Artistic Triumph – Handmade in India
India, a treasure chest of art and handicraft; has earned worldwide reputation for its brilliant craftsmanship. Land of Taj Mahal, its diverse culture and heritage is entrenched in its geographies. Every nook and corner is full of neighbourhoods that act as a periscope to its unique potential. Some of these have been kept alive by the government with various fairs and festivals. Rest are facing a tough competition with the world of machines and the goods they produce per hour. Whether silk, jewellery, traditional artifacts, paintings or idols of Goddess Durga; this part of India certainly is worthy of a fully fledged tour. Let’s visit the hand-made side of India, to meet and know the artists, who against all odds have kept alive the age-old traditions.
Artist Village of Raghurajpur
About 10 km from the city of Puri, the holy abode of Lord Jagannath, Raghurajpur is a heritage artist village. There are almost 100 houses that belong to the artists who have kept alive the 5 BC old Pattachitra paintings. So what is Pattachitra? Patta means cloth and Chitra means picture. This art includes intricate painting, based on mythological stories, over a piece of cloth. Various colourful figures of Gods and Goddesses are used to compose the folktales. To begin the painting, sketches are made on the cloth with chalk and gum. It is after that the ornamentation and final painting is done with great attentiveness.
As you walk pass the houses of this village, you will witness these artists preparing plaster from lime, sand, molasses, lentils, curd, jute, casein. Usage of local herbs like trifala and bel are also common. On the same lines, nearby villages like Nayakapatna, Khasposak and Dandasahi too are involved in Pattachitra. The famous Samhalpuri sarees owe its origin to Raghurajpur. Mythological stories of Mathura Vijay, Raslila and Ayodhya Vijay are printed on them. Apart from sarees and paintings, wooden toys, traditional masks, idols of stone, paper mache and sculpture work can also be seen.
Kumartuli Potter’s Town Kolkata – Durga Idols are Made Here
Kumar – potter and Tuli – locality; is a three century old locality of Kolkata. More than 150 artist families reside here and these potters are an expert in creating the idols of Gods and Goddesses. Kumartuli Potter’s Town in Kolkata is an important part of Kolkata tourism. It introduces a visitor with the artistic sagacity of the metropolitan city.
As you enter the locality, it is fun watching the artists at work. They build a frame from bamboo and straw; their boatmen dig out mud from the Ganga riverbed. This mud is then supplied to the craftsmen for making the idols. Punya Mati or pure soil; collected from the house of the prostitutes is used for making the idols. It has been an age-old custom, where the priest of a temple goes to a brothel and requests the prostitutes to give some soil for the Durga idol. It takes months to prepare these idols and they are sent even out of India for various pujas of the Bengali NRIs.
Cholamandalam Artists’ Village of Contemporary Art
When it comes to contemporary art, Cholamandalam is counted among the best in Asia. Sprawling over an area of 10 acres, about 9 km from Adyar, Chennai; it is an artist locality in the Injambakkam village. On the shores of Bay of Bengal, this village is a great place to visit if you are an art lover. Cholamandalam is the brainchild of K.C.S. Panikar, principle of Madras School of Arts. He united some great artists, including his students to form an association with his college. Panikar dedicated this place to the kings of the Chola Dynasty, who ruled over the South from 9 – 13 century AD.
This association grew under his patronage and by 1970, became a centre of art learning for Indian as well as International artists. Here you can witness permanent art galleries to organize exhibitions. Walk through the wings and galleries of pottery, batik art and terracotta products that are quite different from the one usually found in the market. Today, functioning as India’s largest self supporting village, the premises has museums, art galleries and also an open air theatre for theatre and dance performances by renowned artists from all over the country.
Bishnupur West Bengal – A Wonderland of Terracotta
Bishnupur, a small town in Bankura district of West Bengal has earned international reputation for its Terracotta art and architecture. Home of the famous Bankura horse, the entire town till date works tirelessly to keep alive the terracotta art, passed on to them by the Malla Kings.
Keeping alive the artistic tradition, Panchmura village near Bishnupur is where the terracotta artists can be seen at work. Since the medieval age, this village has been a centre of ethnic art ware manufacturing long necked Bankura horses, jewellery, artifacts toys and other household decorative items. The place is soon to be turned into a Rural Craft Hub by the efforts of West Bengal Government and UNESCO. A Terracotta Mela is being organized every year between October and November for the artists to display their work.
Gujarat is famous for Banni or Heer Bharat embroidery. It can be easily identified by its vibrancy and rich color pallets with typical design patterns. And, the place to find them is Hodka Village in the north of Bhuj. The beautiful village is full of mud huts that have thatched roofs. Residents here are artist families who are an expert in Banni embroidery. This type of stitching is done in colours like red, green, yellow while stitching mirrors to it.