If you ever go to Bhubaneswar (capital of the Indian state of Odisha), do make it a point to drop at Pipili, also known as Pipli. Located 36kms from Puri and 20 kms from Bhubaneswar, this small picturesque village is situated on the main road connecting Puri to Bhubaneswar. The region is known for its stunning appliqué work called Chandua. Almost every family of the town is engaged in the Pipli craft and earns its living through it. The appliqué work technique of cutting the fabrics and stitching onto the bigger ones is standard. The Pipili distinction involves embroidering and mirror work to form the designs on Chandua. Its historical origin and the elaborate way of projecting the religion, tradition, & the customs of Orissa impart Chandua a touch of rich Indian legacy.
The creative glory of Pipili goes back to 1054 in the 12th century. The then king of Puri, Maharaja Birakshore appointed local tailors called Darji to supply stitched fabrics and utilities regularly to the Lord Jagannath Temple for its daily rites called Seva. The tailors thus serving the temple were called Sevaks. Besides the production of blankets, apparels, beddings, bags, etc., these tailors created breathtaking art pieces with the leftover fabrics. This was the inception of the traditional Pipili art form of Orissa called Chandua.
Initially, Chandua was confined to festoons, banners, umbrellas, and blinds only. With time, the art flourished and engaged different platforms. The Pipli work started to appear on bedspreads, wall hangings, ladies purses, lampshades, cushion covers, and several other display items. Of these lampshades, umbrellas, and wall hangings have secured a special following among the art lovers. Presently, anyone in Pipili and Puri, irrespective of the caste practices the Oriya patchwork or Chandua. The appliqué work handicrafts are visually emphatic during the religious processions of Lord Jagannath. Today, the Chandua art has transcended the boundaries of monastic houses and has become a great attraction among the tourists too.
The basic fabric used for Pipli appliqué work is thick cotton in a primary color. An interesting amalgamation of colored fabrics is the characteristic palette of Chandua. Ribbons, laces, and colorful threads & mirrors are used as embellishments together with the appliqué pieces to give the Chandua pieces increased decorative appeal. The stitches and embroidered patterns created with the fabrics resemble oriental flowers, birds, geometrical patterns, and the traditional Oriya motifs. The embellishments and the juxtaposition of colorful fabric cuttings team up pleasingly to highlight the folklores, mythological stories, dances, and the customs of Orissa.