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  • Ten amazing Indian Folk Art forms you need to know

    India is a land of rich cultural diversity with more than 2500 tribes and ethnic groups. The tribal groups in India are blessed with an outstanding talent to create a matchless form of folk art. Folk art is an indigenous form of art that is created by a particular class of artisans and peasants reflecting the tribe’s culture. Capturing stories in folk art has been a common practice since ages. Folk art form has a variety of distinctive paintings that are not only exotic, but also represent a rich historical perspective. The most distinctive characteristic of folk art is the use of natural materials and creative techniques. Let’s have a glimpse over India’s amazing folk art forms:

    Saura Art

    A jungle tribe with a distinct culture, Saura is found in Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Based on the concept of ‘Tree of Life’, Saura paintings convey the beautiful relationship between man and environment. The artist use a fish-net approach, creating the border first, and then moving inwards to draw the patterns.

    Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Bhil Art

    Bhil is one of the largest tribe of India and is found in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Drawing inspiration from the powerful archer, Ekalavya of Mahabharata, Bhil art portrays tribal life and natural phenomenas like changing seasons, sun, moon, animals, trees, rivers and mythological figures. Bhil artist use herbal colors and vegetable dyes made from kumkum, haldi, kajal, rice, mehendi etc that reflects the tribal creativity and talent.

    Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Miniature Painting

    As the name suggests, miniature paintings refer to paintings that are small in size but portray fine detailing and expression. Miniature paintings flourished under Shah Jahan and Akbar’s rule in 16th century and are now popularly practiced in Rajasthan. The main characteristic of the miniature paintings is the intricate brushwork and colorful motifs embellished with semi-precious stones, conch shells, gold and silver dust.

    Cheriyal Scroll Painting

    Cheriyal paintings are stylized version of Nakkashi art. Cheriyal, a small village, in Andhra Pradesh, is home to one of the most beautiful surviving artistic culture.The 3 feet long Cheriyal painting is done on Khadi cotton cloth which is treated with rice starch, suddha matti (white mud), boiled tamarind seeds and gum water. The painting brush used has squirrel’s hair on it, which portrays beautiful patterns depicting ancient Indian mythology, literature, folk traditions, and even simple rural life.

    Bengal Pat

    The indigenous art from Bengal developed hundreds of years back when roaming minstrels used to sing life incidents and tragedies, and started depicting them on cloth scrolls for beatification and preservation. Bengal Pat depicts regressive social set up in a very satirical manner where housewives are painted protecting themselves with a broomstick and women flying up high inside a balloon. These paintings also portray historical figures like Rani Lakshmibai, Jhansi ki Rani dressed up in Mughal style.

    Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Warli Art

    An ancient tribe inhabiting the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Warli’s are known for their rudimentary wall painting that reflects thousands of years of old tradition .The striking feature of Warli art is that of a human shape, a circle and two triangles. The geometrical patterns represent life and activities like hunting, fishing, farming, festivals and dances. A bamboo stick is used as the paint brush, and white color (made of rice paste) is used for making shapes against a dark colored background. Sometimes cow dung and geru (red earth) is used for earthy background.

    Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org Image credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Gond Art

    Inspired from nature, Gond paintings show fine dots and intricate lines revealing finesse and hard work of the craftsmen. Gondi tribe is the largest tribe of Madhya Pradesh with a history of over 4000 years old. People decorate their houses with this art form to ward off evil and bring in good luck and prosperity. Gond art use colors made from charcoal, cow dung, leaves and colored soil to create bold and vibrant patterns that depicts mainly flora and fauna.

    Patachitra

    Pata means vastra or clothing, and chitra means painting. The special art form was developed in Orissa in 5th century BC. Patachitra starts on fine gauze like cloth where the painter uses tamarind paste, chalk powder and gum. After getting dried, marvelous designs are portrayed on it using natural dyes. A plethora of paintings can be seen in magnificent Indian temples of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar.

    Madhubani painting

    The folk painting of Bihar is known as Madhubani painting or Maithili painting, These paintings are done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens and matchsticks, and use natural dyes and pigments like turmeric, soot, cow dung, indigo, rice powder, sandalwood and rose. An interesting feature of this art form is that the artist aim to cover every possible inch of the canvas with spectacular patterns, filling the gaps with flowers, animals, birds and geometric designs.

    Phad Art

    Originated in Rajasthan, Phad is mainly a religious form of scroll painting. Phad is a 30- or 15 feet-long canvas or cloth representing stories of life and heroic deeds of folk deities like Pabuji or Devnarayan.

  • Celebrating India’s Amazing Handicraft

    India and its citizens have since the beginning of time been creators of several art forms, reflecting their culture, heritage and fulfilling several necessities of the rich and the poor. India’s handicraft ,too, is second to none, with variety of  cultures and sub-cultures existing and varying from each other, it is no wonder that its handicraft sector has given birth to globally famous genres of handicraft. We would like to give a brief introduction to some famous and amazing forms of handicraft which not only adds to the richness of this country’s culture but also is a celebration in itself!

    Madhubani: Madhubani painting is also known as Mithila painting. Natural dyes and pigments are used to create it. With five distinctive and equally impressive styles, namely - Bharni, Tantrik, Nepali, Katchni and Gobar, this art form uses natural dyes and pigments. With time, the Madhubani art form has increased in popularity and is even replicated in various other decorative forms.

    Madhubani paintings in india Image Credit - Wikipedia

    Phulkari: Tracing its root to the women-folk of Punjab, Phulkari, was started in the 19th century. The name “phulkari” translates to flower work in Punjabi, and as the name suggests the art form resembles, the bright colors of flowers and reflects the fertile colors of the fields of Punjab. The appeal of the phulkari is such that it is now a must-have in Punjabi households.

    Phulkari handicrafts from India Image Credit - Wikipedia

    Channapatna Toys: Situated 60kms from the hustle-bustle of Bengaluru, is situated a small town called Channapatna. In the local Kannada language, this town is called Gombegala Ooru, which translates to ‘toy town.’ The artists residing in this ‘tow-town’ make wooden toys, colored in organic colors, in front of the customers. Now, a major tourist destination, 80 % of the population of the town rely on this business for their livelihood

    Channapatna Toys handicrafts from India Image Credit - Wikipedia

    Brass Utensils: A symbol of prosperity, wealth and honor since humans started settling. The Lohars or the early blacksmiths from Rajasthan bought brass sheets from Ahmedabad and created the first brass utensils. Once, a dazzling element in the royal kitchens, they are now found in museums or handed down through generations as family heirlooms.

    Brass Utensils From India Handicrafts

    Kantha : The soft and comfortable material used, makes this a favorite among many.It all began decades ago when grandmothers would sew their old sarees as patchworks and make kanthas. Today, it is done on a larger commercial platform, and with much brighter colors.

    Kantha Handicrafts from India Image Credit - Wikipedia

    Dhana Murti: Mundas - This ethnic tribal group in the Chota Nagpur plateau region use unhusked rice grains to make idols. Rice grains, bamboo slivers, and colored threads are used to make beautiful idols of Indian gods and goddesses like Ganesha or Lakshmi.

    Image Credit - Gaatha.com Image Credit - Gaatha.com

    Ranidongri Baskets :  These popular products trace their origin to Ranidongri, a small town in Madhya Pradesh where local men and women weave baskets as a means of livelihood. Woven in almost every household in Ranidongri, these tokris or baskets are found in different shapes and sizes.

    Ranidogri-basket-handicrafts-india Image Credit - Gaatha.com

    Lappe Ka Kaam: Also popularly known as gota patti or zardousi, is a fine example of Rajasthan’s rich and centuries old royalty. It is a type of applique embroidery - a needlework technique in which patterns or representational scenes are created by the attachment of smaller pieces of fabric. Lappe ka kaam is seen a lot in bridal clothing these days.

    Lappe Ka Kaam handicrafts india

    Blue Pottery: This extremely time-consuming and tedious form of handicraft is worth every second and time. Blue pottery, as the name suggests is due to blue dye that is used. It is the only kind of pottery which does not use clay. A mixture of quartz stone powder, powdered glass, multani mitti, borax, gum and waterform its main composition. The Pink City – Jaipur is known and celebrated for its blue pottery .

    Blue Pottery handicrafts from India Image Credit - handicrafts India

    Kathputli: The famous mascot of Rajasthan, standing one-and-a-half feet tall, are manufactured in Sawai – Madhopur, Bari and Udaipur. They are commonly seen in puppets shows across the country.

  • Different Styles of Paintings in India: A Rich Legacy

    India is a vast country with numerous cultures and traditions. Indian paintings depict the various cultures and traditions right from the early civilization till today. Although, with time, the different styles of painting have also undergone changes, becoming more or less a blend of different cultures.

    ‘Murals’ and ‘Miniatures’ are the two main classes into which Indian paintings can be categorized. ‘Mural’ is referred to the huge works of art done mainly on walls, which started in the ancient and early medieval times. These are those done in the Ajanta Caves, Ravan Chhaya rock Shelter, Armamalai Cave in Tamil Nadu and Kailashnath Temple in Ellora Temple. These paintings are mainly based on religious themes of the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions. ‘Miniature’ paintings are small sized paintings, done for books and albums etc. The first miniature painting was perhaps done on palm-leaf. The early paintings were the miniatures of the murals and also had a religious theme.

    Gradually, many types of paintings evolved. These include Eastern, Western, Mughal, Malwa, Deccan and Jaunpur, Mysore, Tanjore, Rajput, Kangra, Madhubani, Pattachitra, Bengal, Contextual, Vernacular and Modern paintings. There are marked differences in the style of each type of paintings. Let us have a look at some of the major types of paintings, the special techniques involved in executing them and also how they are different from each other:

    The Mysore painting is a South Indian classical form of painting which emerged in the city of Mysore in Karnataka. It comprises mostly of the paintings of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and vistas of the Hindu legends. These paintings are outcome of various stages; firstly, the sketch is drawn on a paper pasted on a wooden base. Then, ‘gesso paste’, which is a mixture of zinc oxide and Arabic gum, is taken on a thin brush and applied on the parts of the painting which need to be given a raised effect of carving to highlight details. After it dries up, thin gold foil is pasted over it and rubbed with a smooth stone so as to enhance the richness in the relief work. The rest of the sketch is painted with soft colors. Initially, the colors used came from leaves, flowers and minerals. But nowadays, poster colors and water colors are used for the purpose.

    Mysore_painting

    Tanjore Painting is yet another South Indian style of painting, which originated in Tanjore, in Tamil Nadu in the 9th century. The main theme of these paintings is God and Goddesses and Hindu mythological scenes. The sketch is drawn on a cloth pasted over a wooden base. This base is then made smoother by applying a mixture of zinc oxide and adhesive on it. To give the image a beautiful and attractive look, semi- precious stones, pearls, glass pieces, laces and threads are used to embellishthe jewelry and the apparels. Then, gold foils are pasted over it and bright colored dyes are used for coloring the figures.

    Thanjavur-Painting-KrishnanMadhubani Painting originated in the Mithila region of Bihar. The themes of the paintings include vistas of the royal court, occasions such as weddings, Hindu Gods and traditions etc. In this unique style of painting, colors are obtained naturally from leaves, herbs and flowers. Other techniques were also adopted to obtain different colors from natural products, for example black color was createdby adding soot to cow dung, yellow color was obtained by mixing turmeric with milk of banyan tree, and so on. A distinguishing feature of theMadhubani paintings is that no space is left empty; rather, it is filled with paintings of flowers, birds, animals or even geometric designs. The brush used for these paintings were made by wrapping cotton cloth around a bamboo stick. Double lines are drawn for outlines and the gaps are filled by cross or smallstraight lines.

    Madhubani_Painting_'Krishna_and_Radha'The Mughal Paintings emerged in the Mughal period i.e. the 16th to 19th century and were done in miniatures. Mughal paintings were the outcome of the combination of Persian, Islamic and the Indian styles. These paintings were mostly depiction of scenes of battles, hunting and court. Legendary stories andwildlifealso form some of the popular themes.

    Mughal PaintingsThe famous Mughal paintings include series of Hamzanama, which were painted on cloth in Persian Safavi style. The artists used golden color abundantly as a symbol of prosperity. Bright colors such as red, blue, and green were used, evocative of Persia as they were done mainly by the Persian artists. Later, Indian artists were employed and so Indian tones can be seen in the later works.

    The Bengal style of art emerged in the British period in the 20th century. It was the outcome of nationalist movement against the academic art styles. The Bengal art was influenced by the Mughal art and exhibited the discrete religious qualities of India and symbols of national aspiration. They drew inspiration from non western art tradition and tried to capture the religiousspirit of the East. Later on,that is, post-Independence, the Bengal style of art became modern.

    Paintings are a wonderful medium of expression of ideas, feelings, cultures and traditions. The beauty and uniqueness ofIndian Paintings lies in its diversity, as each style of painting is a reflection of the legends, mythologies, cultures, tradition and history of the place(s) it originated from. A comparative observation of these styles can be a great source of knowledge of history!

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