, buttonhole stitch, blind stitch and finally the basic straight stitch. 

These handicrafts are exported by Craffi The Karigar all across the world and are frequently exhibited in Japan, France, Australia, USA and other countries. 

Bring Home Pipli Applique: You can pick up everyday items such as lampshades, bed linen, kitchen linen, furnishings or ceremonial cloth in Puri and Pipli. Pipli is the manufacturing center while Puri is an important selling point. You can also easily pick up these items You can buy these handicrafts in local market of Khallikote, Chitki, Barpali, Parlakhemundi, Boudh and in the capital of Bhubaneshwar, as this form of applique work has developed into a strong market need.  

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