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Monthly Archives: October 2017

  • The art of hand painting - Kalamkari

    The art of hand painting on cotton or silk fabrics which is famous as Kalamkari – is one of India’s artistic treasures, going back to the ancient Persian Empire and literally meaning “craftsmanship with pen”. It uses a tamarind pen and through the process of bleaching, painting, printing, sun drying and cleaning it creates the most beautiful and, sometimes, unusual patterns.

    Image credit - wikimedia Image credit - wikimedia

    Involving a lot of hard work and difficult procedures, Kalamkari often depicts flowers, animals like the peacock or Hindu characters, allowing artists a unique process of storytelling that began ages ago, 3000 BC. It was during the Mughal Empire that this type of craftsmanship got its recognition and it was further spread around the World by the British in the 18th century.

    Involving 23 steps from the beginning until the finished product, the colours were chosen to paint the fabrics are usually earth-toned, with indigo, black, green or mustard as favourites. The dyes used to paint are also all natural, with no chemicals and obtained through the manipulation of such things as iron, pomegranate or bark.

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    Kalamkari exists in India in two different styles, Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam. The first one takes its inspiration from the Hindu mythology by describing religious stories. The second one has a more abstract design showing blocks with detailed handwork throughout. Recently two new styles appeared due to the preferences of the population in the two main Indian states using this art. The Andhra style has forts, palaces and temples in its designs and the Gujarat Kalamkari presents pictures of the Hindu or Buddhist gods, such as Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha or Lord Buddha.

    In the past, due to the tedious and long method of producing a Kalamkari, this hand paint relic had become almost obsolete with people wanting access to cheaper products. Nevertheless, its primary use nowadays is, as in the old days, the sarees. Today, people can shop for a range of different kalamkari printed dresses like Kurtis, sarees or dupattas in beautiful patterns and colours. Kalamkari has proved to be a safe craft as it does not use harmful chemicals and rely on organic colours to create multi-coloured fabrics.

  • Art of wood: Wood handicraft In India

    India is a land of great diversity and along with that it also presents plenty of opportunities to an enthusiast to soak in different forms of arts, culture, and tradition in every single part of its vast territory. One such opportunity lies in the form of wood arts. Wood carving has given rise to a unique style of arts which is unmatched when compared to the ones found anywhere else in the world. This one art form has been there since time immemorial and over hundreds of centuries have evolved to several different designing traits which can be easily observed and are spread across various parts of the country.

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    As it is known, civilization started sprawling in the Indian subcontinent first than in many other parts of the world.  Wood art also came into existence almost around that early dawn of civilization too and the pleasure of this art is found cherished since prehistoric times. The way Indian states vary in their culture, language, and behavior; similarly wood art seems to get hold of this variety and hence it exhibits a great range of variation in the design and style. According to each state's background and cultural taste, craftsmen developed their own unique style. The expertise and creativity of these exemplary craftsmen has allowed each state to have their very own distinct artistic identity which is hard to ignore in recent times.

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    To take a good look at the wood arts industry prevailing in India with respect to the different states, we must begin with the state of Tamil Nadu from where it is assumed to be originated in the form of beautifully decorated chariots with their figurines. Next is the state of Karnataka, which produced those trademark sandalwood artefacts in the form of elephants, tray, boxes, figurines, pens, key-holders and so many different things. Rajasthan is not only a rich tourist destination but is also famous for its woodworks indoors, panels, brackets, pillars etc. Not only that, it is most widely known for its puppets, animal figurines, and lovely jewellery boxes. The state of Orissa is famous for Lord Jagannatha and the idol of Lord Jagannatha itself was crafted out of wood, which definitely inspired the Oriya artisans to develop their unique style of wood arts that includes colourful wooden dolls, toys etc.

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    This travelogue of Indian wood arts will never be completed without a mention of the state of West Bengal where the expert craftsmen hail from such enriched cultural background that their style varies and distinctly identifiable even while moving from one region of the state to the other. Terracotta is the famous stone sculpture from this state, which has influenced the wood craftsmen to create their own variants which are more portable, less bulky and comes with a longer durability than then stone counterparts.

    Despite such rich legacy of wood artists in India, not everything is good. The government must come forward to train and make modern facilities available for the budding craftsmen so that they are assured of some basic earnings as well as recognition and honour for their hard work.

  • The Delicate art of Khatambandhi

    Kashmir has always been known for its scenic beauty and amazing handicrafts. Khatambandh is one such traditional Kashmiri art of creating decorative ceiling, by fitting together small polygonalwood pieces in exquisite geometrical patterns. Khatambandhi was brought to Kashmir by famous saint Shah eHamdaan who was believed to have visited the Himalayan valley along with some Persian Khatamband artists around 14th century. These artists passed on this exemplary art to the residents of a small town in south of Kashmir and since then the art flourished throughout the state.

    Image Credit - kashmirink Image Credit - kashmirink

    Khatambandhi is a painstaking art of conjugating pieces of wood elegantly that take seven months to finish a 10 feet by 10 feet ceiling. A 100 sq. feet ceiling of an ordinary design requires a minimum of four craftsmen to work on it. The wood is cut into small panels by one, marked by another,carved into various shapes by the third and finally woven in geometrical patterns by the fourth artist. Then there is a master carpenter who carefully install these designs onto the ceiling. The wood employed is usually walnut,deodar or fir which is artistically processed, cut into buttons and panels and fixed in the ceiling in various beautiful floral and geometrical designs.The two main elements, which form a Khatambandh is the beading, also known as Gaj-Patti and the other one is the polygon called Posh (Flower). All this is done manually without using glue or nails. The beauty of this art is that when the ceiling is complete it acquires a captivating unique seamless geometrical pattern. The seamless ceiling creates a dynamic illusion with shapes morphing into each other, almost like watching a sky full of twinkling stars.Another interesting point of this artwork is that the Khatambandh ceiling can easily be dissembled and re-assembled at another place.

    During earlier days Khatambandh design used to be a part of shrines, houseboats, royal and historic palaces but now it is demanded by many houses inside and outside Kashmir.The splendid geometrical Khatambandh ceiling is now in great demand overseas in countries like Australia, USA and Europe.

  • 7 Scientific Reasons behind Indian Traditions

    Indians have been known over time to observe many rituals and traditions daily in their household. Some of these traditions are practiced outside India, where Indians reside. It has been discovered that some of these rituals are mentioned in Vedic scriptures and Brahman scriptures.

    We have put together some traditions and the scientific reasons behind them. Below is the list:

    1. Namaste

    Nameste, also known as Namaskar is a way of greeting and showing respect to others by the Hindus. It is done by joining the two palms together in a way that all the fingertips are together which creates pressure on points of the mind, eyes, and ears. It is believed that it helps us remember the person on the other end for a long time and not shaking hands helps prevent transmission of germs.

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    1. Toe ring

    This is popular among married Indian women, and the ring is mostly silver, worn on the second toes. There is a connection between the second toe and the heart through the uterus and it is believed that wearing a silver ring on the second toe helps in the effective management of menstrual cycle in the body of the woman. It also strengthens the uterus by regulating the blood flow to it.

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    1. Tilak on the forehead

    There is a spot which is considered as a major nerve point in our body and it is the small spot between the two eyebrows on the forehead. The Tilak is believed to give and retain energy at different degrees. When the Tilak is applied on the forehead between the two eyebrows, the Andaya-chakra is also pressed and this facilitates blood supply to the facial muscles.

    1. Henna

    Henna, also referred to as Mehndi is a medicinal herb which is applied on the feet and hands of Indian brides and grooms on weddings. It is believed to prevent stress, tension, fever, and headache too since weddings include various stressful activities.

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    1. Piercing the ears

    This tradition is practiced everywhere across the globe but in India, it is believed that piercing the ears boosts the power of decision making, the power of thinking and also increases the intellect. Piercing of the ears prevents contemptuous behaviours by restricting our speech.

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    1. Surya Namaskar

    Surya Namaskar is an early morning ritual by the Indians that serves as a way of paying respect to the Sun god, the god of energy. Indians offer prayers to the Sun through the use of water and also offer prayers to the Sun god by looking at the Sun through the water. It is believed that it helps the eyes by improving one's vision and making us appreciate the sunlight more.

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    1. CharanSparsh

    Charan Sparsh is also known as touching the feet of our elders. It is believed that there is a connection between two minds and hearts by the flow of cosmic energy in our body. This energy is concentrated at our fingers of both hands and feet. This energy can be transmitted through hugs and handshakes. So when you touch the feet of the elderly, you receive this emission of positive thoughts and energy.

  • Ikat Fabrics: Connecting the World

    Ikat fabrics are taking the textile world by storm. Shrouded in mystery and stunningly beautiful, textiles historians haven’t been able to pin point its origin exactly. Unfortunately, fabrics have a pretty short lifespan in the grand old scheme of things but we do know that it’s been at the root of fabric culture across much of central Asia and the Indian subcontinent for many hundreds of years, if not thousands.

    Image credit - wikimedia Image credit - wikimedia

    The word “Ikat” refers specifically to the method of dying that result in the distinctive style of pattern. Usually, when a cloth is dyed, it has already been woven but this is precisely where Ikat differs. The weave is dyed first in tight bundles of yarn and then woven into the desired pattern once the dye has dried.

    It doesn’t stop there though as there are three different types of Ikat weaving: warp ikat, weft ikat, and double ikat. Warp Ikat is where only the warp yarns attached to the loom are dyed with the ikat technique while the weft yarns are dyed in a block colour. This allows you to see the pattern before you have woven your fabric. Weft ikat is the opposite of warp ikat in that the weft yarn is dyed in the ikat style, meaning the pattern will start to reveal itself as the fabric is woven. Double ikat is the utilization of both warp and weft methods. This results in more complicated patterns and inevitably a pricier fabric. Double ikat is only known to be produced in three countries due to its complexity, those being India, Japan, and Indonesia, places known for their rich history in working with the ikat method.

    On the 16th of September this year, New Delhi hosted an event named World Ikat Textiles: Ties That Bind. This was an exhibition and a celebration of different ikat fabrics from all over the world, such as the Philippines, Thailand and of course, India. There were live demonstrations from master weavers, a fashion show and in excess of 200 unique Ikat weaves from every corner of the globe.

    The global reach of this weaving technique cannot be underestimated. The online market for ikat is growing by the day and demand has never been higher with sellers appearing in the UK, America and across Europe.

    However, many ikat items on the western market may not have been hand-woven in the traditional style of ikat. Lots of products have copied the ikat pattern and printed it onto the desired item, be it a cushion or a dress for the sake of mass production. This speaks volumes about the impression that the ancient weaving technique has left on the globe and is by no means the end of the loom and dye. Thanks to the multicultural nature of places like the UK, the craft is being preserved. Lessons are being offered in certain parts of the country in an effort to pass this invaluable and stunning method of creating unique patterns onto the next generation.

  • SIGNIFICANCE OF DIWALI: THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

    Diwali is celebrated by people all over the world belonging to various religions to mark different ancient events and beliefs; however they all represent the victory of good over evil knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness and faith over despair.

    Diwali is an Indian festival which is also known as Deepavali or festival of lights. This festival is actually a series of festivals honouring five ceremonious events. The festival starts with Dhanteras, also known as Dhanvantari Trayodashi. Second day is called Narak Chaturdashi followed by the night of Diwali on Amavasya and Goddesses Lakshmi is worshiped. Forth day, devotees worship Lord Govardhan Parvat. The last day is dedicated to the treasured bond shared between brothers and sisters and is known as BhaiDooj.

    SIGNIFICANCE OF DIWALI THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

    Legend behind these five ceremonies

    DhanTeras – Dhanteras is a festival about celebrating wealth and fortune. This is celebrated two days before Diwali.

    NarakChaturdasi – This festival symbolize the conquering of the demon named Naraka, by the hands of Lord Krishna and his beloved wife Satyabhama.

    Diwali – Diwali is celebrated on Amavasya. Devotees believe that on this day Goddess Laxmi will fulfil all their wishes generously. There is tradition of gambling on Diwali as ancient stories suggests that Goddess Parvati and her husband Lord Shiva had played dice on this day, and she decreed good luck and prosperity for whole year to people who gambled on Diwali night.

    GovardhanPuja – The fourth day of Diwali is dedicated to Lord Govardhan. This day devotees worship of Lord GovardhanParvat. It is also believed that on Amavasya Lord Vishnu, in his dwarf incarnation defeated Bali, a tormenter, and exiled him to hell. Bali was only allowed one day in a year on earth to oust darkness by spreading the light of love and affection. On this day, Bali steps comes back to rule the earth as per the blessing he received from Lord Vishnu.

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    BhaiDooj – BhaiDooj or Yama Dvitiya is a festival of brothers and sisters. On this day, sisters invite their brothers to come to their homes for feast.

    Diwali is a festival of lights, sweets, fun and fireworks, and it celebrates the victory of truth and justice over evil. Diwali is about giving and forgiving, unity, prosperity, self-realization, and getting rid of all evils.

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