Entries by cci

From a range of wooden toys, Varanasi

Varanasi’s toymakers carve ingenious, brightly coloured animals out of panels of fine grained Kahema wood The flatness probably inspired the craftsperson to create a jigsaw puzzle. Watch the elephant come apart and be put together — the challenge could be more than child’s play.

Copper lamps and brass leaf salvers, Delhi

Traditional metalcraft artisans fashion these from clay models. Nonetheless, probably because they live near a metropolis, these craftsmen are ever responsive to changing times and tastes. The light slanting off the gleaming diyas, salvers and whimsical flowers might well illuminate a corner, without your ever lighting a lamp.

Cutwork runners, Barmer, Rajasthan

Cutwork or ‘khatwa’, traditionally done by women, has reverse appliqué in which a layer of cloth is applied to a second cloth below. The top layer has tiny incisions where the cloth is folded very fine and stitched down, revealing the pattern in the base cloth. Formerly depicting figurative and geometric motifs, today ‘khatwa’ explores forms, stories and themes centred on social issues.

Mythological and contemporary ‘pat’ narratives, Bengal

The ‘patuas’ or scroll makers of West Bengal are professional painters. Drawn from both Muslim and Hindu communities they create patachitras with storytelling themes. The artists double as itinerant singers whose narratives accompany the unfolding of the ‘pats’, as they travel in the countryside.

From a range of wooden toys, Varanasi

This smart rooster has been carved by slicing a piece of fine grained Kahema wood, by a Varanasi woodcraft artisan. The painting, in all likelihood, was then outsourced to the wife of a potter friend: a good example of community partnership.The handsome bird can also ingeniously walk that ramp, step by elegant step.

Gond painting on wooden boxes, Madhya Pradesh

This tribal art underlines the symbiotic relationship in nature between birds, animals and plant life. Characteristic of Gond technique are fine stripes and stippled dots, as are drenched primary colours. However, the innovative artist here has chosen a more urbane black-crimson-ivory palette.

Porcelain cups on saucers of carved stone jaali, Agra

Agra bursts with creativity. ‘Jaali’ or lattice work on wood, stone and marble, was originally used in Indo Islamic architecture to create cool, delicate, light-shedding screens. Here the craftsman has turned his skill at filigree to an inspired black stone saucer set off with a pristine white porcelain cup.

Wooden box with carved fretwork, Bijnor, U.P.

‘Jaali’ or fretwork is a Mughal legacy to Uttar Pradesh. The artisans once carved blocks of ebony for fine lace-like tracery. Today they use the more easily available sheesham wood, with equally exquisite results.

Small steel trunks painted by Madhubani artist, Bihar

Madhubani is a heritage folk art form, done by village women of the Mithila district in Bihar. The closely packed designs were originally painted as ritual expressions of mythological tales on the walls of homes. Here is a quirky modern adaptation on a stack of steel. Take your pick.