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  • Thanjavur Art Plate History

    Known for its culture, art, heritage and architecture, the scintillating town of Thanjavur in the state of Tamil Nadu, excel in world’s famous monuments and temples. The centre of attraction of these temples and monuments are Thanjavur Art Plates, jewel boxes and brass bowls. These beautifully carved art plates are further decorated with silver and semi precious stones. They are designed as per the Hindu mythology that is very well reflected in its minute carving .It is the most finest and difficult form of metal craft that involves embossing and engraving small figures on the plate representing Thanjavur royal splendor. The base plate is made up of brass, onto which copper designs are crafted which is then dyed with many lovely colors.

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    The history of Thanjavur art plate can be traced to 18th century. It was first introduced by Rajah Serfoji-II when the Marathas were ruling in Thanjavur.  Rajah Serfoji suggested his artisans to show their talent and make an outstanding piece of metal craft that should be a masterpiece in itself. It was then when the craftsmen first made a Thanjavur art plate to gift it to their favorite king. It was designed using copper, brass and silver. A community called as Vishwakarmas crafted these plates. This community consists of few goldsmiths from Thanjavur. Making Thanjavur art plates became a source of living for the Vishwakarmas. The art of making Thanjavur art plate is inherited where only men are involved. It is now declared as a cottage industry as these fine plates are designed in the houses of craftsmen of Thanjavur. In 2011, at Government museum in Thanjavur, a 20th century Thanjavur art plate was exhibited. The plate consisted of brass, copper and silver in an exceptionally artistic manner. The plate depicted images of Nataraja, sage Pathanjali and Goddess Sivakami standing at the centre of a lotus flower.

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    The blend of silver and copper on Thanjavur art plates impart them an unusual striking beauty that last for years. The final finishing depends on the artisan’s skill and ability. Experienced artists make extremely durable plate that retain its shine and glow for a very long time. A typical Thanjavur art plate has design of deities, flowers, birds and geometric patterns that are usually seen encrusted on brass round plate, cup, pot or tray. The expert team of artisan at the Art Plate Production Center of Poompuhar at Thanjavur works rigorously in manufacturing this intricate piece of handicraft. Browse our website to have a glimpse over an array of such splendid Thanjavur art plates of various designs and shapes.

  • Will Make in India be the Knight in Shining Armour for Artisans in India?

    India has always been known for its culture, art and craft. For such a culturally rich country, it is a shame that most of the beautiful crafts are being lost. This is mainly due to the fact that companies from other parts of the world are making many such products through machinery and it is cheaper than the Indian made crafts. However, to counter this, the Indian Government has launched the ‘Make in India’ programme, which is an ambitious nation building initiative to promote more multinational companies to invest their resources to supplement manufacturing in India itself. Many small and large scale art setups will also benefit from the support of this programme.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    In India, there are over 2500+ crafts and around a million able craftsmen who can use this movement. India being culturally rich has arts and crafts which have been honed for centuries through tradition and these improvisations can easily be used to create many ‘Make in India’ opportunities for not only the urban youth of the country, but even the rural poor people.

    Over the past few years, there has been a regenerated interest in the hand-made and natural things throughout the world. And now with the Make in India initiative and resources available to us, we need to work on re-energizing our efforts, our culture and heritage –something that has been passed on to us from generations and forms a part of us.

    Just like in the Indian IT sector, we need to use modern management techniques and global work culture for creating an environment of Swachh Bharat in the villages and other places like factories and offices of all these arts and crafts which will in turn lead to more turnout of the youths who will want to work in these offices and such work friendly environments instead of going to work as watchmen or other small posts in the big cities.

    We can also use HR experts of various big universities and request them to work with the lower level gram panchayats to develop a modern structure for the community at large. This, we believe, will lead the youth to get more appreciation for their hard work and they will come up with new ideas and start taking pride in their work.

    All these efforts however will fail and come to nothing if we are unable to sell the goods created and generate a steady revenue for these newly formed companies. Hence, investment is required to create world class retail strategies and structures. The government needs to help bridge the gap between the requirements of human resources, financial resources, infrastructure and marketing to really make it work. Make in India can work, we just need to go about it the proper way.

  • Crafts of India, all at one Place

    Indian handicraft and art has been part of daily life since times immemorial. From the times when royalty used to invite artisans to their palaces and shower them with riches to now – when you can instantly make these Indian crafts a part of your daily life at the click of a button. At Poompuhar, we bring to you the best of what Indian art and crafts have to offer. Come be part of this beautiful journey!

    Indian art forms are not merely paint on canvas or some beads stitched together, all of these are stories. The stories that artisans tell about their life, their culture, traditions and legacy. All the things available on Poompuhar from sandalwood to thanjavur paintings carry along them myth, legends, folk tales and traditions of the era gone by. Stories of victory, defeat, celebration which are passed down from generation to generation. These things are not available in text books, they are undocumented but still very prevalent. Passed down in families, these are India’s history, culture and heritage.

    Thanjavur Painting

    Hidden in every corner of our country is an art form, diverse from anything you may encounter globally. These are folklore of craftsmen crafting magic with their hand to adorn your lives with the tales of their land.

    Poompuhar is an endeavor to connect artists, craftsmen and their work with the global audience. Everything from silk forms, to prints, to sandalwood, to channapatna toys and brass items are available on www.tnpoompuhar.org and is contributing Indian crafts to the world.

    Poompuhar aims to invoke a sense of community when things from one part of India travel to a completely different part of India – representing Indian diversity in the truest form.

    Go ahead - check out all that’s available at Poompuhar, they make for great decorative items for your living room as well as superb gifts for everyone in your family and friends. Be it the upcoming festival season or a birthday present for your grandmother, the beautiful things from India’s most popular handicrafts emporium are set to sweep you off your feet.

    Happy Shopping!

    Like they say in Tamil, PoivittuVarugiren! Till the time we meet again.

  • Sandalwood

    Sandalwood is basically a class of wood which is indigenous to South India. It is characteristically defined by its woody and sweet smell, and has been used by the Pharma industry and other religious and spiritual institutions for various ceremonious purposes throughout history. Natural growth of sandalwood trees can mainly be found in the states of Karnataka , Andhra Pradesh , Kerala etc. with Mysore in Karnataka having one of the largest plant in the world for procuring oil and other byproducts of sandalwood.

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    Even though sandalwood plantation and sale of its byproducts had earlier been banned to individuals, in the early 2000s with the new policy changes, sandalwood plantation and cultivation was legalized with the exception to the rule being that the produce could be sold solely to the Government.

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    In fairly popular mythology, the king of the realm of Suparaka was saved because of the healing qualities of sandalwood. Now we understand the mistrust in mythological facts, but it has been scientifically evaluated and various healing qualities of sandalwood have been uncovered. While we’re not saying that it is a miracle product, but let us assure you that there are many health benefits of the essential oil and byproducts of sandalwood.

    The essential oil produced by sandalwood is composed of 2 molecules known as the alpha and beta santalol. These are the molecules responsible for producing the strong fragrance which has been associated with sandalwood. Alpha santalol helps improve mental clarity , and is thus one of the main components used during meditation , prayer and other spiritual rituals.

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    With it being one of the main components of so many therapeutic procedures , we can help you be certain that sandalwood, when massaged on the body or just simply smelled, creates a feeling of relaxation and mental peace. Lavender also has similar qualities. However, unlike lavender , sandalwood does not come with the drowsiness involved.

    Sandalwood over the years has been used as a natural aphrodisiac which helps to improve the libido of men. India is the land which gave the world the Kamasutra and needless to say, sandalwood has played a part in the libido of our ancestors.

    Sandalwood is also known for its anti-viral properties and is known to prevent replication of various common viruses , an example being the herpes simplex. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory agent for skin irritation caused by superficial wounds, pimples, boils and warts etc.

    Whether you are in pursuit of mental peace , relaxation , health benefits or just decorative items made from sandalwood, head on over to tnpoompuhar.org and see what all we have available.

  • History and Origin of Brass in India

    The brass is a yellow colored metal and an alloy of copper and zinc. An alloy is a combination of two or more metals that imparts greater strength to the metal. Occasionally some other elements like lead, tin, arsenic are used to promote resistance. A combination of two metals provides an excellent characteristic and greater malleability to the metal.

    Brass production in Indian subcontinent is dated back to the first century BC which also introduced speltering for the first time. Speltering is a process that directly combines metallic zinc and copper to form a strong alloy. Speltering allowed brass makers to have more control over the zinc content and, since then the properties of the brass were fully known. This process, however, depends upon the availability of zinc. The first metallic zinc was produced near Zawar region of Rajasthan around 14th century.

    Calamine brass is another quality of brass that was produced using copper and zinc oxide during same time. Calamine brass was produced using a process known as cementation process, whereby copper was melted in a huge crucible along with ground smithsonite (or calamine) ore at high temperatures. Such a high temperature vaporizes the zinc present in and permeates the copper, thereby producing a relatively purer quality of brass with between only15 and 30 percent of zinc content.

    Brass's unique properties resulted in production of many technical instruments like clocks, watches, chronometers and navigational tools. Brass's characteristic ability to be rolled into thin, corrosion-resistant, non-magnetic and low friction sheets makes it ideal for many items of armaments and ornamentation. Nowadays the applications of the brass include plumbing fixtures, self-propelling articles like thermostats and electrical components.

    Browse the exclusive collection of wonderful handcrafted brass items from Poompuhar. The unique finishing of these items would leave you mesmerized. They are ideal for decoration, pooja purpose, gifting etc. So distinct and budget friendly collection of brass items here, even I am going to place an order just now.

    Plain Brass Bowl

    The classic piece reflects the zeal and determination of craftsmen. The elegantly carved brass bowl is my favorite among bowls collection at Poompuhar. The distinct hand work done on it says it all. It can be used for keeping nuts and dry fruits or can be used as decorative item in your room.

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    Mukkali

    The beautiful Mukkali with three stands is as exquisite as any other product from here. It is made up of pure brass and polished neatly to enhance the look. It can be used in pooja room

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    Brass Samprani Stand

    The simple and elegant Samprapani or loban stand is a block of brass upon which the loban is burnt. Samrapani is derived from balsamic resin of certain variety of trees and is used for fragrance and aroma during pooja at home. It is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil from home.

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  • Puja Accessories at Poompuhar

    The monsoons have hit India and how. Places across the region have been seeing strong monsoon showers and this is just the start.

    Did you know that the rain is considered holy in many cultures? In fact rain fall is considered as a blessing from the Gods in so many religions and regions around the world. So we put together a list of Puja accessories that you must have in your prayer room and enjoy the Lords blessings this Monsoon.

    Granite Stone Ganesh

    Ganesha is the first son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, the most interesting deity and the iconocologist’s delight. Ganesha is also known as Vinayaga, Ganapati, Vigneswara. The granite stone article on Poompuharis of the elephant headed deity with four hands holding ‘paasam’ (the noose) and ‘mazhu’ (the axe) in his hands along with his broken tusk in writing pose. Keeping the Ganesh idol is considered lucky and is said to bring prosperity.

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    Ranganathar Deepam

    The Ranganathardeepam or lamp has a round base with 1 spout.At the centre motif Lord Sriranganathar is displayed in a reclaiming pose with his consort sridevi in sitting position on the coil of a 5 headed serpant. Placing the RanganatharDeepam in your home is said to keep away bad omen.

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    Murugar Set Polish

    Murugar is another son of Lord Shiva and also known as Karthikeya, Skanda in Northern Regions and Subramanya, Muruga in Southern Regions. In this idol he is invariably seen with his Vel & Peacock. The article is made with a mix of zinc, copper, gold, lead and tin. The idol of Murugar, the Lord of War and Victory is said to bring strength to the family whose home the lord resides in.

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    Ashtalakshmi Chembu

    Copper has been the favourite material for making household utensils and vessels since ancient days. The medicinal properties of Copper were well understood and put to good use by the ancient Indians. The 4x4" Copper Ashtalakshmi Chembuavailable at Poompuhar is used in puja rituals to store offerings like milk, payasam, panagam, etc. Also called Kalash, the Ashta Lakshmi Chembu is the most popular and revered ritual during the house warming ceremonies, weddings, Lakshmi Puja and in temple festivals such as Kumbhabhishekam and Bhramotsavam. The water in the kalash represents the primordial water from which everything emerged. Water is considered the giver of life and source of all forms. A must have in your home for all the religious activities.

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    Want to see more items which can be placed in your prayer rooms? Head over to tnpoompuhar.org to see everything available.

  • THE ANCIENT ART OF KATHPUTLI

    The word ‘Kathputli’ is derived from two different words ‘Kath’ meaning wood and ‘Putli’ meaning doll with no life or a toy. The Kathputli is one of the most ancient and prominent art form of Rajasthan. In fact, according to some historians kathputlis or puppets have existed for more than a thousand years now.

    Kathputli as the name suggests is basically a puppet which moves on the fingers of the puppeteer. This art is not only famous and practiced in Rajasthan but can be witnessed across the country. The level of influence of this art form is such that no traditional fair or festival is complete without this dance. As surprising as it may sound, Rajasthan’s kathputli dance is one of the world’s first art involving traditional puppetry.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    Started as a tradition by some Rajasthani tribes, the puppeteers would travel to different villages carrying self-made puppets and entertain the local audience in fairs and festivals. This was the sole medium of earning money for these tribes. Slowly news about this traditional art form spread across the kingdoms in Rajasthan and the puppeteers were invited to the royal courts to entertain the nobles. They received great honour from the royal kings and queens in the royal courts.

    Today, the puppets are made of mango wood and stuffed with cotton. They are highly ornamented with colourful clothes, sharp facial features and attractive make up. Elongated and stylized eyes are an important feature of these puppets. Oil, colours, pipes are all used in making of the puppets. Finally, the strings are attached to the hands, shoulders and back of the puppets to them dance. While it may look enjoyable and fun, but making the puppets dance on your fingers is not an easy task. It requires years of practice to perform and perfect.

    Other forms of puppetry also exist across India including the famous shadow puppetry, rod puppetry and glove puppetry.

    The traditional Rajasthan Puppetry is one of the most marvellous piece of craft and talent, it has been kept alive till date by the ‘Bhat’ tribe of Rajasthan even today. For the Bhats, puppetry is like worshipping God as it’s the main source of their livelihood.

    While you can catch a glimpse of these kathputlis or puppetry across the nation in fairs and during festivals, there are places and museums where you can find the best work. Some of these places are BhartiyaLok Kala Mandal(Udaipur), ChitrakalaParishad(Bangalore), Crafts Museum(New Delhi) and Jagmohan Palace(Mysore).

  • 5 PLACE IN INDIA THAT ARE FAMOUS FOR ITS HANDICRAFTS

    Since time immemorial India has been known for its prowess in arts and crafts. In fact, skilled craftsmen were so prevalent that you could find different types of art and crafts across the landscape of the country from glass work in Uttar Pradesh to Thanjavar paintings in Tamil Nadu and fabric work in Gujarat to terracotta work in Assam.

    Even the British did their bit to boost the Indian handicrafts as such items became rage in the wealthy European countries and such things continue on till today. India today holds a profound share of handicraft exports globally which is giving a boost to the local village economy of these areas.

    Here are the top 5 centres of handicrafts in India today:

    Moradabad – Uttar Pradesh

    Moradabad town is approximately a three hour drive from New Delhi and boasts of a booming brass handicrafts economy. Brass is part of the city DNA to such an extent that Moradabad is called the ‘Brass Capital of India’. Majority of the city’s population is directly or indirectly involved in the business of brass hence giving it the name of ‘PitalNagri’ or Brass City. These highly acclaimed brass handicrafts are exported across the world and is considered of very high value.

    Kanchipuram – Tamil Nadu

    This city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu is famous for its staggering and exuberant silk production. This world famous silk from Kanchipuram also called Kanjivaram is celebrated across the world and is well known for among the rich and royalty of the west. Families across the city are involved in the business of silk, a skill that has been passed down from generations. Travellers to Kanchipuram not only get the chance to buy world class silk there but also witness the divine knowledge and history of silk evolution, its production and its export. Being one of the most expensive fabric in the world, the Kanchipuram silk is one of the most sought items because of its enigma and beauty.

    Image Credit - Flickr Image Credit - Flickr

    Dakshinachitra – Tamil Nadu

    Located just on the outskirts of Chennai, this burstling village is the epicentre of woollen industry in South India. A village well known for arts and crafts, it boasts of a grand museum which showcases the collection and handicraft skills of people from this region. Many tourists throng this place throughout the year to witness the museum exhibits and the craftsmen at work making things as unheard in Tamil Nadu as the Tibetan woollen item Pulu. Today, Dakshinchitra has become a booming centre of arts, crafts and the folklore of South India.

    Image Credit - wikimedia.org Image Credit - wikimedia.org

    Kutch – Gujarat

    Located in India’s most western state of Gujarat, the Kutch region shares the border with neighbour Pakistan. From ancient times this region has been the centre of civilizations and has a very rich history. It is this encapsulating history that makes the region truly mesmerizing and worth visiting. As a centre of art and craft, Kutch is famous for its mirror work, embroidery, art paintings, mud paintings, mud sculptures and the weaving industry. Infact the annual Rann festival in Kutch is famous across the globe and attracts attendance from the rich and famous. The biggest celebrities can be seen thronging the region during the festival giving the place a spot in the global culture circuit. Some of the other renowned arts of Kutch include Khareek, Suf, Wood Carvings, Sea Shell Toys, Paako and the famous mud wall paintings.

    Thanjavur – Tamil Nadu

    A one hour drive from Trichy in Tamil Nadu can lead you to Thanjavur. The city is an important centre of South Indian religion, art and architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Great Living Chola Temples are also located in and aroundThanjavur, thus placing the city on the map of every globe trotter in the world. The city also has to its credit the codification of Carnatic Music and has played a major role in the development of Bharatnatyam, a classical dance form from South India. The world famous Thanjavur paintings also get their name from the city and date back to the 1600s. Not only this, the city is also famous for several other types of metal carvings, metal sculptures and designs. The designs are carved out from earth metals such as copper, brass and aluminium. The metal production and skill of the local populace/artists of the city is spellbinding. With such a wide aura of culture and handicrafts, Thanjavur witnesses a lot of Indian and global tourists visiting the city who take part in the frequently organized craft fairs around the city.

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    The centres mentioned above are only a small peak from a huge mountain base, every town in India and every village across the country is a centre of art and craft in itself.

  • Tales of grandma sarees- Kantha Handicrafts

    The beautiful tradition of draping the nine yard long sari can best be seen in Indian states of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Kantha is an old Indian embroidery style practiced mostly by rural women of West Bengal and Orissa.  In Sanskrit ‘Kantha’ means ‘rag’ as the embroidery is made up of discarded garments or cloths. The word Kantha also means throat due its association with Lord Shiva.

    Kantha is a 500 hundred year old traditional work where women and grandmas of the house, use old and discarded pieces of clothes or layer 4 or 5 saris together. Then a running stitch is made on it with different motifs to give it a slight wrinkled and wavy effect. The various motifs are folk motifs, floral motifs, animal and birds figures and geometrical patterns and designs. Themes are generally taken from daily life activities.

    Image Credit - wikipedia.org Image Credit - wikipedia.org

    There are 7 types of different Kantha stitches. The first kind is known as Lep Kantha and is used to make warm padded quilts. Second one is Sujani Kantha and is used to make bed covers for weddings and ceremonies. Baiton Kantha is used on covers for wrapping books and objects. Oaar Kantha is used on pillow and cushion covers, while Archilata Kantha has beautiful motifs and colorful borders and is used for covering mirrors. Durjani Kantha is generally a small piece used to make the inside of a purse, hand bags and wallet, and the last stitch is the Rumal Kantha which has a distinct lotus at the centre and is used to cover crockery and household items plate.

    The thought behind the fine needlework used in Kantha embroidery is to employ old clothes and materials and convert them into something new, attractive and useful. The entire Kantha work depicts a tale or is like an inspirational story representing the hard work and dedication of women and folks.

    The traditional form of Kantha embroidery was done on soft dhotis and saris where the outer layers of the cloth is kept light colored or white. This makes the cloth more attractive and perceptible. The contemporary Kantha is done on the present day garments like stoles, shawls, saris, dupatta, shirts, bedding and other household furnishing fabrics. Nowadays Kantha handicrafts are very much in demand in foreign nations. Many tourists visiting West Bengal take back lovely Kantha handicrafts to gift their loved ones and family members.

  • The Legend of Ranganatha-an Incarnation of Vishnu

    Hindu mythology and religion has many fascinating tales of Gods and their incarnations. Whenever this world is trapped with evil or negative forces, Lord Vishnu is believed to have taken avatars to protect and preserve the world. Lord Vishnu is the main deity in Hindu religion with many avatars and Sri Ranganatha is one amongst them.  There are many temples of Sri Ranganatha in South Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Sri Ranganatha is the main deity of Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. Made from a combination of 2 words 'Rangam' and 'Nathan', the Tamil meaning of Ranganatha is leader of the place of assembly.

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    Also known as Aranganathar, Ranga and Thenarangathan, Sri Ranganatha is the main legend inside these south Indian temples. The deity of Sri Ranganatha can be seen placed resting artistically on a serpent as you enter the temple. The serpent God is known as Adiseha. The consorts of Sri Ranganatha are mainly Goddess Laksmi (or Ranganayaki Thayar), Bhudevi and Nila Devi. These deities are seen smiling and are positioned usually reclining. This particular posture is considered very auspicious as the Lord along with his consorts, is believed to be listening to the woes of devotees and blessing them. Although Sri Ranganatha is much famous amongst Hinduism, he is also very popular in Sri Vaishnava community. Due to the vast history associated with Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, it is quite popular amongst the scholars and devotees too.

    Located on the banks of holy river Kaveri, Pancharanga Kshetrams are considered as the five most sacred Ranganatha temples in south India. The first temple from the upstream side of river Kaveri is Srirangapatna (Karnataka), also called the Adi Ranga. Next in sequence are Sarangapani at Kumbakonam, Tanjore, in Tamil Nadu, Appalarangam or Koviladi at Tiurppernagar in Tamil Nadu, Parimala Perumal located in Mayiladuthurai in Tamil Nadu and the last one is the Srirangam in Trichy (Tamil Nadu).

    There are many other Ranganatha temples that can be found in different towns and villages of South India. Since the temples are very pious and peaceful, hundreds of devotees and visitors pay honor to Sri Ranganatha and seek his blessings.

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