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  • Traversing many a moons of Indian Painting Styles

    Indian Art is among the most diverse forms of art found in any political state. An onlooker may notice the variations that occur in the span of a few miles. The South Indian paintings differ from the North Indian style and the latter differ from the North-eastern style and among these styles too, different cities have a distinct peculiar touch to them. What is fascinating to know is the fact that almost each to these styles haven’t taken birth in the recent years but are remnants of times gone by. Many among them have adapted with respect to the need of the time, while very many are potent enough to wade off all the chances of undergoing alteration.

    The earliest Indian Paintings date back to 10,000 B.C. These were carved on the walls of caves. Throughout the Indian history we come across instances from the Vedas that assert the fact that paintings have always been a preferred form of art. The court of most of the Indian emperors adorned beautiful works of art and therefore the artists were mostly provided with a climate hospitable for honing their skills and were awarded prizes.

    Paintings are done on leaves, paper, cloth, canvas, gold leaf, mica, wood etc. The art forms of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and entire Southern India, are lauded for their uniqueness all over the world.

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    Bhimbetka Cave Paintings dated 1500 - 20000 B.C. [Image Credits - Raveesh Vyas - Flickr]

    The Indian painting styles have constantly flowed from one era to the other. The ancient medieval and modern eras have their own individuality but there is somewhere that common thread, you may not be able to describe but it definitely will make you say, “That’s an Indian work of art!” Indian cave paintings top the chronological list. The list of these wall paintings includes the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves, Bhimbekta, Bagh etc,

    The Medieval India takes us to the court of the Mughals and the Marathas and the Rajputs - the crowning period for Indian art and architecture. Each of these emperors worked towards making sure that they shall leave behind artefacts that’ll portray their majesty and love for art. The Indo-Islamic form of painting was a pristine addition to the Indian style and is cherished even hundreds of years hence. The Thanjavur or Tanjore paintings are trademark of the Marathas. These elaborately designed and ornate pictures are the bestsellers of South India. Gods and goddesses are the images of prime focus. The Rajput paintings that are said to be coloured with the Mughal style are known for their quality. There are varied number of schools that fall under this art and each one has its own prowess to exhibit.

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    Babur Receives a Courtier, 1589, Farrukh Baig, Mughal dynasty [Image Credits -Wikipedia.org]

    Modern Indian Paintings started to change the face of the Indian style. The British intervention was clearly visible initially. The paintings changed to portraits with subdued hues and less or no embellishments. The Madras School of Art was set up by the British in the mid 19th century, this is where intermingling of cultures initiated. The foreign rulers trained the Indian artists in the kind of art that was in demand across the English Channel. The artists used both urbane as well as indigenous paints. The Madras School of Art has lived through the period of independence and thrives until today.

    The Bengal School of Arts is an even contemporary art academy that was founded as late as the 20th century, during the rule of the British Empire but not backed by them. It has more to do with the rebels; the patriots. The paintings thus composed had a stroke of nationalism. It took birth amid a scenario of rebellion and protests when the Indian artists refused the extrinsic forces to rule their minds and dexterity. Many modern day artists find a close association with this school of reformers.

    Raja Ravi Varma the well read artist hailing from the state of Kerala is a revered name in the chronicles of Indian Art. He has his innate style where he imperceptibly mixed the art forms of Europe and the Indian sub continent. He developed art works that depicted the Indian heritage, art and culture but the modus operandi was primarily English.

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    Shakuntala looking back to glimpse Dushyanta,1870, Raja Ravi Varma [Image Credits -Wikipedia.org]

    The contemporary times are times of globalisation in a single global village called the Earth. Artists take inputs from various schools of art spread all over the planet and make an amalgamation which is novel in its form and is a fusion of multiple techniques. Artists paint abstract together with hard core reality. M.F. Husain, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Francis Newton Souza are a few contemporary legacies that have left this world only to be remembered till eternity.

  • Thanjavur Oviyam: Interplay of Intricacy & Vibrance

    South Indian Art speaks for itself and Thanjavur Paintings are among the most prized and preserved form of art that are known for their unique composition. Centuries after centuries this art form has only adapted itself with the contemporary times and is thus in vogue today, even though hundreds of years have passed since it was first brought to the public. Thanjavur has a rich history with UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, paintings, bronze art, wooden sculptures, dance and music. The Thanjavur kings have been held in high esteem and are known for their administration and valour.

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    Thanjavur Painting of Gopala Krishna alongside a gopika

    Thanjavur style of painting is as ancient as 1600 AD and derives its roots from the Nayakas and the Marathas. The Marathas developed a conducive environment which made artists thrive in this particular skill. Serfoji II the great Maratha ruler made innumerable contributions to Thanjavur paintings and helped them take the form they currently exhibit. The painters were primarily Kshatriyas or warriors and this is evident up to this age as they suffix 'Raja' after their name.

    These paintings are prepared on materials such as wood, glass, ivory, murals, mica etc. Initially they also had precious and semi-precious stones embedded in them. Many of the Hindu Manuscripts that date until the 19th century AD have several pages dedicated to Tanjore Paintings. They canvas is majorly known to paint Hindu deities and brave rulers, though many among them also depict characters which gives a secular colour to this art that uses vivid colours that are a spectacle to every eye. The character of central importance generally enjoys greater canvas-space and is thus quite large than the other items shown. The image flaunts a 3-D effect. The luminous greens, brilliant yellows and intense reds are so spell-bounding that they are a must in almost every South Indian household and a souvenir that most of the tourists prefer to house. The artist as well as the buyer is happy to see the end results and enjoys owning it.

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    A Thanjavur Painting in process [Image Credits - The Hindu]

    Owing to some changes and replacements in the style the artists had started to gain lesser profits. This resulted in a number of artist drop outs and Thanjavur Paintings were included in dying art forms. Poompuhar actively engages in conducting workshops and exhibitions that help create a market for various kinds of arts that belong to South India. A while ago, we initiated a year long training programme exclusively for women that skilled them in the art of Thanjavur Painting. 100 women enrolled in this programme that is all set to mark its end in November 2014. We at Poompuhar ensure that each Indian art form gets its due and stays viable to be witnessed and appreciated by generations to come.

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    Poompuhar's one-year training program in Thanjavur Painting at Vasantham Kalyana Mandapam, Srirangam

  • Chola Bronze Art - A Legacy Transcending Centuries

    Emperors that have reigned India have left their presence in the form of temples, mosques, forts and antique pieces of art. Time again we are reminded of their history when we look at a sculpture that reflects the make of the era long gone by. The Chola Empire constantly worked on doctoring the form of art and architecture left to them by the Dravidians.

     

    The period of the Cholas burgeoned in the arena of bronze art. The South Indian craft is greatly influenced by bronzes. Sculptures of Natraja, Lord Krishna, Radha and many other gods and goddesses are carved in this sturdy alloy. Museums all over the world proudly display this primarily Hindu iconography that is potent enough to grasp attention for a couple of seconds.

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    Chola bronze statue of Nataraja at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City [Image Credit - Wikipedia.org]

    Bronze art is arrived at using the ‘lost-wax’ process, termed as cire perdue in French. The process involves uncompromising and constant hard work that is divided into sub-processes. A model is initially created out of wax, or an oil based clay that is easily mouldable and retains its malleability. Wax stems are inserted into some areas of strategic importance and then the entire model baked in order to melt off the wax. Before baking, the model is enveloped in clay, and this results in leaving a hollow model casted in clay. Molten bronze is now poured into the cavity and allowed to cool down. Once the bronze cools down and assumes its sturdiness, the clay is broken off. The areas where the wax stems were earlier placed are by now taken by the cooled down molten bronze and are therefore filed off.

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    Liquid bronze at 1200 °C is poured into the dried and empty casting mould  [Image Credits -Wikipedia.org]

    These statues as already stated depict gods and goddesses exhibiting some timeless saga that has been transferred through generations on a stretch. Religious notions and beliefs in India keep up with the contemporary times. By the 10th century A.D. the followers of Hinduism realised that the deities should be included in the religious processions and should thus be of a size that is easily movable from a place to the other. They were generally mounted on to poles or rods which would bear the weight of the idol and at the same time provide it mobility. Thus, the origin of inclusion of these images in processions and festivals started taking place. With the advent of time, the size started to decrease and they became a household image that adorned almost every Indian home.

    The mould that is used to fill in the molten wax is broken off every time, and there is thus no chance of duplication. Each of the sculpture is unique in its own way, and the symmetry that is exhibited is again the outcome of tedious work brimming up with measurements based on the old Indian Manuscripts. Poompuhar values this endless work that goes into making each piece of bronze art and the importance of the viability of this art. We have therefore worked to promote this style of art at various levels for over 40 years, and helped this age old art which bloomed during the 10th Century Chola empire prosper in our modern world. We host exhibitions and workshops time and again to bring recognition and appreciation to this divine art.

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    Bronze Statue of Lord Ganesh sclupted by Poompuhar Artisans at the Swamimalai unit (Thanjavur Dist.) of THDC Ltd., using the Chola Bronze Technique

  • Add a zest of Tamilnadu to your lives!

    Mangalore- the chief port city of Karnataka is a host to the 4th in a row Handicrafts Expo that is organised by the ‘Poompuhar’ Tamilnadu Handicrafts Development Corporation annually. Inaugurated by Shri Mahabala Maarla, the Mayor of the coastal city, on October 24, 2014; the exhibition is an array of beautiful artefacts that have the magnetic power of attraction. A look at these magnificent pieces of art and one is head over your heels to have them.

    The selection on display includes the intricately patterned saris, devout idols, perfectly etched out lamps and yet many other items of display and sale prepared by 20 odd artisans who hail from different states of India. Mayor Maarla was ensorcelled with the exquisiteness of the craftsmanship. He requested the fellow Mangaloreans to drop by the exhibition and enjoy the richness of the Tamilian ethnology, while addressing the press gathered.

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    The Panchaloha Vishnu Idol [Image Credits: mangaloretoday.com]

    There are quite a few exotic articles that verbalise their making as soon as one casts his sight on them The Panchloha idols are the product of fusing and moulding 5 different metals. The idols of Dakshinamurthy, Ardhanarishwara, Rajarajeshwari, Ganesha and Nataraja are on display at the sale. Anwar, a Poompuhar salesman explains to onlookers that the vegetable print saris are not only beautiful to adorn but also have a medicinal value. They help in maintaining an optimal body temperature by absorbing excess heat radiated by the body. These saris also control the sugar levels in the body of the person who wears them. These sarees are woven by indigenous artisans and have aesthetically pleasing designer prints made of naturally occuring dyes.

    S. Manikandan, Manager at Poompuhar, said that the exhibition has items to please every soul. According to him the last exhibition did wonders in terms of sales and this year he expects an even better turnover.

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    A stall at the Poompuhar Handicrafts Expo, Mangalore [Image Credits: daijiworld.com]

    Poompuhar, a Government of Tamilnadu Undertaking, was established in 1973 and has since worked endlessly to empower the artisans of India, both in terms of vocational training and getting a livelihood coupled with recognition. Visit the Handicrafts Expo at Woodlands Hotel, Mangalore that extends up to November 3rd, 2014. Add a zest of Tamilnadu to your lives!

  • 'Crafts of Tamil Nadu' Exhibition, New Delhi

    Crafts of Tamil Nadu”-The Poompuhar Exhibition of Art and Craft was inaugurated by Shri. Samir Kumar Biswas I.A.S., Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), New Delhi, in the presence of Dr. Santhosh Babu I.A.S.,  Chairman & Managing Director of Poompuhar, Chennai on October 17th, 2014  at Shilpi Haat, Connaught Place, New Delhi. This exhibition is in every manner a depiction of the age-old culture, tradition and artistry of Tamil Nadu. It makes South meet North for benefits that are mutual and give India the holistic view it actually encompasses. It also acts as a focal point that enables the North Indians to appreciate and better understand the values and beliefs of their Southern counterparts.

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    Chief Guest, Shri Samir Kumar Biswas cuts the ribbon during the inauguration ceremony.

    Poompuhar, the well acknowledged brand name of The Tamilnadu Handicrafts Development Corporation (THDC) has been serving the native arts and craftsmen of the Tamil Nadu since its inception in July 1973. It has held various exhibitions at various times to attract herds of people to indigenous and extraordinary handmade pieces.

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    Chief Guest, Shri Samir Kumar Biswas and THDC Chairman and MD, Dr. Santhosh Babu look on as the artisan displays his prowess.

    The THDC artisans are present at the fair and are demonstrating their skills live which has added to the fervour of the 2014 exhibition. Meeting these skilled individuals in person and seeing them carve inimitable pieces of art out of ordinary materials is indeed a delighting experience.  The Crafts of Tamil Nadu extends from the 17th of October to 31st of October 2014. The items on display range from the beautifully moulded Bronze Icons and Brass Lamps to the elusive Thanjavur Artplates, Thanjavur Paintings and Madubani Paintings, and some beautiful Wood Carvings and other Home Decorative Items. Poompuhar serves to bring acknowledgement to the effort that goes into creating masterpieces and we thus celebrate the efforts of our artisans giving them an opportunity to demonstrate their talent and mastery, so that the world would recognise the faces that laboured day and night to decorate the lives of thousands of unknown faces.

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    An artisan demonstrating his work of art- LIVE! at Shilpi Haat, Connaught Place, New Delhi.

  • South India: The Times Gone By...

    India is a country marked by diversities, and what’s remarkable is the unity that exists amidst this multiple ethnicity. South India is a large chunk of the country and is home to people of varying cultures and spoken languages. The history of each of its regions speaks volumes and is well preserved in various forms of art. These art forms include folklores, music, dance-forms, art and craft, etc.

    This expanse of the Indian sub-continent still harbours the remains of the ancient times, when the Cholas, Pandyas, Pallavas and Cheras were the rulers of this soil. This dates back to as early as 10th Century A.D. , when Tamil Nadu under the reign of the Cholas was renowned for its beautifully carved temples and unparalleled literature. The Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur is an example of the architectural marvels of this bygone age. Economic activity too was at its peak, each one these virtues is still alive in this state and its inhabitants. The peninsular Deccan Plateau had no look backs even in the Medieval and Modern periods of Indian history. The legacy of being economically strong and traditionally rich continued to pave its way. The Medieval period saw some great structures like the Stone Chariot, Virupaksha Temple.

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    Detail of the main vimanam of the Thanjavur Temple. Image credits: Venu62 - Wikipedia

    The city of Mysore narrates tales about the kings that ruled and has its own unmatched aura to boast. The Arabian Sea makes this peninsula the focal point for tourists. Every year tens of thousands of tourists throng the land and get swayed by the mesmerising scenic beauty. The beaches and the backwaters are a spectacle for every eye. These captivating views coupled with the bronzes sculptures, the stone carvings, the engraved plates, clay idols and other forms of art and craft protected in the temples and monuments make South India is a locale that has carved the moments gone by on the sands of time.

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    Shiva as Nataraja, the most famous subject found in Chola processional bronzes. Image Credits: LACMA - Wikipedia

  • Deepawali Celebrations Come to Life with Poompuhar’s 'Festival of Lights' sale

    There is no greater joy than seeing the seeds of hard work bear fruit. It is with this thought and concept that we have organized the special exhibition called ‘Festival of Lights’ on textiles and jewelry in the very heart of Tamil Nadu. Besides standing as a mark of Deepawali celebrations, the exhibition-cum-sale is an effort to give traditional artisans and craftsmen a platform to showcase their talent and provide them an access to better social security. Deepawali in India is a nation-wide phenomenon. The fervor that surrounds this festival is contagious; people go beyond the boundaries of caste, creed and religion to celebrate the victory of good over evil. This exhibition is our initiative to add a little more joy to people’s lives. The exhibition-cum-sale is open till 21st October, 2014 from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm every day at the Anna Salai showroom in Chennai.

    The highlight of the exhibition is the admirable range of lamps and dress materials, keeping in view the special demand for these during the Deepawali season. These are discounted at 20% and 10% respectively. One can get ornate brass lamps in various designs and sizes from a collection that includes Malabar lamps, Iyappan lamps and parrot hanging lamps among others.

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    The clothing section consists of dresses from all over India- Ghaghracholis and churidars from Rajasthan, hand-printed suits with detailed needle work from Kashmir, men’s khadi shirts from Meerut, besides a lavish collection of various kinds of sarees from all over India. Hand printed and lightweight sarees are a special attraction. One of the collections of low-weight silk sari from Punjab weighs as less as 140 gm, including a zari of 40 gm.

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    Clothing and jewelry go together during festivities, and the jewelry section has a lot of unique designs to enhance the enthusiasm of Deepawali shopping. The jewelry includes attractive imitation jewelry, gold-plated necklaces from Jaipur, pearl sets and coral sets besides others.

    The exhibition is open every day from 10 am to 8 pm till 21st October, 2014 at No.818, Anna Salai, Chennai.
    For more information about the products and exhibition, call 044-28520624 or 044-28585721.

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