Tie Dye History

Tie dye history is about Bandhani, Shibori, and Adire art forms from Indian, Japanese, and African cultures. These traditional art forms still exist today.

The history of tie dye is part of Clothing History and Dye History. When was tie dye invented is uncertain because artifacts are rare.

Tie Dye Art Form

Art may have started as designs on cave walls, but eventually it included designs on clothing. For most of human history, art and clothing has been produced locally using local materials and traditions.

Transportation and communication extended local traditions. Who invented tie dye is uncertain, but India, Japan and Africa are most prominent in written tie dye histories.

Indian BandhaniTie_Dye History Bandhani Fabrics

Bandhani is the oldest known tie dye tradition still practiced. Designs are made by plucking and tying many small points with thread before dyeing. It’s also known as Bandhni, Bandhej, and Plangi.

Bandhani dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization in the Bronze age (3300 BC-1200 BC). The earliest illustrations are paintings on Ajanta Cave walls depicting the life of Buddha.

Japanese Shibori

Japanese ShiboriShibori is the second oldest known tie dye tradition still practiced. Designs are made using several techniques.

DIY Shibori - Honestly WTF includes a beautiful tutorial with pictures for these Shibori techniques.
  1. Itajime shaped resist
  2. Arashi pole wrap resist
  3. Kumo pleated and bound resist

Shibori dates back to the Edo period in Japan (1603 AD-1868 AD)

African Adire 

African Adire Adire is the third oldest known tie dye tradition still practiced.

Google Arts and Culture has a pictorial Adire: the Art of Tie and Dye that is beautiful.

LoveToKnow has the best  Adire Fashion History summary I've seen.

Other Cultures

Most cultures experimented with art and bindings to create designs with dyes on clothing. Some say the earliest surviving examples of tie dye are pre-Columbian alpaca from Peru and silk from China.