अस्तित्वम् तत् सत्।
It is written in Manusmriti “Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah”, which means “Dharma protects the one who protects Dharma”.
Visual Art | Indian Traditional Art | Folk Art
India is a nation of veritable treasures, at once interesting to the tourists as well as to the enquiring art lovers of Indian Art. India has been the birth place of three major religions of the world-Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism; these have inspired most of her art. India’s artistic traditions are ancient and deeply rooted in religion. While at various times in her long history, foreign races and cultures exercised some influence on Indian art forms, the main aesthetic currents remained predominantly Indian.
Visual Art forms have a incredible significance in the civilization and tradition of Indian Society. Indian Visual Arts are well praised by people, around the globe.
Visual Art in India interlaces with the cultural history, religions and philosophies with their origin from the deepest roots in the history of civilization. Indian Art is considered the amalgamation of spirituality and sensuality, symbolism and reality from pre-historic to the present era. Indian visual art consists of a widest variety of art forms, including painting, sculpture, pottery, carving and textile arts such as woven silk. Indian art originated about five thousand years ago, sometime during the peak of the Indus Valley civilization. Largely influenced by a civilization that came into existence in the 3rd millennium BCE, it blends the spiritual and the sensual, making it rather distinctive in form and appearance. However, as time passed, Indian art has undergone several transformations and has been influenced by various cultures, making it more diverse, yet more inclusive of its people as well. On its way to modern times, Indian art has had cultural influences, as well as religious influences such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam. In spite of this complex mixture of religious traditions, generally, the prevailing artistic style at any time and place has been shared by the major religious groups. In historic art, sculpture in stone and metal, mainly religious, has survived the Indian climate better than other media and provides most of the best remains. Many of the most important ancient finds that are not in carved stone come from the surrounding, drier regions rather than India itself. Indian funeral and philosophic traditions exclude grave goods, which is the main source of ancient art in other cultures. Indian artist styles historically followed Indian religions out of the subcontinent, having an especially large influence in Tibet, South East Asia and China. Indian art has itself received influences at times, especially from Central Asia and Iran, and Europe.
There are four prime time periods of Indian history which influenced art and reflect certain cultural, religious, social and political developments.
There is evidence that India’s history began about 75,000 years ago. From c. 3300 to 1300 BCE, the Indus Valley Civilization flourished in the northwest of the country, extending to present day Pakistan. A technologically advanced and sophisticated urban culture came about with the Harappan period, which was subsequently followed by The Bronze Age and later, The Iron Age Vedic Civilization. Rock paintings and temple art can be traced back to the artistic expressions of ancient India. The 13th century saw the beginning of Muslim rule in India, which went on for two centuries before several powerful Hindu kingdoms emerged in the 15th century.
With the establishment of many Islamic states in the 12th century, there was a gradual Muslim conquest in India. It resulted in the emergence of the Mughal Empire which ruled majority of India from mid 16th to mid 19th century. However, the Mughal rule gradually declined as the Marathas came into power and the end of its dominance and is marked by the Indian Rebellion in 1857 and the start of the British rule. During Islamic rule, the imperial, provincial and mughal style of architecture flourished.
This era marks the time when European powers, through conquest and trade, were at their peak in India. It began with Alexander the Great, whose rule was brief, lasting only from 327-326 BC. Towards the end of the 15th century, India saw its next major European influence, Vasco da Gama, who established direct trade links with India. Sometime during the 17th century, Netherlands, France, England and Denmark began to trade with India and by the 18th century, the Maratha rule declined, leaving the country open to European exploitation. The defeat of Tipu Sultan led to rapid expansion of British power and by mid 19th century British India was born under the governance of the British Empire. During this time, the Bengal School of Art was formed. Also, a select group of artists introduced many avant garde western styles into Indian art.
After decades of rule under the British Raj, India finally became independent on 15 August 1947. However, during this time ancient India was separated by “The Partition of India”, resulting in the formation of the Dominion of Pakistan and today’s India. A new constitution was established in 1950, which made India a democratic and secular state. These various periods have greatly influenced Indian art over the centuries. They have impacted sculpture and temple art, painting and even jewelry. The post colonial period saw the rise of many Indian artists who pushed artistic boundaries, resulting in what we call contemporary art today.
In the wake of the 19th century, India saw a rise of an entirely new form of visual arts. This was vastly different and unique from the earlier art forms. In Bengal, for example, rural artists like scroll painters (patuas) and potters (kumors) started moving towards Calcutta and started a new trend. Flocking to the religious center- Kalighat, these artists established their haven. While traditional scroll paintings had a flat affect, these migrated artists started giving a rounded form to their subjects. Almost all paintings in this new found art form were religious and centered on gods and goddesses. Furthermore, as the society around them started changing rapidly, the Kalighat artists included the social norms, cultures, and values of the new generation Calcutta.
The late 1800 scroll paintings depict the west-influenced men and women, their changing attire, culture, but most of all these in a satirical manner. Soon, these kinds of paintings were reproduced for popular consumption. That was probably when the concept of printing was introduced in this region. The images were engraved in wooden blocks and then transferred on paper, something like you might see today also, only with added technology. And, eventually, by late 19th century, mechanical printing press found its way across different regions of the country, which allowed these artists to produce artworks in large volumes. Thus, visual arts became easily accessible to the common man.
By later 19th century, as the country was developing a strong sense of nationalism, artists also tried to add this sentiment to their visual arts. One of the first such artists was Raja Ravi Varma, who created a mix of modern and nationalist art. As a descendant of the royal family of Travancore, Kerala, his art forms depicted realistic, oil paintings of the royalties, as well as mythological stories. In contrast, in Bengal, a group of nationalist artists led by Rabindranath Tagore, developed an art form without the Western influence. This arm of national visual arts focused on traditional miniature paintings and murals.
Traditional Folk Art Forms | Indian Visual Art
Wooden painted toys from Kondapalli are famous for their finely crafted figures of animals and people. The wood is locally sourced and adds a touch of aesthetics to rooms with their spindly figures. These toys have carved out a niche of their own in the world of handicrafts. Kondapalli Toys are made from wood and are from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Artisans with nimble fingers carve wooden characters with aplomb, as the characters emerge from light soft wood. The wooden piece is heated to make it moisture-free. For each part of the carving, a different carved design is made. The sections are then glued using an adhesive obtained by crushing tamarind seeds. The traditional craft of crafting remains popular and is an important way for many people to earn a living. Craftspeople, known as Aryakhastriyas, who form the ‘Nakarshalu’ family and weave these yokes were mentioned in Brahmanda Purana, which was compiled over 400 years ago.
The artisans are said to have migrated from Rajasthan in the 16th century to Kondapalli and claims their origin to Muktharishi, a sage endowed with skills in arts and crafts by Lord Shiva. Water colours and oil pastels are the two different types of materials typically used to paint toys or figurines. The paints may be applied with a soft and thin brush made from goat’s hair.
Kondapalli Toy Art | Based in India, is locked in a battle for market share against the competition. They are not only competing with other Indian toy manufacturers but also against Chinese machine made toys which can be manufactured much more cheaply.
Term “Chitrakathi” comes from two words: “chitra” meaning picture and “katha” meaning story. A Chitrakathi is someone who tells stories, with a visual aid. Tribal life has a long-standing tradition of such storytellers. Chitrakathi is an occupational caste whose traditional livelihood was to narrate stories aided with pictures sojourning various places. Chitrakathi is a combination of two words from the Sanskrit language: chitra meaning picture and katha meaning story. With this app, a Chitrakathi is the one who narrates stories with a visual aid. There’s a long-standing tradition of this in tribal life.
This art form, called Chitrakathi, is practiced within the Thakar tribe in Maharashtra. They are wandering musicians who perform the traditional stories at different villages. They would make a series of single sheets of paintings. All paintings belonging to one story were kept in a bundle called a ‘pothi’. Painting themes include local versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata as well as mythological stories.
Chitrakathi Painting | The use of brownish tones of stone colors gives a remarkable effect. Figures in paintings were generally stylized. These traditional art forms were lost in the villages of Maharashtra but the greatest king of all times, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who were a lover of art, showed this talent to the world.
These stories were conserved during attacks in temples but after the times were better Maharaj revived them and honored these beautiful art forms.
Rajasthani paintings are divided into different schools, one of which is the Kishangarh School of Art. Kishangarh Painting is a style of Indian painting that originated in the city of Kishangarh, India. The school has a distinct appearance with a religious atmosphere. The facades of the buildings were aggressive and distracted from the sublime, while because of their delicate form, they responded to female heads with strong facial features that were drawn in a very different way from previous generations.
Artists of Kishangarh created beautiful, intricate miniatures under the rule of Maharaja Savant Singh, the 18th-century Rajput king. He was a devotee of Krishna and this influenced his rule. Therefore, most paintings were based on the romantic stories of Krishna and Radha. The Radha Krishna in these paintings were, in fact, used to represent Maharaja Savant Singh and his mistress and later his wife, Vishnupriya. The paintings are titled “Radha Krishan” because they depict the story of their love. Maharaja Savant Singh’s mother employed Vishnu Priya as a court singer, after she charmed him with her beautiful singing. The desire to spend time with Vishnu Priya grew into love, and they got married in 1740. As the wife of Maharaja Savant Singh, Vishnupriya adorned herself with exquisite makeup to represent her royal stature. She became known for her elegant style which she displayed through her makeup and other accessories.
Bani Thani Art | Which is a Mughal miniature painting, has been speculated to be the influence behind Kishangarh facial types.
Dokra Damar tribes are the main traditional metalsmiths in West Bengal and Odisha, whose technique of lost wax casting is named after them. Dokra Art (also called Dhokra) named after Dhokras tribe, a nomadic group that extends from Jharkhand to the southern state of West Bengal and the eastern state of Odisha. They can be traced back to a few hundred years ago when they traveled extensively, going as far as Kerala and Rajasthan.
Dokra is non–ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique. This sort of metal casting has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used. One of the earliest known lost wax artefacts is the dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro. There are two main processes of lost wax casting: solid casting and hollow casting. While the former is predominant in the south of India the latter is more common in Central and Eastern India. Solid casting is one of the most common techniques in creating an impression mould and only requires a solid piece of wax. Hollow casting, on the other hand, uses a clay core.
To create an intricate, high-quality Dokra Art sculpture, the artist creates a model in clay. This is coated with wax so it can be cast in metal. The lost-wax process of wax casting involves two phases: solid casting and hollow casting. The wax is made up of pure bee’s wax, resin and nut oil. To make a wax model, the parts to be cast are first coated with hairless wax, which is shaped to form a copy of the object. Fine clay is then applied over this and left in the shade where it hardens. When this is dry, a layer of more clay is applied and holes are made in it so that metal can be poured into them.
Dokra Art | The sculptures are created by using clay, shapes, and molds. The clay model is sun-dried and later fired in a traditional kiln – this will cause the wax to melt and flow away from the mold through the holes. To complete this step, molten metal is poured into these same holes to cool down.
The traditional process of making a brass relief starts with the sculptor creating a clay model, which is then sun-dried. This process dehydrates the clay around the object, leaving it hollowed out. When cooled down, molten brass metal is poured into it through holes in the sculpture. This causes an expensive vacuuming process which removes any droplets of metal unable.
Chittara Art is an autochthonous art practice. It is a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon of the Deevaru community, a matriarchal and an agrarian community of nature worshipers, residing in an around Sagar. It is engaged primarily by the Women folk of the community as a socio-cultural practice, which embodies a microcosm of socio-cultural dynamic.
Nestled in the ranges of verdant western ghats of North Canara lives Deevaru community. Chittara drawings are intricate patterns, that represent the auspicious ceremony and rituals of life, symbolized in geometric patterns. This requires a certain understanding of ratios and proportions, which the women of the community have been using with great dexterity. This folk art was and still is a part of their day-to-day life. It was never a profession, but a practice that has artistic and socio-cultural value.
The paintings are usually 2 – 3 feet in size, aesthetically refined, made of symbols representing their physical environment. They use eco-friendly natural resources like ground rice paste for white colour, roasted rice for black, yellow seeds (Gurige) red earth and the brushes are made up of Pundi Naaru.
Chittara Painting | For women of the Deevaru community Chittara paintings are a source of great joy, beauty and creativity. They are proud of their tradition, socially bonded and culturally integrated by unique customs and ritualistic practices. Undoubtedly, the wealth of artistic workmanship holds eternal value. Amidst the urban landscape, the treasures of handicrafts like Chittara will certainly provide enriching relief in our daily life.
One of the most popular forms of art in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Bhojpuri Painting has played a major role in the development and sustenance of art culture. Dating back to 1300 BC, it is even older than King Ashoka himself.
It is difficult to gauge the exact origin of this art form. Certain facts from the past make us believe that these paintings surfaced during the reign of King Ashoka. Bihar is always being under the major hotspot for education, culture, and power. Bihar is the 9th largest state in India. It is a historical and ancient land. The Bihar region was historically known as Magadha, one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of ancient India. Many great Buddhist scholars and monasteries lived in this land. Bihar is a state with a rich heritage of culture and knowledge. It has been an education hotspot for many centuries.
Bhojpuri Painting | There are two major forms of Bhojpuri painting, Kohbar and Pidhiya. Kohbar paintings depict love and gratification, while Pidhiya paintings portray assorted subjects such as gods, goddesses, animals, plants and flowers. The paintings at this Hindu temple are often related to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, which according to the Vedas was not only a powerful union but also one of the most stable marriages in history.
Bhojpuri Painting is often thought to profile Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, snakes, birds and lotus plants. It’s also a popular wedding gift as it’s believed to bring good luck to couples on their wedding day.
The Cheriyal Scrolls paintings are made in Hyderabad. They are made by ragi dough that is shaped into scrolls and then hand painted with vegetable colors. The scrolls depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata or other epic folk stories. The traditional art form was inseparable from the job of the story-telling, balladeer community known as Kaki Padagollu.
The scroll would go up to 40-45 feet long. It would usually be about 3 ft wide and written in vertical format. Traditional scrolls are set horizontally, meaning it shows the story spread across the page. These canvas scrolls made from Khadi are hand-painted in a style unique to the local motifs and iconography. Characterised by a dominance of the colour red in the background, these brilliantly hued paintings even received Geographical Indication Status in 2007. Painted in panels as a narrative, these are like comic strips from the past, depicting scenes and stories from Indian mythology and epics. Distinct in their style they immediately convey age-old Indian traditions and customs in a beautiful and engaging manner.
Cheriyal Painting | A floral border in the middle separates the two panels, while the linear narrative is demonstrated by holding in both hands or suspending it from a tree or a building and continually rolling it. Like large sized comic strips, each panel of the scroll depicted one part of the story. Hence, a scroll would easily have around 50 panels.
The Kutch Lippan Art is a form of art that originated from the Kutch region in Gujarat. This form of art is a result of a fusion of the traditional Kutch crafts with British and Indian techniques. Lippan art is a traditional craft native to Gujarat. The mud and mirror work features materials such as clay and the dung of the local camel population, which allows for an interesting effect that keeps homes cool. Though they’re originally from Kutch, these scintillating murals can be found on the outer walls as well. You can notice these murals on both exterior and interior walls. They provide a type of beauty to a generally harsh way of life in the region.
Rabari is the pastoral community from Kutch who live in villages. They live in houses called Bhungas which are designed to accommodate their practical needs. Women from the Rabari community are typically in charge of mud and mirror work. They don’t trace or draw a pattern before beginning the work. This has made them especially skilled at this art form.
This art form has a hoary past as no records are available to trace its origin. Various communities in Kutch do mud-washing in their own distinct style. A common practice in Kutch, India is the art of mud-washing. Mud-washing is an ancient form of folk art practiced by various communities around the world, but the origins of this particular art form are unclear. Various communities in Kutch do mud-washing in their own distinct style.
Traditional Lippan Art | Artists/craftspeople in the Muslim community practicing this form of art tend to stick to geometric patterns. Depicting the human or animal form is considered deeply inappropriate.
Mud mirror work has gathered attention from the modern world for its intricate pattern and aesthetic perfection and has made a full transition from its unknown, modest stature to the mainstream art world, decorating the walls of urban homes.
The Bhil Tribe is native to western and central India. Today, there are fifty of them, which makes them the third largest community in India. The Bhil tribe once used to be mainly hunters back in time and they were skilled archers too. They have long taken to agriculture and some have migrated to large cities taking up masonry, road making and other manual labour. Art is integral to the Bhil community. Song, dance and painting, accented with feasting and drinking is used to mark events, store memories and fight despair and disease. Steeped in rituals, symbolism and tradition, the rich textures of their paintings connect them to nature and the Adivasi life that is their legacy.
Bhil paintings are a form of folk art, an art produced by the common people or folk artists from Bhil community. It is believed to be the oldest surviving form of Indian painting and has been practiced for over two millennia. The Bhils are a large tribal community residing in central India (Madhya Pradesh). They can trace their ancestry to Eklavya and Valmiki, who, they say, was actually from their community.
Distinctive Dots : Stories, prayers, memories and traditions are painted onto plain backgrounds in a symphony of multihued dots. The first step to learning the art for many Bhil artists began with mastering the dots. Skillfully repeating equal sized, uniform dots in rhythmic patterns and colours. The dots are the distinct identity of Bhil art, and have multiple layers of symbolism, inspired by the kernels of maize, their staple food and crop.
Bhil Painting | Each group of dots often represents a particular ancestor or deity. Additionally, each artist composes the dots in distinctive patterns encoding each art work with signatures visible to the trained eye.
These paintings were traditionally painted on the walls of their huts and the themes were centered on Mother Nature. They use a pattern of dots to fill in their paintings and are surprisingly similar to Australian Aboriginal art. Everything connected with the Bhil life is painted- the Sun, The Moon, insects, birds, fields, trees, mythological figures and their Gods.
Assamese Miniature painting is a technique in which art is painted on a small surface. The size of the painting varies from 1 inch to 24 inches in height and 8 inches to 12 inches in width. It is often made on ivory, wood, metal or paper. Assam has a rich history of its tradition, art and culture and it flourished in the 16th century. The Bhakti movement spread in medieval times, thanks to Sankaradeva’s work (1449-1569) and helped create a culture of lively paintings.
Assamese manuscript paintings may be grouped under the following categories. Sattriya or Sankari style, Gadgayan or Royal Style, Darrangi or Folk Style, Tai Style.
The process of making an Assamese miniature starts withdrawing outlines for the composition on paper. The outlines are then filled with color using water-based paints or gouache. The final step involves inserting miniscule details to the entire painting after it has dried up completely. It is said that the latex of Kendu tree duck’s eggs or tamarind seeds were used as adhesive with all the colours. But the fruit of Wood Apple was used as the best adhesive. The proportion that you should mix the adhesive to colour is illustrated. Assamese manuscripts are traditionally drawn on bark of the agar leaf, tulpap (paper pulp made from tulas leaves) or wooden plates. Sanchipat is a local writing material that cannot be found elsewhere.
Assamese Miniature Painting | The Agar tree is a medicinal plant, and as such, its preparation procedure is unique. Moreover, the tree is a very expensive one to acquire the bark from it in order to make Sanchipat. It is very interesting to learn about how traditional ink was extracted to write manuscripts in medieval Assam. This shows how passionate and curious the people there are. Ink or Mohi was generally prepared with extracts of Silikha, Keheraj, Amla, and bulls urine and barks of some of the trees. The extract collected from Kechu (earthworm) and blood of Kuchia ( Asian Swamp Eel ) may also added to enhance the brightness of ink. The other necessary units for preparing a manuscript such as well craft pens are made of bamboo, quill and a kind of fern called Kaap Dhekia. Handmade brushes are made from squirrel hair. The measuring equipments are called kathi which are made of bamboo and used to measure the alignment of text.
Aipan art originated from Almora in Uttarakhand, which was founded during the reign of the Chand dynasty. It flourished during the reign of the Chand dynasty in the Kumaon region. The Chand dynasty was a Hindu Rajput dynasty that ruled much of the northern Indian subcontinent around the 10th century.
The art form has many regional variations. Its origins are in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand. Aipan art is an ancient style of painting depicting mostly Jain, Hindu and Buddhist themes. The designs and motifs in Aipan Art are motivated by the beliefs of the community and various aspects from nature. Some people believe that writing on empty walls with a reddish paint brings about good fortune. Others believe that this is just an aesthetic custom which has no meaning, but it’s still pretty cool.
The creation of rice flour art has deep cultural and religious significance in Kumaon. It is often found on the floor and walls of Puja rooms, as well as at entrances to homes. This form of artisanry is mostly practiced by women from this region
Aipan art is a type of folk art that originates in Kumaon in the Indian Himalayas. It is done at special occasions and rituals usually.
A Kolam is a geometrical line drawing made up of straight lines, curves and loops, constructed around a dot grid pattern. Kolams are generally considered auspicious symbols and are believed to bring prosperity to homes. The kolam is made by drawing concentric circles around a central dot. The number of circles that are drawn denotes the number of evil spirits that can be eliminated from the premises. Kolams are generally drawn on clean floors with rice flour, jaggery, or chalk powder. Kolams are typically drawn when the surface is still damp so that the design will hold onto it better. Instead of rice flour, occasionally white stone powder is used to create kolams. They also use cow dung to wax down their floors during these occasions.
In some cultures, cow dung is believed to have antiseptic properties and provides literal threshold protection for the home. It also provides nice contrast with the pure white powder. The decorations in Kolams are not to be taken literally. In the olden days, the lines were drawn using coarse rice flour that ants could eat without having to walk too far or too long. The rice powder also invites birds and other small creatures to eat it, thus welcoming other beings into one’s home and everyday life: a daily tribute to stark co-existence. Indian homes, welcome Lakshmi and the prosperity and wealth she brings. Decorative patterns range from very geometric designs that use repeating shapes around a square of dots to more fluid artwork that fills the entire space.
Kolam Floor Painting | Kolam is one of the most popular art forms in South India. It is said that Kolam was created to please the goddess Mariamman, who is believed to bless all homes that are decorated with it. The designs can be complex and intricate, but they are not impossible to understand if you take the time.
Although not as flamboyant as the other Indian folk art, Rangoli, which is very colorful, a South Indian Kolam is all about symmetry, precision and complexity.
Godna Art or Tattooing has been a part of Indian culture for a very long time. It is popular in tribal societies as well as those in the North & Central regions. In Northern and Central India it is called “Godna” tattooing which was observed as being typical of primitive tribes groups. Godna art is the term used to describe permanent ornamentation of the body with tattoos. It is mostly practiced in Chhattisgarh state of India. Godna art is regarded as a type of postmodern body decoration where one’s creativity can be expressed & displayed on their skin. Gonda, like other forms of tattooing, needs artistic dexterity and precision.
The main purpose of tattooing one’s body is to obtain acceptance from society. Sometimes tattoos are also done on areas of the body that are not readily visible. The art itself provides an ideal canvas for originality and self-expression, which is what everyone wants. Tribal folks in the state also wear ornamentation which differs from their process and meaning. It is deeply rooted in their spirituality and belief. They believe ornaments are mortal and human made like humans themselves.
Tattoos are commonly used as permanent body decorations and often emblematic of a certain group or identification. The tribal women of Chhattisgarh, India decorate their bodies with tattoos called “Godna.” Some tribal people have traditional tattoos. Tribal beliefs say that it’s often the only decoration that remains with a person after death. There are some interesting thoughts on why it started and some historians suggest. Some believe that tattoos were used as a form of communication in ancient times and some say they were just decoration. While some say the purpose of the art is still up for debate, others believe it was exclusively about personal aesthetics.
The different designs and patterns on tattoos can act as identification marks that can tell you a lot about the wearer. Some of the patterns that are most popular amongst people are the cross, star, moon, and butterfly. Girls generally prefer tattoo designs with flowers or geometric shapes on them, but young girls might find dots all over their face to be more fun. Girls also tend to choose a half-moon shape on their wrist that looks like a horseshoe. Elderly women tend to get tattoos of scorpions, deer, peacocks or flower-like patterns on their hands, ankles or shoulders.
Godna Art | Even today, Indian society continues pre-historic rock art tattoos as its popular tradition. Noteworthy Godna paintings are found in the areas of Rajanandgaon and Surguja, Chhattisgarh. It can also be found in Dindori, Madhya Pradesh and Madhubani Godna of Mithila, Bihar. Godna artists in Madhubani use natural colours derived from bark, leaf, flowers, and seeds to paint illustrations on the outside of their houses instead of depicting Hindu gods. Whereas, Brahmins and Kayasthas design the petals, animals, minerals, and vegetables on their huts.
Modernization has had a significant influence on the Godna art and artists. Tattooing has shifted from body to paper, cloth and canvas. Female tattooists have played an important role in the dissemination of Godna painting in India and abroad through exports like textile materials for garments, prints for gift items, handmade sculptures, etc.
The Jadopatia Painting of Jharkhand is a type of folk art that has been practiced in the Indian state of Jharkhand for centuries. The paintings are made with natural pigments on cloth, metal, wood, or leaves.
These are generally practiced by the Santhals, where artisans make scrolls called Jado or Jadopatia which are drawn with natural inks and colours. They are used to help people tell stories in the form of illustrations. They depict scenes from the faraway afterlife, beliefs in tiger Gods etc.
The Jadupatua paintings are vertical scroll paintings that were performed on cloth in earlier days but later these paintings were done on papers. The scrolls of traditional horizontal scrolls were made into vertical scrolls and the length of the painting was then reduced to allow more than one scene to be shown. The use of color is very subdued and mainly limited to earth tones such as brown, yellow, and orange. Most ancient scrolls were made from waste paper. Since paper was then scarce, good quality paper wasn’t available. The scrolls were made up of sheets of paper that were either glued or sewn together and often wrapped in fabric so as to protect the scroll’s contents.
The scroll was secured with a string at each end. Pieces of bamboo were sewn in to act as rollers, so the scroll could be wound tightly around them. Some scrolls were short and had two or three panels, while others could have 14 or more. The scroll paintings were mainly prepared for Santal audiences by a Hindu painter caste known as jadupatuas and collected in the Santal Parganas.
Jadopatia Painting | The brushes used by the ancient Jadupatuas are bunches of goats hair tied to a small stick. Earlier, they were painted using natural colors made from vegetables or minerals.
Gond Art has been practiced by the Gond tribe of Madhya Pradesh, India. Generally painted with dots and dashes or short lines, their illustrations feature complex patterns. It is a type of Mural painting done beautifully on the walls and floors as part of festival celebrations. Primarily using natural pigments for colors from vegetables, flowers, cow dung or mud etc. Gondi culture is the main background for the designs and patterns selected. Gondi is an Indian tribe that lives in the regions of Madhya Pradesh, Assam, and Andhra Pradesh. The unique feature of Gond painting is the fusion of living creatures with nature, they all seem connected.
The story of Gond Art is not complete without mentioning young Gond Tribal Artist Jangrah Singh Shyam, who transformed these mural paintings to canvas and paper in 1981 and tragically passed away in Japan under mysterious circumstances at the age of 39, promoting Gond Art in Japan. His style of Gond painting on paper and canvas is also widely known as Jangarh Kalam. Gond tribal artist Jangrah Singh Shyam, is a master of the Gond tradition. He creates contemporary art with natural materials such as bamboo and leaves. His work is on display in galleries and museums around the world including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Gond Art | The subject of Gond Art is predominantly natural, with animals, trees and birds. The designs and patterns selected are based on Gondi culture.
The term “Kalamkari” is said to have come from two Persian words, “Kalam”, which means pen, and “Kari”, which means craftmanship. Kalamkari Art became popular under the patronage of the Golconda sultanate.
Kalamkari is the Oriental word for the Indian village of Kalamkari where this type of hand-painted or block-printed textile was originally produced. Now, Kalamkari paintings are also made in Isfahan (Iran), Andhra (India) and Telangana (India). Only natural dyes are used in Kalamkari, which involves 23 steps. There are two distinctive styles of Kalamkari art in India – the Srikalahasti style and the Machilipatnam style.
To create Kalamkari, the cloth is first steeped in a mix of buffalo milk and astringents. This is then dried under sunlight. Afterwards, the colors for red, black, brown and purple are outlined with a mordant before being placed on the cloth. To dye a blue part of a cloth the next step is to cover other parts in wax and then immerse it in indigo dye. After the cloth is out of the indigo, scrape off the parts covered by wax and paint on any other areas needed. This time-consuming process is similar to Indonesian batik. To create contours for a design, artists use a pen which they created by attaching fine hair to the pointed end of bamboo or date palm. This is then soaked in a mixture of jaggery and water.
Kalamkari Painting | Kalamkari in particular depicts epics such as the Ramayana or Mahabharata. However, nowadays many pleasing figures such as musical instruments, small animals, flowers and the Buddha are also introduced thanks to modern technology.
The Kangra Paintings are an art form of Kangra, India. It is said that the craft was born in the 17th century and it has been passed down from generation to generation. It is still practiced today at various places in and around Kangra Valley.
One of the most famous styles of Indian art, Basohli, died out in 18th century. However since then many paintings have been created in this style that helped it become more popular than the Pahari art. This style reached its peak during the reign of Maharaja Sansar Chand Katoch (r.1776–1824) who was a huge supporter of Kangra art. The paintings he commissioned where large in size and fueled the work for others providing them with more commissions.
Maharaja Sansar Chand was an ardent devotee of Krishna and often commissioned artists to paint scenes from Krishna’s life. The main subject in Kangra paintings is Shringar (an romantic sentiment).
Kangra painting is most well-known for its graceful lines, bright colours and detailed décor- it follows a style similar to that of Ajanta. This style of painting used a fine type of brush that was made from squirrel hair. In addition to using pure colors to paint the Kangra region, the colors have retained their vibrancy over time.
Kangra Art | The subjects portrayed in Kangra paintings of that era reflect the culture and lifestyle of the society. Bhakti cult was at its peak, while Krishna-Radha love story had strong spiritual connotations. The Kangra paintings which were influenced by the Bhagavad Purana often depicted scenes from Krishna’s life in Brindavan or the Yamuna river. The other popular themes included the story of Nala and Damayanti, and Keshavdas’s Baram.
Kurumbas are one of the five communities which occupy various altitudinal zones of the Nilgiri ranges, the Kurumbas are believed to be the descendants of the Pallavas. These Indigenous tribes are known for their healing power, hunting skills and knowledge of medicinal plants.
In subject, the Kurumba art style is quite similar to the Warli and Saura folk painting styles. The key difference between these three is in their style. Whereas both Warli and Saura depict elaborate figures, a Kurumba artwork has a cleaner geometric style. The Kurumba painting is characterized by its concentric arrangement of colours. It features more than three colors.
The figures in the paintings seem to be dancing even though they are most likely performing different tasks. Consider the level of detail in how they are drawn. The figures featured in the painting are recognized by their bunned hair. One group is known as the Warli and the other, Saura. These two groups have two bodies but these figures only feature one almost rectangular shaped body.”
Unlike the other folk art of Warli and Saura, animals are not often seen in Kurumba paintings. This is quite different than these other two forms of folk art which contain a lot animal imagery. Animals help to keep villages safe from harm. So, it is possible that this lack of animals in their art is representative of the role they play. Animals like elephants and deer are often shown to be grazing in the background. Natural colors obtained from leaves and tree resins are traditionally used for illustrations in the Kurumba art form. Artists traditionally use red, mustard, black, and green.
Kurumba Painting | These are obtained from the bark of trees or from the leaves of plants. The tree resin and leaves are mixed with red and white mud varieties. A piece of cloth is used to apply colours onto walls built using cow dung. In the past, rock surfaces, the outer walls temples and houses were used as the canvas for painting. Today, the artists use watercolor on handmade paper
Krishnan is believed to be the only surviving Kurumba art specialist from his community.
The Kalighat paintings are a tradition of religious art prevalent in West Bengal, India. The paintings of the Hindu goddess of the same name, Kali, are painted on cloth and can be seen on roadside stalls and shops. These paintings depict various scenes from Hindu mythology and people believe that they bring good luck and prosperity.
The Kalighat paintings originated from being items people would buy when they visited the Kalighat Kali Temple in West Bengal, India. The paintings have been around since the 19th century and have developed a lot over time. The Kalighat paintings started off with illustrations of Hindu gods & deities, but quickly diversified to show a variety of topics from everyday life. In the 19th century, traditional scroll paintings were flourishing in Bengal. These paintings were popular in rural areas and were the only form of art that could compete with European styles.
These paintings were done on this kind of material. They usually depict the gods and goddesses as well as scenes from epics like Tulsidas’ Rama Charita Manas. The artists depicted medieval epics on scrolls and travelled around singing the stories to listeners. They were called patuas.
Kalighat Art | One of the many achievements in Kalighat painting is that they made simple paintings and drawings. These images were easily reproduced by lithography and then later hand colored.
This trend continued up to the early part of the twentieth century and these paintings ended up in museums and private collections. The charm of Kalighat paintings lies in the fact that they captured the essence of daily life, and influenced modern artists.
Kalamezhuthu is a traditional art form that originated in Kerala. The art form uses the patterns of rice flour paste and water colours on a cloth to create elaborate paintings. The whole process of Kalamezhuthu is done by using the hands only and it cannot be erased or reused, which makes it an exclusive and exquisite art form.
‘Kalamezhuthu’ is a type of medieval Hindu art that was popular in the south of India from around 1750-1850. The word means ‘drawing pictures’, and pictures of gods and goddesses became the central theme. A lot of religious art is done in the form of ritualistic drawings – for example, pictures of gods created by using coloured powders. It is believed that such depictions are there to ‘welcome’ gods.
The art form is accompanied by a long chant sung before the performance starts. It’s done on the floor, which is what gives it its meaning in this context. The artform sees all of Earth as one large canvas to paint on. Kalamkari use natural colors from materials such as charcoal, turmeric, leaves and rice. White is derived from rice, black from charcoal, yellow from turmeric and green from leaves. Red can be made by mixing other colors.
Kalamezhuthu Art | During November & December, you can see Kalamezhuthu performances at many different Devi temples in Kerala. The maestros use coloured powder to create beautiful drawings of the Gods on the floor. Some of them include Bhadrakaali, Ayyappan, Serpent or Vettakkorumakan.
Kerala Mural Art is one of the most well known and distinctive forms of art from Kerala, India. The Kerala Mural Paintings are a form of temple art that have been practiced in Kerala for over 2000 years and has been preserved through generations by local artists. Although they have been influenced by western techniques, they have retained their Indian roots.
They have a close connection to the daily life of the people, and express the religious and cultural traditions of Kerala. The art form can be seen in religious & cultural traditions of Kerala, and depicts scenes from the traditional Puranas as well as daily life of local people. They can also demonstrate an individual’s inner conviction, confidence in their beliefs, traditions & customs. Kerala’s own style of murals has been seen in the Thirunadhikkara Cave Temple and Tiruvanchikulam. These murals have been dated to around 400 A.D.
A mural is a large painting on a wall that often depicts a story. The word is the Latin word for the word ‘wall’, which correlates with them being painted on either side of a wall. It is painstakingly prepared prior to being painted. Traditional murals are painted with five colors, which are red, yellow, green, black and white. These all traditionally come from natural substances that the painter has on hand. Red, yellow and white paints were traditionally made from two sources: red laterite and white lime. Black paints were the result of oil-lamp soot deposits.
Three of the most popular mural pieces in Kerala are: the Shiva Temple of Ettumanoor, Ramayana murals from Mattancherry Palace and Vadakkumnatha Khatam.
Kerala Mural Painting | Mural artisans in Kerala were heavily patronized by various rulers, but they thrived more during times of Indian rule. However, under British colonialism this art form suffered considerably.
After India gained independence in 1947, murals had less stigma. Since then, they have been on the rise in temples in Kerala. The Centre for Study of Mural Paintings is a school established in the Thrissur district of Kerala by the Guruvayur Dewaswom Board under the chief instruction of Mammiform Krishnan Kutty Nair, representing revival programme of this traditional art form.
The Kavad is a portable wood-carved shrine that is traditionally used to house and worship Hindu gods and goddesses. They are usually beautifully carved and painted panels in a traditional style. The Kavad has been the prized possession of the Suthar community in Mewar for over 500 years, with several families claiming to be its originators.
The enjoyment of stories has been around since the dawn of civilization. We love listening to new stories, old stories, and especially ones about gods who punish the wicked. There are plenty of storytellers in the world and one form that stands out is a mobile storyteller, who carries beautiful stories in a colorful house-like structure. This is the kavad. Suthars are typically made from wood cut from the Neem tree and traditionally red was used as the color. However, over time this has changed to match customer demand.
The word Kavad probably comes from the word “Kivaadh” which means door. It can after-all be seen as a collection of doors or doors that open the layers of a story.
Kavad Painting | In another context, it is also used for ‘carrying on the shoulders’. Remember the Kavadiyas who carry the water of Ganga to their village temples.
The Kavadiya Bhat from Marwar takes it and brings it to his patrons’ houses in Rajasthan. The storytellers open the multiple panels one by one and recite lores and stories spread across various subjects. The art of this traditional art form is on the verge of extinction. It is believed that audiences become pilgrims as they listen to the sermon and follow along the story the priest tells.
Andhra Pradesh is famous for its traditional leather puppet art and craft. The leather puppets found in this state hail from the traditional folk and cultural expression of the region, known as Leather puppetry. A traditional form of shadow puppet theatre practised in Andhra Pradesh, it is known as Tollubommalu or Tollubommalatta. The name is derived from the Telugu word for leather, tollu and dolls or figurines, bommalu.
Leather puppets are usually made out of pieces of hide or stiff parchment, which are colored to make them bigger & heavier. They are more colorful & better-looking than similar craft work from other regions of the country. Certainly this is not the only form of performing arts in India. Works in shadow Puppet Theater often relate to themes in Hindu epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata–culture is deeply connected with religion. Places like Nimmalakunta in Ananthapur district, Narsaraopet in Guntur district and D.C. Palle in Nellore district are considered the main centers of leather puppet industry in Andhra Pradesh. Artisans in these places believe that theirs is a hereditary profession. The variety of people who participate in this form of craft is mostly the Marathi-Balija culture.
Creating a shadow puppet traditionally takes around 30-40 days. The amount of time required will vary depending on the complexity of the puppet. The first step of this process is to buy fresh goat hide from the weekly meat market. Next, it should be soaked in cold water for 2-3 hours before it can be cut and flattened with a heavy object like a hammer. To create leather, the animal’s skin is washed in warm water and dried in the sun. Once it is dry, it must be cut according to product requirements.
Goat skin is processed into the delicate, translucent parchment used in the creation of traditional puppets. The curing, washing, and cleaning process can take many months, but once completed an artisan will use a stylus to draw the outlines of the characters. Once finished drawing all distractions are removed from the surface through carving or scraping, leaving just a clean white sheet for ink. Holding the little windows up to the light makes the details of the puppet more visible. It also creates a glistening effect that makes it look visually appealing.
Leather Puppet Tollubommalu Art | Once the design is cut out on the hide, it is outlined with blank ink using a bamboo nib. Holes are punched as embellishment at this stage. The outlines of the figures are painted in black with the help of a bamboo nib. Thin strips of bamboo are sharpened at the edge to create a nib-like shape.
Once the figure is outlined, it’s then colored in vivid colors, such as red, green and ochre. Ink is used as a coloring agent and is applied with a brush. After marking up the outlines, different colors are filled into the main form. This requires painstaking precision and a considerable amount of time. While black, red and green are some of the common puppet colors and female characters and sages are usually yellow, once the puppets’ colors have been applied, the outlines on them are then drawn back in black. Leather puppet shows used to be incredibly popular in the past, until people started moving to urban areas. They played a significant role in society, educating & entertaining the rural masses by telling stories & providing lessons on Hindu mythology. TV’s arrival slowly made this art obsolete.
It is true that this art of weaving is on its last lap. However, many families of weavers who had their livelihood dependent on this unique art have started to switch to other handicrafts. Now they’re making wall hangings, lamp shades and other home décor artifacts out of animal hair too. You will find that the new generation is not interested in continuing this tradition. They are looking for another way to live.
Approximately 20 families in Nimmalakunta village are involved with the manufacture of Chitrakaras while a few have transitioned to individual farming.
Mandala is a Sanskrit word that can translate to “circle” or “discoid object.” These geometric designs have deep symbolic meaning in Hindu & Buddhist cultures. Mandalas are representations of various aspects of our universe which are used as instruments of meditation. They are also symbols of prayer, most notably in the East Asian countries, China, Japan and Tibet.
Around 560 BC, Gautama became increasingly aware of human suffering and left his kingdom in order to attain enlightenment through meditation and thoughtful action. Buddha preached his philosophy across parts of India and established the first sangha, a Buddhist community of monks. According to legend, Buddha began preaching his philosophy across parts of India, where he attracted followers and eventually established the first Buddhist community of monks. We first learn about mandalas through the travels of Buddhist monks who shared practical, moral pursuits with others. Through them, it spread to other Asian regions including Tibet, China, and Japan by the 4th century. The use of mandalas in Buddhist, Hindu, and various other religions is documented. Some painters of the spiritual craft were pious individuals who were commissioned for their work by a patron. They worked seated on the floor with a painting propped on their lap or in front of their crossed legs.
Hinduism and Buddhism have a tradition whereby one progresses towards the mandala’s center, which is believed to be filled with radiating joy. The mandala consists of concentric labyrinths enclosing the symbol of an object seen as supremely meaningful.
Mandala Art | A mandala is a circular design, usually contained within a square frame. They can be put together in sections, with a central point of organization. One of the most common things to make with a mandala is a yarn or thread outline on paper or cloth. It’s pretty cool to look at, often used as meditation aids. Some mandalas are created to represent specific beliefs or ideas.
Mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Asian cultures, which can have two meanings: externally, it is seen as a direct representation of the universe; internally, it is seen as road map for deep meditation techniques.
Madhubani Art also known as Mithila Art is a traditional Indian folk art that uses geometric patterns, contrasting colors & line drawings. The painting dates back to the time of Raja Janak, a king in a Mithila. He had a daughter named Sita who was married to Lord Ram. To celebrate her wedding, Raja Janak asked his subjects to decorate their city in beautiful ways. In the recent years, artists have been painting murals with geometric patterns on walls all around the city. They depict some rituals of weddings, births and celebrations.
Historically, Madhubani Art was passed down from generation to generation in the family of Mithila Region. The five distinctive styles are Bharni, Kachni, Tantrik, Godna and Kohbar.
Madhubani paintings are always two-dimensional and come with no empty spaces, usually filled with drawings of flowers, animals, birds, and other geometric designs. These paintings are traditionally produced on freshly plastered wall surfaces or floors of huts, but now they are also created on cloth, handmade paper or canvas. The paste required to make them usually contains powdered rice.
This painting is created with a variety of tools and naturally-made dyes. It features colourful geometric patterns which are pretty eye-catching, so it’s easy for anyone to see. Different cultural occasions & festivals often have their own associated rituals, such as Holi or Surya Shasti. Some of these can include Kali Puja, Upanayana and Durga Puja.
Madhubani Art | It depict scenes that reflect a connection to nature or religious ceremonies. Marriage is often depicted as a ritual called kanyadaan in India. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and tribal plants like tulsi are often painted in traditional art with scenes from daily life.
You’ll find wedding ceremonies in paintings alongside royal court scenes in most traditional work. There’s never a blank space left – it’s all filled up with flower paintings or other kinds of compliments to the previous work.
Mata Ni Pachedi’ literally means ‘behind the mother goddess’ and was worn as a draping that constituted the temple of worship for her. These textiles are sacred and act as a backdrop for daily rituals. Mata ni Pachedi is also called the Kalamkari of Gujarat because of its resemblance to the Kalamkari art of South India, which is also done with a pen made of bamboo.
The story goes that when the nomadic Vaghari community from Gujarat, who worship Mata, were not allowed to enter temples, they instead created their own places of worship with illustrations of the Mother Goddess (Mata) on pieces of cloth. Devipujaks are landless labourers. Their main livelihood comes from stone-cutting work or selling cattle, goats, vegetables and datan-twig toothbrushes. Their main deities are Meldi Mata, Kalika Mata, Khodiyar Maa and Bahuc. The Vaghris also believe in animal sacrifice for various rites where the consumption of meat and alcohol seems to be culturally accepted.
Mata Ni Pachedi Art | The original style of tie-dye only used two colors – black and red, made out of natural dyes. The artwork on the fabric is mainly about nature and artistic creations with light, animals and patterns all around. Traditional pachhedis & chandarvo are hand-painted & hand-printed. They can be rectangular and can contain human figures of the purvaj (ancestors).
Devi worshippers or other narrative themes with the mother goddess seated on her vahana in the centre without her consort. Mother Goddesses is represented in her five Vahanas (vehicles), Khodiyar mata (crocodile), Bahuchara/Becharaji mata (cock), Vahanvati mata (ship), Meladi mata (goat), and Dashama (camel).
You are no doubt aware of the Hindu festival of ‘Masan Pooja’. This is still practiced by the Rajbanshi tribe, particularly in North Bengal. They believe that Masan Devta exists as a ‘rudra’ god. This might seem at odds with other Hindu celebrations but it should be done nonetheless. That’s why people suffering from this think that ‘Masan Devta’ is responsible. They go to the occultists who sometimes scare the spirit away, other times drive it away.
The history of Masan deities is linked to the spread of ancient Buddhist religion of Tibet. They were neither considered as gods or demons and they were meant for worshipping near crematoriums. The word “Masan” is derived from the word ‘shashan’ in Bengali. An ethnic group-the Rajbonshis are the main patrons of this art form that they call masaņ chitrakala.
The early representations of the Masan deities were rendered in silk paintings that resembled Tibetan thangkas or paintings on cloth. They were said to have healing powers and the Masan paintings were often used for treatment. Since the closing of the Silk Route in North Bengal, Tantrik Buddhism has lost influence and is now limited to Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling & Coochbehar.
Masan Art | Nowadays, the regional deities of Masan are made out of cork, even though they still maintain their bizarre and frightening looks. The craftspeople who paint the ribbons are called malakar (garland makers). They make different patterns and structures with shola (a wild plant). They’re proud of their heritage and express it through the use of handmade brushes and natural pigments on shola motifs, which have special importance to Rajbongshi people.
There was no tradition of metal work in India before the Mughals. Many centuries ago, a Mughal ruler known as Raja Man Singh brought skilled artisans with him from Lahore and set them up in Jaipur. The Meenakari work in India is a tradition with a long history. The art form originated from Rajasthan. Subsequently, Meenakari work took roots in India and Jaipur went on to become the hub of Meenakari work in the country ever since.
Meenakari is a technique that takes a lot of skill to do. It’s performed with a metal object that’s attached to a lac stick & then detailed designs are etched or engraved into it. This leads to creating intricate pieces of art. Enamel dust of the desired color is poured along the design and the groove’s heat melts the enamel to a liquid form. This process is repeated again and again with different colors until a final product is created. Generally, white is laid down first and red last. After the final color has been fired it is cooled and buffed with agate to add depth. The underlying different colors determine how light plays off of the object. Both silver and gold are used as a base for Meenakari. Silver work the best with enamel because it’s a softer metal. But modern day Gold enamel is more popular because of its durability and long life span, especially when exposed to regular wear-and-tear or damage from heat or chemicals.
However, Meenakari work can be found on a wide range of metals like gold, silver and copper. The latest addition is white metal.
Meenakari Art | Jaipur is known as the center of Meenakari because it often uses Mughal colors to create its art. You can find items you need that have a red base to them, and they command a fancy price for their beauty.
Pichwai Art also known as “Pichvai” is a traditional Indian Indian folk art having its origins in Rajasthan, India. It consists of a series of painting on cloth using natural colors and vegetable dyes. The paintings are done with a natural brush made from animal hair or cotton threads.
Pichwai (pichvai) is a style of Indian folk art that originated over 400 years ago in the town of Nathdwara near Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Intricate & visually stunning, pichwai paintings are made on cloth and typically depict tales from Lord Krishna’s life. Pichwai arts are paintings of Lord Shrinath which are usually carried out on fabric in dark, rich colors. These Indian folk arts have an ancient religious significance and are done by hand with great devotion by the artist. Most texts under this style revolve around Shrinathji, who is seen as a manifestation of Krishna, and the text will mention how he held the Govardhan hill on his last finger. Pichvai paintings mostly depict scenes from Shrinathji’ s life and various scenes of his celebrations.
The Pichwai Art is a tradition that is practiced by the Hindu Brahmins of India. This religious tradition is believed to have roots in the Vedic period and is executed with utmost devotion by the artists. The paintings can be seen as a map to the universe and are used as a way to see how all of these pieces fit together. Subjects of Pichwai Art are mostly depiction of Lord Krishna’s various moods or various sevas (offering) of Shrinathji.
Pichwai Art | Careful detailing is required to paint a Pichwai. Lord Krishna is sometimes depicted as Shrinathji in these types of paintings, which are of the deity manifesting as a seven-year old child.
Other common subjects in Pichwais are Radha, gopis, cows, and lotuses. Festivals and celebrations such as Sharad Purnima, Raas Leela, Annakoot, Govardhan Puja, Janmashtami, Gopashtami, Nand Mahotsav, Diwali, and Holi are beautifully presented for centuries.
Ganjifa is an ancient Indian card game that was popularized during the Mughal era. Ganjifa cards are believed to have arrived in India through Persia, then widespread across Europe before settling in India. Ganjifa used to be called “Ganjifa” in Persian, and that means cards. The word Ganjifa is derived from the Persian word ‘Ganj’, which refers to money and treasures. It was a common, leisurely practice for the aristocrats to involve stakes in the game. Mysooru Ganjifa was extensively patronized by the Mysore Royal Family.
One theory is that the Indian game of Kreeda Patra was renamed Ganjifa when it was brought to other parts of the world. This is because Kreeda Patra is, in fact, an Indian card game. While it has been popularly played in the Telangana and Andhra regions of India for centuries, it’s only recently gained popularity around. However, under the Mughal rule during the 16th-18th century, Kreeda Patra cards became much more elaborate and grew in popularity. These cards were renamed Ganjifa and ultimately became a royal amusement for this period of Persian and Arabic influence in India.
Ganjifa became popular under the rule of Maharaja of Mysore, Mummadi Krishna Raj Wadiyar, and is sometimes also known as the “Mysore ‘Chada’ Ganjifa” type. King Akbar helped to create Ganjifa as a specific board game and to promote its integrity. He encouraged various variations of the game, and artists in his court contributed by designing them. Since the aim of the game was to teach, learn & tell stories from scriptures, all 18 games in this style are based on Purana’s, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Ganjifa Art | The Dashavatara Ganjifa which is a series with 10 different forms of the Hindu God Vishnu was the most popular Ganjifa game and is still known to this day. The Dashavatara Ganjifa has 120 different playing cards.
Historically, the paintings were done by hand and were circular in shape. However, rectangular ones have also been found. Other than the handmade papers that were recently discovered during the Mughal era, Ganjifa was traditionally cut from sandalwood or ivory and used colors of paint & silver/gold to create a design.
All Mysore Ganjifa paintings are painted with natural dyes, while the fine, delicate details are etched with squirrel hair brushes. The artists mix all colors by hand. All colors are derived from organic sources to produce authentic paintings.
Mysore Art is a form of classical South Indian painting that evolved in the Mysore city of Karnataka. It’s at its zenith under the patronage of Wodeyars, Mysore being under their reign. The art of the Mysore school reached its peak during the rule of Raja Raja Wodeyar I. The occupation of artists dispersed after his death though, and the school ceased to exist. Mysore paintings are often mistaken for Tanjore paintings, because the colors are very similar at first glance. However, closer inspection will reveal that Mysore paintings have finer brush work & more delicate colors, while Tanjore paintings have a rougher, bolder style with broader brush strokes.
In Mysore paintings, gesso is a low relief, intricate substance that is used in the background of a painting. This helps to bring out details such as clothes, jewelry and architectural features. Whereas in Tanjore school gesso has a lot of relief and is typically used for depictions or images that have deeper meanings or symbols behind them.
Mysore paintings are known for their gold leaf paint and often depict Hindu gods, goddesses or scenes from mythology. The natural beauty, intricacy and graceful quality of these paintings make them a favorite among many people. The process of producing a Mysore painting typically follows a number of steps. The first step involves making a sketch on the basis, usually with the help of a preliminary sketch drawn with ink or charcoal or pasting cartridge paper on to a wooden base. Then paste is made of zinc oxide and Arabic gum, known as ‘gesso paste’.
Then, gold foil is pasted onto the surface. The rest of the painting is prepared with the help of watercolors. After the painting is fully dried, it is covered with a thin paper and rubbed lightly with a smooth soft stone.
Mysore Painting | Under this Art from, the sketches were made with the help of charcoal, which was prepared by burning tamarind twigs in an iron tube. The brushes were made of different materials, like squirrel hair, camel hair, goat hair, etc.
The work was taken up in the morning when the base of the gold work on the painting was still moist so as to hold the gold foil firmly. After allowing the painting to dry, glazing was carried out by covering the painting with thin paper and rubbing over it with a soft glazing stone known as kaslupada kallu. When the thin paper was removed the painting shone brightly and looked resplendent with the combination of gold and a variety of colours.
Pipili Applique Artwork originates from the 12th century, during the time of Lord Jagannath. Earlier, Gajapatis prepared these as canopies and umbrellas for Ratha Jatra during the day. The city of Pipili, in Puri District, Odisha, India is known for its appliqué work–also known as chandua or odia cānduā. The word “appliqué” comes from the French language meaning to put on something. There are two different techniques, appliqué and reverse appliqué, which can be used to construct a multilayered textile. In appliqué, a luxurious fabric is sewn over the base layer. In reverse appliqué, two layers of fabric are laid down and then cut out in sections.
In the 13th century Puri kings employed craftsmen to make offerings to Lord Jagannath. They set up a village for these people named Pipli. There is a history of people in Assam making clothes for the chariots of Lord Jaganath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra. With royal patronage, the appliqué work became the pinnacle of quality. According to temple records, Maharaja Birakshore of Puri appointed the darji or tailor community to supply appliqué works for the daily rites performed in his temple. This is one way they make money for themselves. However, the sale of handicrafts is also an important source of income to them.
Sewing is a craft that involves embroidering and stitching. The pieces of cloth are fastened with the help of straight stitch, satin stitch, blind stitch or buttonhole stitch. There are also special stitches like “mirror work” and decorative stitches.
Appliqué works are mainly used for dressing up gods during their various journeys. You can see items like an umbrella, a Tarrasa, a heart-shaped wooden piece covered by appliqué cloth and supported by a long wooden pole and Chandua – an umbrella shaped canopy – during the processions.
Pipli Art | One of the most popular trimming items is a frill, which can be used at the border of a canopy or on its own for decoration. The peacocks, ducks, parrots, trees, elephants or creepers in these paintings may be a little more believable than the mythical creature Rahu.
In modern applique work, stylized representations of flora and fauna as well as a few mythical figures are frequently used. More common animal motifs are elephants, parrots, peacocks, waterfowl, and creepers. Plants are also common motifs including lotuses, jasmines and the sun.
Mughal Painting, also known as Persian painting, was an art tradition in Persia (modern-day Iran), mostly during the Mughal Empire. It is often considered a part of the wider Persian miniature tradition, although the Indian influences are very strong. Painters would paint scenes on miniatures which could either be single or multiple scenes. This form of art emerged from Persian miniature paintings and was used heavily by the Mughal Empire during the 16th century.
In Mughal painting, patronage from ruling emperors led to a development as a court art. The art began to decline when the rulers lost interest. The subjects mainly come from a secular perspective, such as illustrations to historical texts and Persian & Indian literature, portraits of the emperor and his court, studies of natural life, and genre paintings. The school had its beginnings during the reign of Emperor Humayun from 1530-40 and 1555-56. The emperor invited two Persian artists, Mir Sayyid Ali and Khwaja Abd al-Samad to join him in India. The earliest and most important undertaking of the school was a series of large miniatures of the Dāstān-e Amīr Ḥamzeh, undertaken during the reign of Akbar (1556–1605) which, when completed, numbered some 1,400 illustrations of an unusually large size. Of the 203 that have survived, the largest numbers are the Austrian Museum of Applied Art in Vienna. The Mughal emperors were Muslim and they presided over the consolidation of Islam in South Asia, as well as pushing Persian culture and faith alongside arts. As a result, the Mughal Empire’s influence extended from Afghanistan to Bangladesh.
Mughal paintings started out as paintings from India, but other parts of the country discovered their style and adapted it. In some cases, this was for Muslim or Hindu subjects while others were adaptations for Sikh ones. In this way, regional styles developed when they were used. These are often described as “post-Mughal”, “sub-Mughal” or “provincial Mughal”.
Mughal Art | Early in the Mughal era realistic portraits of people became a distinguishing feature of their style. Western printmakers who were in contact with the Mughal court influenced this style. The pose, rarely varied in portraits, was to have the head in strict profile, but the rest of the body half turned towards the viewer. This is a new feature that was not present in the Indian (Hinduism) painting styles.
Nirmal Paintings are a popular form of Indian folk art done in Nirmal in Nirmal District, Telangana, India. The paintings in this gallery are made using only natural colors and the main themes are religious, rural scenes, family scenes and landscapes.
Telangana -town of Nirmal is known for its crafts and art. The locals, called Naqash, make beautiful handicrafts which are sought worldwide. The paintings on Nirmal products capture the rustic ethos to the royal environment and show beautiful forms in a variety of colours. There are explicit images that capture flora and fauna.
Once upon a time, the Nizam of Hyderabad was welcomed with a grand ceremony in Nirmal. The artisans decorated the venue and built a throne for the Nizam with an intricately designed banana bud, which they believed would not only look good but also hold his weight. He was bathed in a golden cascade of petals. This led to the Nizam patronizing the artisans, impressed by their skill. In 1951, Lady Hyder brought a group of artisans to Hyderabad and promoted this craft. This was under the Cottage Industries division in the Nizam’s government. Most of the paintings in Nirmal rely on traditional scenes from the ancient Hindu epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. They’ve been influenced by other styles, like Kangra, Ajanta and Mughal miniatures. The art form has been around for a long time and is still popular among customers to this day. Many colors are found in Nirmal paintings, and most of them come from natural sources. The motifs are also pretty popular, with nice finish on the canvass. Birds are always depicted very nicely, and the world-class export quality is what you can expect from these paintings.
Nirmal Art | This technique involves applying lacquer on a wood surface and then painting the desired design. The paints used in Nirmal paintings are made from natural colors which come from extracts of flowers, plants, minerals etc. The paintings depict scenes ranging from the grace of a dancer or a musician’s rhythm to birds, panoramic nature settings, and they fully captivate the attention of the viewer.
Earlier, the wood of Tella Poniki tree was used as a painting board after being processed manually. In recent years, artisans have been using Indian Teak because of its grain texture and weight. Once the painting has been completed, clear spray is used on the frame for water resistance. The Nirmal painting of Mughal miniatures is highly attractive. As it “ages” it acquires a special muted glow and this is considered impeccable.
Patua is an India folk painting that originated in West Bengal. This type of art is traditionally drawn on a piece of cloth known as a pati (or patta). The paintings are stitched onto the scroll, which is strengthened by adding fabric from old saris to the back. Sometimes, one scroll can have a scene or panel from a longer story painted on it. It could also have images of animals or scenes that were made up by the artist.
Patuas, like other traditional painters, began by painting scrolls or patua depicting the mangal stories of the gods and goddesses. For generations, scroll painters or patuas have gone from village to village telling the mangal stories of the gods and goddesses. People found these scrolls to be a great source of entertainment.
Traditionally, Patua painters used a brush made of bamboo and goat hair. Today, scrolls also depict current affairs, history, and other subjects apart from the traditional themes. Painters use vegetable dyes with vegetable gum fixed on paper. The Patua are an artisan community found in the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha, as well as parts of Bangladesh. Some Patuas are Hindu, while others are Muslim.
Hindu Patuas are active in the Kalighat and Kumartuli regions of Calcutta, as well as other parts of West Bengal. Their population is small. Although the origin of the Chitrakars is not clear, historical and mythological memories coincide that it is traceable back to the 13th century. The Patua are a unique community who paint and model idols. Chitrakar is a widely-used term for a Patua artist or sculptor. They originated from Patua which means an artist, sculptor or painter. There are a number of theories about the origin of this community, one of which is that they were cast out when they fell out with their Brahmin priests.
Rajasthan is one of the pioneers of miniature paintings in India. This Indian folk art form evolved here in Marwar-Mewar region as textual illustrations to the Jain text Kalpa-Sutras around the early 15th century. In these paintings there’s a strong connection to the great art of Ajanta and Gujrat. This first Indian folk art style began to take form in the Bhagava paintings of Palam (carried out around 1555) and has been widely used in the art styles of Rajasthan. This style incorporates indigenous art forms as well as Western influences. Rajasthani school of painting was first seen during the end of the 16th century for Mewar. Many various painting styles developed in Rajasthan over time, though the most famous ones are Kota, Bundi, Bikaner, Kishangarh and Mewar. At present-day Jaipur.
Rajasthani Miniature art was influenced by the Mughal style but it had its own personality and perspective. This part of the difference came from Rajasthani artists’ more lyrical approach, as well as their pleasure from pure lines and colors. The other part of the difference lay in the preoccupation with capturing a sense of sacredness. They mainly used primary colors (such as red, blue, and yellow) along with green, brown, and white. Gold and silver were also used in some paintings. Two main factors contributed to the development of Rajasthani paintings: first, the patronage of rich Rajputana communities and second, the revival of Vaishnavism and the growth of bhakti cults.
There were a variety of themes in Rajasthani Paintings, including seasons (Bhahmasa), Ragamala (Rag-Raginis) music, hunting, religious themes from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and love scenes of Radha and Krishna. The bulk of miniature paintings that depicts the initial art style of Rajasthan in its most undiluted form are reported from Mewar. Bold lines, emotionally charged faces, sharp features, robust figures and basic bright colours are its distinctive features.
Pithora painting is a widely famous style of traditional Indian folk art from Madhya Pradesh, where figures are painted on the wall. Pithora Painting is an indigenous form of art practiced by the Bhil and Bhilala tribes in Gujarat and Panchal Plateau. To paint a mural, artists only use white water-based paints and no other decoration.
Pithora paintings are known for their scenes of harvesting, fertility of land, festivals, childbirth etc. Paintings are often considered sacred in Pithora culture and Baba Pithora is the god who’s worshipped to heal illness and undo bad omens. A painting has to be created following consultation with a tantric after worshipping, and this has to be done at the main wall of the house. Likhandra was invited to create paintings using khakhra (Butea Monosperma) brush stems. khakhra (Butea Monosperma) is a species of Butea native to tropical and sub-tropical parts of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Khakhra (Butea Monosperma) is also used for timber, resin, fodder, medicine, and dye. The wood is dirty white and soft. Being durable under water, it is used for well-curbs and water scoops. Spoons and ladles made of this tree are used in various Hindu rituals to pour ghee into the fire.
Pithora Art | Colours are made naturally in a variety of ways. White is made from lime, green from sanguan leaf extract, black from lampblack, red from sindoor and vermillion.
One of Pithora paintings’ common motifs are the Kathiyahoda or Black Horse with rider. This is followed by four White Horses facing each other, two headed Mares of gods of rain clouds animals, bowri(the step well), and women churning butter trees etc.
The Indian folk art, Phad Paintings date back to a 700-year-old legacy and they get their name because of the way they were traditionally rolled or folded. These are created using the scroll technique. The paintings depict local tales by scrolling up & down, representing both sides of the story. They were carried around by priests who would sing out the stories to set them in motion
Phad painting is an Indian folk art style of religious scroll painting. It’s mainly practiced in Rajasthan and usually done on a long piece of cloth or canvas, which is called phad. The stories of the gods from Rajasthan – mostly Pabuji and Devnarayan – are shown on these ‘phads. The Bhopas, folk singers traditionally carry the painted phads along with them and use these as mobile temples for worship; they’re used by the Rebari community of the region. The Phads (flags) of Pabuji and Devnarayan are normally about 15 and 30 feet respectively. Traditionally the flags were painted with vegetable colors.
Previously, Phad painting was practiced exclusively by the Joshi community. It is understood the Phad paintings made in Jaipur lacked the vibrancy and aesthetics that was present in the paintings made by Joshi families of Bhilwara and Shah Pura.
In 1960, Shree Lal Joshi opened a school called the Joshi Kala Kendra to teach students from various castes how to paint this art style. The name of the school eventually became Chitrashala. The Devnarayan Ki Phad and Pabuji Ki Phad are traditional forms of this art. They were revolutionized by Shree Lal Joshi and Pradip Mukherjee in the 1980s. Mukherjee’s paintings are based on the stories of Ramcharitmanas, Gita Govinda, and Kumārasambhava. Shree Lal Joshi introduced and composed new themes for this traditional Indian folk art form, based on the episodes of the Devnarayan Mahagatha, the battle of Haldighati and the jauhar (self-immolation) of Padmini.
Rogan Art is a traditional Indian folk art with textile printing technique, whereby fabric is printed with oils and vegetable dyes and marked by either blocks (printing) or a stylus (painting). Rogan Art is a 400 years old traditional painting technique that nearly died out before being revived by two families in the same village. The word Rogan comes from Persian, meaning varnish or oil, a term adopted under the Mughal Empire. A tool of many uses, this oil based paint is typically applied to fabric to produce a beautiful and durable finish. It is traditionally used by the Muslim community in Kutch – a province of India. The name ‘Rogan’ and some traditional designs may suggest an origin from Iran but there are no historic records available to confirm this.
Rogan painting was created in the Kutch region 400 ages ago. The painted fabric was mostly purchased by women of the lower castes who wanted to decorate clothing and bed coverings for their wedding. Therefore, it was a seasonal art, with most of the work taking place during the several months when most weddings take place. In the ‘off season’, you would have artisans doing other kinds of work, such as farming. In the late 20th century, cheaper machine-made textiles made Rogan painting an occupation that is more expensive. The Khatris of Nirona, Gujarat are the only family to continue the craft.
Rogan paint is produced by boiling castor oil for about two days, then mixing in vegetable pigments and a binding agent. The resulting paint is thick & shiny. The color of the material that is typically painted or printed on is usually dark, which helps the bright shades to stand out and be easily visible.
One of the most famous forms of Indian folk art is the Pattachitra. It consists primarily in paintings on cloth and depicts mostly Hindu divinities. “Patta” means “cloth” and “Chitra” means “painting”. Pattachitra is a traditional Indian folk art of Odisha that’s been around for centuries. It was originally used for rituals and as mementos to pilgrims. Today, it can be seen on everything from walls to boxes of sweets. You can find a Pattachitra on almost any surface in Odisha, but some of the most interesting pieces are on the pillars outside.
Pattachitra, which is an ancient form of Indian folk art, serves as a visual tool during the performance of Bengali songs. The paintings of Odisha can be divided into three broad categories from the point of view of medium, i.e. paintings on cloth or ‘Patta Chitra’, paintings on walls or ‘Bhitti Chitra’ and palm leaf engravings or “Tala Patra Chitra’ or “Pothi, Chitra’. The style of all these remains more or less the same at a specific time because the then artists were commissioned to work in all these media, it is believed.
The paintings seen in Pattachitra drawing resemble old Odisha’s paintings of famous temples and centres of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneshwar region, dating back to the 5th century BC. The best work is found in and around Puri, especially in the village of Raghurajpur. These paintings are being created with 4 colors, red, yellow, white & black.
Pattachitra Art | Bengal Pattachitra is a traditional genre of painting from West Bengal. It’s also known as the Maha Patachitra and is dated back to ancient times. It includes different styles, for example Durga Pat, Chalchitra, Tribal Patachitra and Medinipur Pattachitra. The subject matter of Bengal Patachitra is mostly religion, myths, folk stories and social.
Reverse glass painting is a centuries-old folk art form that was created in Italy and then spread across Europe in the 16th century. Reverse glass painting was first introduced to China’s market by western Catholic missionaries in 16th and 17th century. It quickly became popular among the nouveau riche who wanted to maintain an outward appearance of wealth & success, but on a budget. By 18th century, the Reverse glass painting craze had spread to India’s west coast where many Indians are willing to spend.
The adoption of colour glass art was associated with symbolic and cultural figures and occurrences as early as 5th century.
There are three types of glass paintings, mentioned below;
With the expansion of the British Empire, Indian artists learned the technique and began producing reverse glass paintings for wealthy Indian aristocrats who sought to mimic the colonial officers.
In the late 18th-century and early 19th-century, there was a high demand for religious paintings that featured gems, pearls and cut glass in southern India. Reverse glass paintings came as a less expensive Indian folk art alternative and reached a far wider audience. The use of reverse glass paintings spread across Western and Southern India, reaching to former provincial Mughal capitals in Awadh and Murshidabad, Rajasthan and Central India. Reverse glass painting depicts Indian legends from Hindu mythology and reflects a rich tradition. Meanwhile, secular themes such as portraits of kings, nobles, courtesans & musicians are also depicted. The paintings have a distinct style of bold colors, rich subject matter and have a certain flavor of Indian mixed with Western motifs. A special feature of reverse glass painting in India is the mixture of various East & West elements.
Reverse glass Tanjore paintings typically reflected the mixture of Indian and Western elements, sometimes introducing trees in the background and figures in the foreground with intricate details of costumes and jewelry.
Reverse Glass Tanjore Painting and Italian Version of Glass Painting | The process of making reverse glass paintings is absolutely amazing and need special skills. This is a laborious technique that requires a good memory of the whole composition because the drawing that has to be made on the glass is drawn in such a way that it is the mirror image of the real composition and the application of the paints is done from the back in a reverse order. The first step for reverse glass Tanjore painting is to place a piece of clear glass under your drawing. On this, you’ll trace the finer lines on the glass to transfer it later. Any decorations like gold effect or stones must also be added to this stage. For larger areas of opaque colors, usually either oil or tempura paints are applied and shading is used to achieve a sense of depth. Unlike stained glass paintings, the reverse glass paintings do not use any binding media or firing.
In reverse glass Tanjore painting, the glass sheet is both the support on reverse as well as the protection from the front now. The traditional reverse glass Tanjore painting is dying because the artists who do it are getting older and lack the knowledge and skills to carry on this particular craft.
The Indian folk art, Sanjhi has been around since ancient times and required a lot of patience, skill and precision. It was traditionally used to create intricate Krishna-themed Rangoli patterns at temples. Based on mythology, Radha, Krishna’s beloved lady-love used to hang on to her freshly plastered cow dung walls by using colored stones, metal foils and flowers, to draw Krishna’s attention. Seeing Radha do this, other Gopi’s in Vrindavan began painting walls with Sanjhi art to attract Krishna. ‘Sanjhi’ is derived from words like “Sajja”, “Shringar” and “Sajavat” which all mean decoration.
Sanjhi is linked with the Indian ritual of unveiling the Rangoli at dusk. It is often chanted near the temples. Sanjhi is a traditional Indian art form with many intricate designs and delicate patterns. Designs are often based on legendary Hindu tales of gods. Designers will often cut a stencil out in a shape of what they want to create and use it in a repetitive fashion in order to create their wanted image. They do this with the help of small custom scissors.
The Rangolis were made using colours, flowers or stones. Some craftsmen also practiced Sanjhi during the Mughal era, but in entirely different themes. Earlier, artisans would use rough paper or banana leaves to make stencils, but in contemporary times handmade and recycled papers are also used.
Traditionally, the stencil was the only type of Rangoli, but gradually stencils caught the interest of patrons. Now, stencils are considered equally as beautiful as the final decoration. Cutouts are available as framed artworks as well.
This folk art painting depicts the culture of the region. It was made better by Vaishnava temples in the 15th and 16th century. Sanjhi evolved to become a high level of art done by Brahmin priests
Sanjhi Art | The Indian folk art, Sanjhi has been around since ancient times and required a lot of patience, skill and precision. It was traditionally used to create intricate Krishna-themed Rangoli patterns at temples. Sanjhi Art tradition originates from the state of Uttar Pradesh’s Vraja district, which is where Krishna was born.
Presently, the ancient art of paper decoration is only practiced by a handful of individuals. It remains an important tradition at many temples including the Radharamana temple in Vrindavan.
In the city of Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, India, an indigenous Indian folk art form called Sohrai Art is practiced by the women. It’s a ritualistic art done on mud walls to welcome the harvest and to celebrate cattle.
The Sohrai art form is popular in 10,000-4,000 BC and decorating walls with murals of this kind was common in caves. In the last few centuries, the paintings have been hung on mud walls.
The name, Sohrai comes from the Mundari word Soroi which means to lash with a stick. Usually, people use sticks on animals and livestock. They created the paintings on two occasions: one time after it had rained and before the harvest. The other was during weddings. They make a layer of mud on the wall, and while it is still wet they use their fingertips to create various designs. These generally include fruits and flowers as well as other illustrations of nature. The dark outline on the walls is visible because of the white mud that was applied on top and it’s not a part of the design. This is how artists from Sohrai show their spontaneity in terms of drawing different patterns on the wall, without much planning.
Some artists focus on designing their canvases to be between 12-18ft wide. These designs are almost always based off the artist’s memory and personal experience. The artwork reflects an interest in nature and human interactions with it. The colour palette of Sohrai paintings is just as intriguing as its history: natural earth ochres that can be found in abundance in the vicinity. The brushes they use to paint with are twigs from the Sal tree.
Rags made of cotton fibers are used to make the background. You can color them using the following colors: Red ochre, Yellow ochre, Manganese or powdered coal or Kali Mitti, and White clay or Dudhi/charak mitti. While both red and yellow ochres are available locally or can be foraged in the hills, red ochre is usually found in the form of hematite near Hill Rivers.
Sohrai Art | Sohrai Day takes place one day after Diwali and a few days after Govardhan Puja, which is a cattle-related festival. Houses that are decorated for the festival only last until the end. For some tribes this decoration is just decorative. However, it signifies an act of deep respect which is integral to their culture.
Eastern India has some beautiful roots in folk art, represented through the Saura tribe’s wall painting tradition. It is particularly evident in regions like Orissa. The Saura people’s paintings are also called ikons. These pictures were traditionally painted on their houses, but now they are well known all over India.
Saura art is a really interesting way to see how the Sauras lived and what they believe. They’re a tribe from the state of Orissa, but they’re really dynamic and colourful. With a history that has been mentioned in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Sauras are known for their distinct tribal culture and their art. Another interesting facet of the Kerinci people is their deep connection to nature. Their family art reflects this and seems to be a simplistic depiction of village life. The Saura people rely on their art and the symbolism within it to hold on to their customs and culture. For the Saura tribe, who do not have a written language, their artwork is often used as a record of history, philosophy and other cultural beliefs.
Saura art is traditionally made on the red or brown clay walls of the homes of the villagers, with natural dyes made from rice, white stone, and flower and leaf extracts, using a brush that is made from tender bamboo. The paintings are usually of Idital, the deity of the Sauras tribe who helps people during auspicious occasions like harvesting or child-birth.
Saura’s icons tap into a variety of recurring symbols, some of which include people, the tree of life, the sun & moon, horses & elephants. In traditional cultures it was only priests who could make icons. They would also tell their village folk about their culture and customs using an oral tradition.
Saura Art | As seen at a glance, Saura seems to be the identical twin of another tribal artform from India that is also better known. Made up of similar geometric shapes, in earthy colours, these two artforms are often hard to differentiate. There are subtle differences between the two however – ranging from the composition of the forms to the pattern they’re placed in.
The figures in the Saura style are less angular than the Warli style. In Warli art the human body is depicted by two sharp triangles conjoined at the apex. The Saura forms are also larger and more elongated than the ones seen in Warli art, with no physical differentiations between male and female shapes.
Another distinct characteristic of Saura art is the ‘fishnet’ approach with which all the artworks are made. When drawing a Saura artwork, the border is drawn first and then patterns fill in the space towards the center.
The Surpur style of Indian folk art that is considered as an offshoot of the Vijayanagara style. The art flourished under the patronage of rulers for about two centuries, particularly during the reign of Immadi Venkatapa Nayaka and Mummadi Venkatapa Nayaka. The present day Surpur style paintings owe their origin to the murals found in the walls of ruined mansions and temples of Surpur taluk in Yadgir district. The style is similar to the more established Mysore (now Mysuru) and Tanjore styles of painting in terms of the gesso work and the rendering of gold leaf with embedded semi-precious stones.
Surpur miniature art, recognized as one of the finest miniature art forms in the world, is facing extinction due to lack of institutional support and training to budding artists by seniors to keep this beautiful art form alive. The thematic content adheres to mythology and Vedic themes such as the ashtadikpalas or the guardians of eight directions. While some paintings were made in honor of kings and noblemen, some paintings were used to embellish actual photographs. Colonel Philip Meadows Taylor, an able administrator and an artist, contributed significantly to preserving these paintings when he served in Surpur as a representative of the Nizam of Hyderabad. He worked in the region from 1842 to 1850. He took many of these works when he returned to England and they are found in the museums of England even now.
Surpur miniature Indian folk art flourished under the then Surpur ruler Raja Venkatappa Naik during 1773 to 1858, which was described as the golden age of Surpur. It was during this period that artists from the Garudadri family, practicing miniature painting, migrated from Andhra Pradesh to Surpur (now in Yadgir district). Banaiah Garudadri was the artist who popularized this art form and trained a number of artists who mastered in this art form in the erstwhile Surpur kingdom.
Intricate strokes in imaginative colors and use of pure gold thread embedded in the paintings, depicting tales from Indian mythology, provided grandeur to the paintings.
Surpur Miniature Art | It is understood that although the government released enough funds to the academy to support various art forms and help the artists, so far, the academy had not earmarked even 10 per cent of the funds for the protection and support of the traditional art forms, while major funds were spent for uplifting western art forms every year.
This style of Indian folk art was neglected for long, for almost a century. Since each Indian folk art form has a unique creation process, in the absence of teachers artists must try to replicate the existing work of art using modern methods and techniques. Such an effort was made by artist Vijay Hagargundgi who is credited with reviving the art and fitting it into the modern medium.
Tikuli art is a unique type of Indian folk art from Bihar with a rich history. Literally, the word “Tikuli” means “Bindi” which is what they wear on their forehead usually as decoration. The Bindi, traditionally an Indian headpiece worn by women, was originally created to symbolize worship of intellect. They are still used for religious ceremony but have become more mainstream in recent times. The Tikuli art style has enabled women artists to be creative and express themselves whilst challenging the male-dominated industry.
Tikuli art originated 800 years ago in Patna. It deals with beautifully designed paintings which are manufactured in the local streets of the city. With its popularity, Tikuli art managed to attract more traders to buy it in bulk. This had catapulted the Mughals to take an interest in it, who appreciated the finer points of this art-form. As the Mughal Empire began to decline and the British Raj took over, indigenous arts like Tikuli faced a sharp decline. Industrialization had caused people to abandon the local trade for machine-made options that weren’t as high quality. Thousands of Tikuli artists were left jobless when machine-made bindi entered the market, causing Tikuli art to cease production. The revival of this art form solely took place due to a few key influencers. In 1954, Chitracharya Padmashree Upendra Maharathi became aware of this dying art and decided to take action in preserving it.
Tikuli is a very special art form of Bihar. Unlike other forms of embroidery, it requires extremely detailed skills. This is because there are many fine details in the work that needs to be taken care of (An interesting fact about Tikuli is that the more tedious the work with even more finesse, often makes for better end result). Making Tikuli art is a delicate and meticulous process. From cutting the hard board in different sizes to painting sharp black lines in one stroke for smoothness and fineness, the process involves 15 stages. Simply put, one can divide it into three steps:
For their paintings, Tikuli artists use hardboard to create various forms like circular, rectangular, or triangular. The artisans apply 4-5 coats of paint on the cut pieces of wood. Each time they do this, they soil the surface with sandpaper, which gives it a smooth finish. After the last coat has dried, they can paint their design on it. Tikuli art also incorporates motifs from Madhubani painting. It is often embellished with gold foil and jewels.
TIkuli Art | Tikuli art is mostly exported which means people outside of the culture enjoy it more than those within it. Activities and ceremonies that define Indian culture are featured in Tikuli artwork and posters. Tikuli is still a part of tribal jewelry and is often seen in the folk songs of Nepali, Bhojpuri and Hindi. It symbolizes happy wedded life with many references in Hindi literature based on the idea that being married is an identity for women.
Tassar or Tussar Painting is a form of Indian folk art that date back to ancient traditions. Some places the painting is on silk and other places it’s placed on cloth or canvas. Originally, the painting came from Jagannath Temple in Puri and other locations around India. These paintings portray a large variety of themes, from religious and mythical stories to exotic and raga (musical) narratives.
Tussar paintings are often thematic and colorful, made with natural dyes. You can often find steep borders and intricate designs in these artworks. Patta paintings are thought to have begun in 500 B.C. These were originally drawn on cloth that resembled a scroll, but over time they morphed into Tussar silk sarees. Pata paintings were traditionally from the patta-chitra temple paintings from Odisha, Eastern India. The Tree of Life illustrates the most important aspect of human existence – life. It all starts with your culture—or in India, Kalpabrukhya. This is an adaptation of Rudraksha trees. It’s an analogy for mankind’s most vital need for life. The whole thing is hand-painted on a natural Tussar silk background. The established colors used for paintings are brick red and black. The difficult part is to perfect every stroke with the handmade brush that the artist has been mastering for a long time.
The unique skill of this Indian folk art is in the curved stroke that starts with a dot, extends as a thin line, then grows thick, slims down again and ends in a dot – all in a single stroke. On messing up one part of the stroke the entire painting will be ruined. It takes around 2-6 months to complete one painting depending upon the size.
Thanjavur Art is an ancient Indian traditional art form and their common theme is mythology. They demonstrate that spirituality is a necessary component of a creative work. Tanjore Painting is a classical South Indian art developed in the late 16th century in Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore in Tamil Nadu, a south Indian state.
The art of Tanjore originated in the city of Thanjavur, which was originally the capital city of the Chola Empire. It has taken on its own look, enriched with intricate architectural designs and bright colors after being influenced by the murals from imperial era. The unique style of Thanjavur or Tanjore painting as known today is known to have flourished in the Maratha court of Thanjavur between the 17th and 19th centuries. The Maratha people of India, who had been practicing painting for centuries, found new ways to depict the human body and naturalistic landscapes under the guidance of King Serfoji II. King played a particularly significant role in developing this artform.
These Tanjore Art offer a taste of the serenity and permanence associated with Puranic scenes. With their lifelike illustrations, this collection is characterised by its alluring design. The Mughal era saw many changes in the style of artwork. The Marathas ruled over Thanjavur for nearly two centuries, and brought a distinctive style change to Thanjavur style. Maratha artists chose to combine the existing mural-based design with amazing details that showcased exquisite craftsmanship. The paintings consist itself with a well-rounded figure, a deity with almond shaped eyes. The figure would be housed in an enclosure created by means of an arch, curtains etc.
In this Indian Fold Art, gold leaves & sparkling stones are used as highlights for accents of the painting like ornaments, dresses etc. It’s been said that Thanjavur paintings are brightly colored and beautiful. In a dark room, the paintings have a potent glow that’s reminiscent of a presence. Most Thanjavur paintings are made on wooden canvasses while some use glass and walls as well.
Thanjavur or Tanjore Art | The styles developed were slight variants of each other. The emphasis at Tanjore was on studded gems and gold leaves. Vuyaioor Importance was on the decorative garland. Mysore-based paintings that have intricate work. The direct impact on Tanjore art began with the stationing of the British Garrison in Thanjavur in 1778.
Tanjore paintings are known for being made with rich, flat colors that have a glossy look. The they also use something called “gold foil” which is a layer of very small flakes of gold 22k metal leaf, bronze or brass pieces applied to the surface of a painting by hand. Stones like semi-precious stones help highlight many aspects by injecting light into the painting. The painting is made of 22-carat gold and real Tanjore stones, which produce a special glow and the shine that lasts forever.
Thangka paintings are Tibetan scrolls that are hung on the wall. It is often carried in ceremonial processions by lamas. Thangka is a Tibetan art form that is unique to the culture. In Tibetan, the word “than” means “flat” and the suffix “ka” stands for “painting.”
A thangka is a kind of large painting that can be used as a scroll. When not displayed, it’s rolled up. The most common shape is an upright rectangular form. The Buddhist libraries are full of beautiful, haunting thangkas depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life. Despite their extensive history, thangkas are still very much alive due to their deep connection with Buddhism. Thangkas are paintings that Tibetan practitioners use to help them develop a close sense of connection with their respective meditational deity.
Thangka Art is very complicated and require intense preparation. They assist mediators in concentrating on specific images, which helps them get more out of their meditations. Early Buddhist paintings from India influenced Tibetan Buddhist painting, which evolved from those painting traditions found in places like the Ajanta Caves and Dunhuang on the Silk Road. Early examples of these paintings were elaborate on a wall, but later became simpler. Tibetan Thangka paintings developed alongside traditional Tibetan Buddhist wall paintings. Many of the earliest examples of these paintings on silk/cloth date back to around 1,000 AD and were found in various caves at Dunhuang (an ancient city in northwestern China). Translating the earliest known fragments of Theravada canonical scriptures from Pallava script into Old Mon can be dated to. Earlier Thangka forms of paintings were made in ancient scriptures and manuscripts and textiles.
Thangka painting is practiced in Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Lahaul and Spiti, and Kangra districts of Himachal Pradesh in India. In Dharamshala, Thangka painting is practiced by Tibetans in exile. The art of thangka painting can take years to perfect, but anyone willing to put the time into learning it can do so. Unlike most other forms of art, there are no specific gender rules. Early thangkas were seen as a form of meditation, where the artist communicates with the deity.
Thangaka Art | This person would first need to go through a special initiation by the lama that would bestow him with the skills of painting thangka paintings. Next under the guidance of an experienced thangka artist he paints for many years, learning his trade.
Dengki artists need to have a thorough knowledge of the Buddhist scriptures in order to create paintings. Knowledge of their strict rules is essential in order to make accurate depictions of them. Buddhist scriptures give instructions for this. A Thangka artist learns to sketch Buddhist symbols and figures of deities for the first few years. The Thangka art is a ritual in Himalayan Buddhism and is known to be a time consuming process. It can take up to twelve years of practice before the artist becomes an expert.
Warli Art from Maharashtra is one of the oldest styles of Indian folk art that’s managed to persist for thousands of years. Warli paintings are mainly created by Tribal people from North Sahyabadri Range in India.
The Warli tribe is one of the largest in India, located outside of Mumbai. Despite being close to one of the largest cities in India, The Warli culture is centered on the concept of Mother Nature and elements of nature are often focal points depicted in Warli painting. Many Warli paintings depict the Tarpa dance as a central component. The Tarpa is a kind of trumpet-like instrument that different men take turns playing. The dancers pair up, intertwining their hands and circling the tarpa player. They then follow him in a turning and pressing manner; he can’t turn his back to them because they will always be around him. Farmers make up a large proportion of the tribe and provide food for many people. They respect wildlife and nature because it’s important to their way of life as well as providing them with food.
Warli artists often use their clay huts as a backdrop for their paintings, as people did with the cave paintings before them. These basic wall paintings use simple geometric shapes: a circle, triangle and square. These shapes represent different aspects of nature. The circle and the triangle come from their observation of nature. The circle represents the sun and the moon, while the triangle is derived from mountains and pointed trees. The human body is represented by two intersecting triangles: the top triangle represents the torso, the bottom one the pelvis. Their precarious equilibrium symbolizes the balance of the universe. The representation also has the practical and amusing advantage of animating the bodies.
Warli art often depicts triangles which are different sizes depending on their gender. A triangle is usually larger or wider at the top if it represents a man, and wider towards the bottom if it represents a woman.
The Tibari wood carving tradition of Uttarakhand is an integral part of the hill society and is also known as Likhai Carving. The carving is found on the dwellings primarily in the form of folk, religious, cultural and tantric motifs. Tantric art forms an important part of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The carving is done in the form of stylized plants and geometrical motifs into single windows and the Chaukhat (Door Frame) of doors. The borders of the door sometimes have up to 14 rows of carvings- deities, sun, moon, swans, parrots, lotus, creepers, flowers etc. The panels of the doors and windows are carved separately and joined together after the carving is done.
Pithoragarh, Almora, Nainital, Bageshwar, and Champawat districts in Uttarakhand are a noted centre for wood carving art. The houses are adorned with Tibetan motifs like three-flower motif, the arch and the dragons. In Garhwal region the carving is limited to the mythological temples. Tibari or Likhai art is languishing today because of the rising cost and unavailability of good raw wood.
The Santhal people are an indigenous tribal community in India who live in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. The paintings are made with locally sourced materials such as rice paste, tree bark, cow dung and natural pigments. Like any other tribe the Santals have an exclusive artistic perception rooted in their cultural traditions and physical environs.
Santiniketan is a central center for Indian art and is renowned for being the home of Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore was interested in the Santhals when he visited Santiniketan’s “Hamlet” close to the school and convinced Nandalal Basu to teach art in his own personal school. The Santhals are known for painting the walls of their huts during their village festival. This ceremony, they believe, is for ceremonial performances as well as an outlet to express them. They worship a stone as a formless representation of the divine. They sing about the burden of their life and provide an interesting portrait of their everyday experiences.
The figures are mostly static, often multicolor, and artistic rather than realistic projections. Figures can consist of humans, animals, and creatures joining together to form one head. Mother and Child as well as human and animal couples are brought together by love and unity. A panoramic view of the village forms the background, with women carrying firewood and water on their heads, Men driving the bullock cart to the market, dancing and singing under a tree, a couple under flowering creepers; a family going for cultivation; men and women cutting wood, gathering fire wood, carrying water on the head; hunters returning with their catch ; fishing; taking mud pots in a cart to the village market for sale, flying kites and swinging, brothers of the bridegroom carrying the bride in a basket. These tell of the strong family bond and brimming with life diffusing a rare energy that animates Santhal art.
Santhal paintings, a very unique Indian folk art are done in primary colors, with leafy patterns in the foreground, background and borders. The animals, birds and insects are depicted directly and with child-like simplicity.
Thanks to the abundance of bamboo and cane in Arunachal Pradesh, the state is quite famous for its bamboo art products. The craft is a vibrant tradition and highly diverse as each tribe has its own weaving style and antique design. Every tribe excels in their craftsmanship, and the shapes of items made out of bamboo and cane are distinctive in every region.
The traditional art of the Mizo tribes is to create several varieties of bamboo and cane products that are used for both utilitarian and decorative purposes. The Mizo men are advance experts at cane and bamboo work. The Mizo hat looks as if the hat is woven out of fine bamboo as fine as cotton yarn. Bamboo and cane are also used to make flower vases, baskets and utensils etc. The domestic baskets are all made from plaited bamboo and are reinforced by a stout cane, which is actually very hard and durable. By smoking, the cane is colored shiny mahogany to add some colors and patterns.
These traditional craft work is one of the main crafts of Tripura and are known for their beautiful weaves and attractive designs. The weaves are practiced by different tribes of Tripura. These bamboo and cane craft products includes table mats, floor mats, room dividers, decorated wall panels, attractive furniture made of cane, and interior decor products such as paneling, plaques, planters etc.
Chikan translates to embroidery in the local languages of Uttar Pradesh. The technique of creating chikan work or chikan embroidery work is called chikankari. It is delicate and artfully done hand embroidery which is one of the most ancient and well-known craft forms of Lucknow. It is one of the most famous Indian handicrafts and is done on a variety of textiles like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, net etc and gives the crafted cloth a delicate appeal.
This is considered to be one of the main cottage industries of Assam, weaving and embroidery have brought the fabrics of Assam into the international domain. These art form includes handwoven cotton, muga, pat (mulberry silk) and eri (wooly silk). Common household handlooms of the state include mekhela chadar, gamocha, saris, shawls, mats, and napkins etc. The unique designs of these traditional crafts in Assam are symbolic of the different tribes and ethnic groups of the area.
Haryana produces many traditional handicraft items such as shawls, durries, robes or lungis to show off its widest variety of weaving capabilities. But, literally nothing can defeat the Haryana shawl called phulkari. Generally worn with ghagra choli, phulkari is made by the female members of a house, and takes a long time to make. Sometimes this can take even a few years. It contains magnificent colors and intricate embroidery, almost always following a geometric pattern.
This Art form is a unique metal handicraft from Bidar, and has been practised from as long as the 14th century CE during the rule of the Bahamani Sultans. Also known as Bidri art, this traditional Indian handicraft is quite unique due to its striking inlay artwork. The prime metal used for bidriware is an alloy of zinc and copper that is blackened and then encased with thin sheets of pure silver. This craft work from Karnataka is one of the most popular traditional crafts of India.
This beautiful eco-friendly handicraft art of Kerala requires aesthetics and expertise as it is very difficult to carve out exquisite patterns on a tough exterior. This art form is one of the traditional handicrafts of the Kerala artisans, who carve out gorgeous collectables such as sugar containers, boxes in different shapes and sizes, and showpieces embellished with brass edges.
Gujarat is filled with many Indian traditional art forms. One of the most popular is the Zari or Gold Thread Embroidery. It is an intricate art of weaving thread spun of fine gold or silver, further woven into fabrics (primarily silk) to create the intricate patterns. This art is considered one of the most famous and elaborate techniques in India, in metal embroidery. It is also one of the most popular traditional crafts in Indian region. The zari work of Surat is one of the oldest handicrafts and the city is considered as one of the biggest and most important zari manufacturing center in India.
The Durries of Madhya Pradesh are one of the two carpet varieties produced by the state. These thick cotton carpets are quite famous among the best Indian handicrafts. They are woven by a technique called punja and come in vibrant colours, bold patterns, and folk designs including flowers, petals, birds and animal motifs and geometric weaves.
This is an amazing art form indigenous to Goa. It is a traditional art of weaving mandri (mat in Konkani). Although not a thriving art, it uses lavo, a type of wild grass grown in the marshy land of fields to make these alluring mats.
Due to the low temperatures in Himachal Pradesh, it comes as no surprise that nearly every household in Himachal owns a pit-loom, a type of loom that fits inside a pit. Each region has its own typical style. For example, the Kullu region is famous for its shawls that contain striking patterns and vibrant colors, while in Chamba district, weaves assume in a chequered pattern.
Home to a rich variety of handwoven textiles, Meghalaya state produces three varieties of silk. Basically, they are muga, eri (locally known as ryndia) and mulberry. This art is an ancient craft of the tribals of Meghalaya, and under the exclusive monopoly of local women. The various tribes of Meghalaya weave amazing handicrafts, and most importantly this industry is a cottage based eco-friendly industry in India.
An integral part of the arts and crafts of Nagaland, weaving is primarily done by the women. The traditional style of the state is reflected in the rich artistic skills and the creative imagination of local craftsmen who have inherited the art from their ancestors. They make different products include shawls, sling bags, headgear and wraparound garments commonly called mekhala.
Surrounded with dense forests, woodcraft has become one of the most thriving industries of Jharkhand. This wood is used by skilled artisans to create different products that are used in everyday life and also for decoration, such as windows, door panels, boxes, wooden spoons and so on. The fine quality of the woodcraft and the wood of Jharkhand have made this art very popular among nation.
The wood carving art in Manipur is done on two types of wood, locally known as wang and heijuga. Trees are cut when they are mature, and then the logs are seasoned properly to preserve the natural color of the wood. The traditional motifs of Manipuri culture are carved by the artisans. The resin is applied to decorate leather belts, swords and sword handles etc.
This ancient practice in Punjab is about plastering the walls of the house with mud and creating different shapes, figures, patterns, petals and designs on the wet mud before it dries. It is usually performed by the rural women of Punjab on Hinduism festive occasions like Dusshera, Karva Chauth, Holi, and Diwali etc.
Jaipur’s blue pottery originally came from Persia, but today is widely recognised as a traditional craft of Jaipur city. The base for making blue pottery is a mixture of quartz, powdered glass, stone powder, borax, multani mitti, gum and water. The name, however, comes from the cobalt blue dye used to color the pottery products. The technique beautifully produces decorative items such as doorknobs, tiles, pots, vases and plates etc, but someone should be careful as being fired at very low temperature makes them fragile.
The state’s traditional lepcha weave art is synonymous with handloom weaving in Sikkim. This weave art form goes back to ancient times when the Lepcha tribe were said to use yarn spun from stinging nettle (sisnu) plants to weave their clothes. Locally known as thara, lepcha weaves are woven in vertical looms format with a backstrap, thus resulting in a shorter fabric width. Traditional designs with different colors are used to make bedspreads, curtains, bags, cushion covers, belts, table mats, tray cloths etc, apart from the traditional dress of Lepcha peoples.
Belonging to the town of Pattamadai in Tirunelveli district, these mats are crafted out of the korai grass (reeds). These mats are also called pattu paai where the use of silk thread gives sheen to the mat. They are specifically crafted for wedding ceremonies and they have the bride and groom names as well as the wedding date woven into them.
This traditional handicraft art form is a popular metal handicraft made in Pembarthi village of Warangal district in Telangana. Metalworkers or the vishwakarmas perfected the art of sheet metal engravings, and today, it is one of the most popular traditional craft works of India. It can be seen adorning the vigrahas (statues) as well as carvings of chariots in several Hinduism temples.
Dhokra, an ancient metal casting art is a tribal art form which comes from the Dhokra Damar tribes of West Bengal. This traditional art is used to make stunning metal figurines from bronze and copper-based alloys using a ‘lost wax casting’. One of the earliest known Dhokra artefacts is the famous statue of the dancing girl of Mohenjo-Daro. This art is still used to make artefacts, accessories, utensils and jewellery, and is differentiated by its rustic simplicity, enchanting folk motifs and clean, distinctive, lines. This ancient art, dhokra is one of the most famous traditional arts of India.
The world-famous Pashmina shawls from Jammu and Kashmir are made from raw unspun wool of domesticated Changthangi goats. This warm woolen fabric is turned into a fine shawl through an elaborate process and is a specialized job as the softness has to be retained through every step. Usually, it is woven in three patterns, twill or sade bunai, the popular diamond or chasm-e-bulbul, and the special herringbone style or gada kond. Pashmina shawls are counted as one of the most famous traditional crafts of India.
Phulkari Embroidery technique from the Punjab and Haryana region literally means flower work, which was at one time used as the word for embroidery, but in time the word ‘Phulkari’ became restricted to embroidered shawls and head scarfs. It is a kind of embroidery that has complex designs made through vertical, horizontal and diagonal stitches, this whole work is done with white or yellow silk floss on cotton khaddarh and starts from the centre on the fabric called “chashm-e-bulbul” and spreads to the whole fabric. They are bright and colourful. Some modern fashion designers are incorporating this embroidery into their garments, and its use has spread to jackets, bags, cushion covers, table-mats, shoes, slipper, juttis, and kids wear.
Zardozi Embroidery work involves making elaborate designs, using gold and silver threads along with studded pearls and precious stones. Intricate designs in gold are made of silk, velvet and even tissue materials famous in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Initially, the embroidery was done with pure silver wires and real gold leaves. However, today, craftsmen make use of a combination of copper wire, with a golden or silver polish, and a silk thread. This embroidery work is mainly a speciality of Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Mumbai, Ajmer, and Chennai etc.
Azulejos are hand painted tiles that were originally brought to Goa by the Portuguese. Blue and yellow were the favorite color combinations of the tiles which depicted mainly floral patterns and religious scenes though now new themes and colors are being added. Someone can come across family portraits, name plates, scenes from daily life, landscapes and scenery in these cool hand painted tiles. Now you can also find these tiles aplenty in the old churches of Goa.
Chamba Rumal or Chamba handkerchief is an embroidered handkerchief once patronized by the former rulers of the Chamba kingdom. In Himachal Pradesh, it features as a common wedding gift with detailed patterns in it. The materials used consist of muslin, khaddar, malmal brush and silk threads without knots. Motifs have traditionally drawn inspiration from local folklore, tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, floral designs and geometric patterns.
Jadupatua Art is an art practiced by the Santhal tribe of Jharkhand. The Jadupatuas are painted on scrolls depicting themes from the life of Lord Krishna, the story of creation according to the Santhal tradition and their dance and music and sometimes death images and life after death. They are painted on both cloth and paper using natural colors like soot, vermilion and mud from the riverbank while the hair of the goat or the quill of a porcupine serves as a raw material to make brush. The two ends of the cloth are sewn around bamboo sticks so that the scroll could be rolled and carried around.
The Toda embroidery also known as “Pukhoor” is an artwork of the Toda people of Nilgiris in Tamilnadu. Embroidered by women, the traditional shawl of Puthukuli is worn by both men and women. The shawl has alternate red and black stripes at the gap of six inches. The embroidery is done on the stripes of red and black colour. Motifs include geometrical patterns, buffalo horns, Sun moon, stars, flowers, snakes and rabbits etc.
Indian culture is one that has been passed on from generation to generation through traditions and folklores. These Indian folk arts are a representation of the Indian culture. It is a form of art that has been created in by the people in India, for the people in India. Therefore, we should share and promote these Indian folk art forms to raise awareness among the masses about their existence. Sharing them on social media platforms, traditional media platforms such as Electronic Media, Print Media, Web Channels, and International Magazines etc. are a great way to generate interest for these art forms.
Art is one of our most sacred medium to communicate with others especially when it comes to culture and heritage of a region or nation. Let’s celebrate the rich culture of Indian folk art and do our bit to deliver it on to the next generation. This will be counted in the great acts of kindness.
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