TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Arrival: Banjara Patches at 10% Off!!!!

Older Banjara patch

Banjara needlework captured a place in my list of favorites many years ago. Often gaudy, the spontaneous flavor of color, shisha mirror work, and ornaments always speaks to me of joy and happiness. The Banjara are often referred to as the "gypsies" of India and some draw a historical connection with them to the Roma.

Red is often the color of choice for the Banjara.

Wikipedia did not have much info on the Banjara, but here is a bit on their origin:

"Banjaras originally belong to Rajasthan and they were Rajputs who migrated to southern parts of India for trade and agriculture. They settled down in the southern or central areal of the country and slowly loosened contacts with Rajasthan, and their original community.

Over a period of time both the communities separated and they adopted the local culture. The language spoken by Banjaras settled in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha, Maharashtra is an admixture of Hindi,Rajasthani and Marathi. The word "Banjara" itself means " the one who travels and dosent have their own Home" The Banjara are (together with the
Domba) sometimes called the "Gypsies of India".[2]"

I just got a batch of Banjara patches in and finished photographing them. I buy them directly from India from a woman who focuses on Banjara textiles. I thought I would offer them to all of you at 10% off before I start listing them on Etsy and eBay. I bought 40 of them and most are between 3-5" square. You will find them on my website with instructions on how to purchase. Prices range between $7.50 and $17.50, depending on size and workmanship. You won't get the dimensions with this offer as the discount is offered in exchange for my listing time.

Banjara Patch, $12.50 Rayela Art

Surya's Garden is working with Banjara women on an embroidery project. Visit their site for a description of their goals and for more information on the Banjara culture. Here is a snippet from their site which talks about Banjara embroidery:

"Signaling their ethnic membership, all Banjaras embroideries are designed for a nomadic life style and, while featuring geometric, floral and animal motifs used by a majority of India’s village peoples, Banjara embroidery design is strikingly different.

For dancing and ordinary ceremonial wear, women use traditional skirts, shawls and backless blouses generally made of commercial textiles, synthetic yarns and locally available mirrors and metal ornaments. The blouses usually are ornamented on the sleeves and fully embroidered with mirrors across the front. Embroidered flaps with metal ornaments are added to the blouses of married women. The shawls have embroidered borders along the top and bottom edges with a wider more elaborate strip of mirror embroidery at the center top that frames the face. The skirts, hanging low on the hips, are worn with the kodi sadak, a long rope of cowries; the waist bands are generally reinforced with sturdy embroidery, worked on a red quilted or twined ground.

Particularly fine pieces are made for prospective brides.
Banjara women throughout India wear elaborate twisted and braided hairdos that support and display jewelry and textiles; those styles are typical of Rajasthan. The traditional dress is completed with rows of ivory or bone bracelets, nowadays made of white plastic, worn on the arms, with silver bangles, nose gold ring (bhuria), beads or silver coins necklaces."

An older Banjara patch with shisha mirrors and cowrie shells.

I'm also gathering information on the Banjara on my other website, Artezano Links. I have a few videos posted and will add books and other resources over the next week.

Banjara embroidery incorporates dimensional objects like mirrors, coins, shells, beads, ric rac and anything else they can find. Some of the results can be on the gaudy side, but they can never be described as boring! Belly dancers covet these patches to decorate their outfits, but why should they have all the fun? These are great accents on jean jackets, bags, pillows, and incorporated into larger fiber art pieces.

Are you in love yet? Go take a look while they are still available! Again, here is the link. Once I start listing them, they will go quickly. But, I would much rather sell them directly to you, then to go through the hassle of listing each one! So, the 10% off is also a thank you! Enjoy!



  1. hey there Rayela - beautiful post. I finally got a new computer, so I can see your site without crashing my browser . . . very good news.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Magic! Mirrors are said to ward off the evil eye. Does it work? Some say that's superstition. I don't think so.

    Psychologists have found out that staring at a person for more than a few seconds causes a feeling of being menaced. Now if you wear something around your neck like an eye symbol, it distracts the glance and this way breaks the spell. The person looks at the ornament and becomes a harmless person.
    But what if you hang it up on your wall? The wall needs no protection. Instead, the charm has an opportunity to stare at you incessantly. And you are on the wrong side of the mirror.


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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