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Monthly Archives: July 2017

  • Wearing the Canvas-Rogan Art

    Self adornment, decoration and innovation have been an integral part of humanity since the beginning of civilization. Kutch district of Gujarat has always been known for its distinctive use of threads, beads, colors and variety of printing styles to adorn fabrics and ornaments, but a very unique art of decorating wearable fabrics like painted canvases has never gained popularity. This inarguable and poignant art form is known as Rogan art. Rogan is a 300 year’s old printing art, prevalent in Nirona village of Kutch. The rare and ancient Rogan art has come from Iran. In Persia “Rogan” means “oil based”. It is now practiced by only two families in Nirona who have persevered for centuries to keep Rogan art alive.

    Image Credit - wikimedia Image Credit - wikimedia

    Rogan is an intricate art of painting on the fabric or a canvas. It is a time consuming procedure where the castor oil is first boiled for over three days. It is then left for cooling, after which vibrant colors like red, green, yellow, orange, black and white are mixed to the castor oil in appropriate amount. These pastes are kept in water to prevent drying. Craftsmen then place a small amount of this paint paste onto their palm which is then carefully twisted and painted into beautiful motifs using a metal rod. A very unique feature of this art is that the metal rod used for painting never comes in contact with the fabric. The artisan then folds this design into a blank fabric to print a mirror image of the pattern. It is a very basic form of printing where geometric flowers and peacock are used as designs. Other designs that are common are tree of life and Moghul paisley. Rogan art is used to decorate cushion covers, bedsheets, kurtas, curtains, table cloths, wall hangings, purses, dress material and saris. Rogan art has recently been into news, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted this timeless piece of art to former US President Barack Obama on his visit to India.

     If you are planning a trip to Gujarat, make sure to visit Nirona which is hardly 35 kilometers from Bhuj. The family sustaining this art form has also received many national awards and international acclaim. If you look closely over the intricacy of Rogan art, it will leave you speechless. The exquisite patterns of Rogan art reflect passion, determination and hard work of the artisan.

  • Making the Chandi ka Warq (silver leaf) by Beating Silver

    It is believed that the use of gold and silver in Indian delicacies dates back to ancient times. Indian confectionery stores nowadays, are full of sweets garnished generously with thin sheets of some shiny coating. This shiny coating is nothing but “chandi ka warq” or “silver foil or “silver leaf” to render them look more elegant and auspicious. They are also sometimes used to cover idols in temples in our country. The word warq is Arabic in origin and its meaning is leaf. In Sanskrit and Ayurvedic medical literature, varaka or warq word is used to address a cloth, cloak or a thing that covers something. Scientifically, silver acts as a potent anti-bacterial and anti fungal agent and coating food products with silver increases their freshness and shelf life.

    Image Credit - picsart Image Credit - picsart

    Luck now, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh is known for making chandi ka warq. Because of the demand in Mughlai cuisine, Luck now has emerged as a major warq producing center in the country. Apart from covering sweets and desserts, silver leaves are used to cover food items like kebabs, phirni, betels, chavanprash, sewain, cardamoms, spices and dry fruits.

    Image Credit - siasat Image Credit - siasat

    The process of making these intricate silver leaves or chandi ka warq is little difficult and require great skill. Warq is made by constant beating or hammering silver into sheets, which typically are 0.2-0.8 µm thick, laid inside a leather pouch placed over granite stone They are then backed with paper for support which is peeled away before use. Approximately 165 layers of silver strips are placed between layers of leather (usually ox gut) and hammered for more than six to eight hours to produce silver leaves. Silver leaf or chandi ka warq is very fragile and breaks into smaller pieces (due to close inter atomic distance of silver metal), if not handled properly. The craft of making chandi ka warq involves a lot of precision and perfect coordination between hand and eyes during hammering. The art seems to have been passed down the generations. The people involved in this art are known as karigars, who never seem to lose the zest and passion in making these delicate silver leaves, albeit the soaring price of silver. This determination renders the art of making silver leaf so treasured and very much in demand everywhere.

  • History of the fabric that shaped India's freedom struggle – Khadi

    “For every minute I spin, there is in me the consciousness that I am adding to the nation’s wealth.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

    What is khadi? How is it important to us as Indians? These are just a few questions which we will be answering in this blogpost. Let us first start with the basic question. What is Khadi? Well, Khaadi is one of the most ancient fabrics in the world. Khadi or khaddar, as it is also known, is a hand spun and hand woven cloth which is mainly made from cotton on a spinning wheel known as a charkha.

    However, if we were to delve deeper, we will realize that it’s not just a fabric, it is an entire movement which laid the foundation for the freedom struggle as we know it today. The Khadi movement was started by The Father Of The Nation himself as a means to an end. The movement itself aimed at boycotting all the foreign goods and encouraging the use of Indian products. Spinning of the charkha to produce khadi had a huge significance because it promoted self-employment and the reliability and dependency on one’s own self was improved. Indians boycotted the use of industry made clothes from Britain and instead chose to wear Indian made khadi clothes, which in turn made khadi an integral piece of the Swadesi movement.

    Image Credit - Pixabay Image Credit - Pixabay

    Whenever you wear khadi, you are helping other Indians and fulfilling your social responsibility of helping all the people who are directly or indirectly involved in the manufacture of the khadi fabric. Khadi is also an eco-friendly fabric which decomposes in the earth in around six months unlike the other synthetic fabrics. Another benefit of wearing khadi over synthetic clothing is that you are exposing your skin to just organic stuff and there are no health hazards involved. Khadi helps your skin to breathe. When you wear khadi, you are also respecting the spirit of patriotism attached to this fabric.

    We however usually feel that khadi, nowadays, is more expensive than the regular fabric. This is a flawed argument because it is not the right perspective to look through. Comparing an exclusive, hand crafted product to the mass produced machine made products should be a crime upon itself.

    A nation will not prosper if its handicrafts and industries are not developed. Importing everything from outside and not focusing on helping the local products and industries grow will only create a dependent and lazy nation.

    Go on, flaunt you style with Khadi! Make the statement.

  • 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.

     Shop for this Thanjavur Painting Jewel Box - Click Here Shop for this Thanjavur Painting Jewel Box - Click Here

    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.

    Shop for this Sandal Wood Pen - Click Here Shop for this Sandal Wood Pen - Click Here

    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.

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