Though ‘Appliqué’, is a French term, appliqué work in Orissa also originated as a temple art. A technique by which the decorative effect is obtained by superposing patches of coloured fabrics on a basic fabric, the edges of the patches being sewn in some form of stitchery.
The artisans of Pipli – a village 40 km from Puri on the Bhubaneswar-Puri route have their mastery in applique art, now decorates homes in various parts of the world. Besides Puri, appliqué work is also practised to some extent in Chitki, Barpali, and a couple of other places.
Coloured cloth, after being cut and shaped into the forms of birds, animals, flowers, leaves, and other decorative motifs is stitched onto a cloth piece designed as a wall hanging, garden or beach umbrella, a lamp shade and other utility items. Tiny mirrors in a whole range of geometrical shapes and designs are then encapsulated by thread embroidery to create a striking work of art. Four basic traditional colours- red, yellow, white , Blue and black are used, while green has been added in comparatively recent times. Saris and other attires are designed with appliqué work is gaining popularity in international market.
Though the form is not unknown in other parts of India, it is Orissa and specially in Pipli the craft has a living and active tradition continuing over centuries.