Sujni: Traditional Embroidary From Bihar
Sujuni, is a traditional craft of Bihar. It is made by women and depicts the animal, bird and day to day activities of village life. It is technically done by straight running stitch embroidery on layered cotton.Women quilt together old sari and other pieces of cloth with tiny running stitches,and embroider these beautifully. The product is a quilt-cum-bedspread,sometimes stuffed with tattered cloth to give it added thickness. Sujuni is labour intensive-the number of stitches per square inch varies from 105-210. A fine running stitch all over the sheet in the same colour as the base cloth creates the background upon which motifs are outlined in chain stitch. The design is then filled in with tiny rumming stitches in coloured thread. An age-old practice among women in almost all parts of the country, what makes sujuni remarkable is the unique narrative elements in its embroidery. Women stitch their experience, their sorrows and their realities on the sujuni,transforming a mundane quilt into a testimony of their lives. Each sujuni tells a tale-the trauma of being a woman in a man`s world,domestic violence, female infanticide, effects of alcoholism and gambling on a family and similar issues.Social concerns like evils of dowry, education of girls, lessons in health-care and AIDS are also depicted. Thus each sujuni becomes a testament of personal trials or of social change.
Old sujunis had motifs from religion,nature and daily life.The shift in narrative themes is recent,after voluntary organizations encouraged women to stitch their lives, so to say, on the sujunis. Efforts by concerned agencies to contemporize sujuni have struck gold-not only has a product diversification been achieved, sujuni had also entered the international market,like Busra,an important productin cluster in Muzaffarpur, sujuni has changed the story of many a woman`s life.