Chunari is a special technique of fabric dyeing practiced in Rajasthan
. It involves a combination of the tie-and-dye process and direct printing. The patterns are created by preventing specific portions of the cloth being affected by the dye.
The fabric is prepared for the dying process by dipping it in water containing equal parts of castor oil and saline earth. The fabric is repeatedly soaked in the solution and dried for about 10 to 15 times, and finally washed with clean water.
Wooden blocks containing designs are prepared. The designs are lined with nails. These wooden blocks are pressed against the fabric causing an imprint of designs to be created in a raised form due to the nails. The portions of the fabric, that stand out due to the nails, are tied with a string into knots and coated with a paste that prevents the percolation of a dye. The knots are removed after the fabric is dyed. The non-dyed portions created by the knots form the desired patterns on the cloth.
The dyes are prepared from natural substances. A solution of buttermilk and turmeric is used for producing yellow color. A mixture of indigo and turmeric gives green color. By soaking the cloth in a solution containing alum, indigo and turmeric for 3 days red color is imparted on it.
There are variations in this technique. In a particular style called ‘bhilwai,’ designs representing birds, animals and other motifs are created in pink, yellow and green shades set against a sober maroon or bright red background. In the ‘baran’ style, geometric patterns consisting of sets of small triangles and squares are created. The ‘beldar’ style consists of patterns made by flowing lines. The ‘sikari’ patterns, the most reputed of the lot, contains images of horses, tigers, elephants and humans.