Sujani was once a favorite pass time for the women in the households of Bihar, India. The women for their personal and household needs practiced this art in groups. Any occasion – birth, religious ritual, wedding etc.., the women’s talent can be seen in the stitching. Its origin can be traced back to 1920s. However, few say that it is even older. “Su” means facilitating and “jani” means birth. Traditionally, Sujani craft was used for making quilts for the new born. Quilts were made by stitching together the old cloth pieces from dhotis and sarees and then the Sujani embroidery was made by stitching colorful patterns on them.
The easily available cloth material can be used as the base fabric. The motifs or patterns are then traced down on the fabric. The background for the patterns is then drawn by the running stitch. Finally, with a black or brown thread, the motifs are outlined. Colorful threads are used to fill in the motifs. The practice of stitching together the pieces of old cloth is all said to be connected to the ancient beliefs. They say that stitching these pieces together will invoke the deity, “Chitiriya Maa” – Lady of the Tatters. It also means that all parts in this world belongs to the whole and must return to it. The other purpose is to wrap the new born to provide the warmth of a mother’s embrace.
In some Sujani embroidery, the women etched their sorrow, life style, family issues, importance of girl child’s education, health care etc. Thus, Sujani gives the women a chance to record their views and voice in silence.
The Sujani embroiderers used running stitches to make motifs of deities, flowers, sun, moon, peacock etc.., Patterns like that of sacred animals or symbol of fertility are designed so as to get the blessings of God. Color Red stands for vitality and yellow for sun. In clothing, Indian ethnic outfits such as sarees, kurtas, duppatas. In home décor, cushion covers, bedspreads and wall hangings.
Both Kantha and Sujani embroideries look similar. Difference in the use of colors, motifs an them differentiate them. In kantha the stitch can be in any direction of fabric but, in Sujani it should always be in straight lines. Further, Sujani embroidery is done only on the cream-colored fabric with motifs outlined by black or brown thread colors.
Though the birthplace of this craft is Bihar, in the present days many traditional villages across India including southern parts of Rajasthan have adopted this embroidery technique. The passionate hearts are working across the country to spread this beautiful craft all over..