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iXiGOers Jun 25 2013

Which are the unknown arts and crafts of India?

Vaishali Singh Jun 25 2013
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Arts and Crafts of India are famous throughout the world for their richness and intricacy. Being the land of varied cultures that are extremely gifted when it comes to art and creativity, India has many a handicrafts to please the observant eye. While many of our artefacts are celebrated throughout the world, there are also a few which remain cloaked in obscurity. Here's a low down on the latter:

Jadaputra Paintings

Traditionally prevalent in the tribal pockets of Jharkhand, Jadupatua paintings are expressed largely through narratives. The paintings earned the Jadupatuas the adage of ‘magic painters’. On the event of a death in a Santhal house, the Jadupatua would arrive with a portrait resembling the deceased. It would be complete except for the eyes. In return of goods or money, the Jadupatua would paint the pupils of the eyes, enabling the deceased with sight in the ‘other’ world. Known as Chaksudana, this was one of the most prominent themes in this genre spanning the Santhal story of creation, Jatra scrolls and more.

Walnut Wood Carving

The hand-carved walnut wood products of Kashmir make for beautiful, easy-to-carry souvenirs. More so, because the unique hand knotted carpets made in this region are highly expensive in comparison. In measured strokes, the craftsman chips and carves a block of walnut wood into intricate designs that take the shapes of bowls, cutlery, dressing tables, bar cabinets, even sofa sets. There are different techniques of walnut wood carving, from flat to deep relief that give the motifs a three dimensional effect. Most of the artists hail from the Muslim community of Kashmir and this handicraft is practiced mostly in and around Srinagar city. Walnut wood products with metal inlay work can also be easily found in handicraft stores but are slightly expensive.

Thewa Jewellery, Rajasthan

In India, Thewa sets make for family heirlooms. Without them, trousseaus are incomplete. This 400-year-old craft is, least said, mesmerising. It’s little wonder it occupies the pride of place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Thewa, according to legend, originated in Deolia, a small estate in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district. Practiced by members of the Soni caste, it prospered under the patronage of Prince Bika of Mewar. Another legend has it that the technique actually hailed from Bengal. The Bengali craftsmen are believed to have moved westwards in search of livelihood and shared the technique of making Thewa with the members of the Soni caste.

The workmanship involved is intricate. First a glass piece is cut into a desired shape and size by a diamond cutter and is then placed inside a frame of silver wire. The thin sheet of filigreed gold is then fixed within the same frame. The piece is then heated until the gold and the glass are firmly fused together. A thin silver foil is fixed on the other side of the glass to provide the final finish. Incidentally, ‘thewa’ in Rajasthani language means ‘to set.’

Photo of Thewa Jewellery Pendant

Making the thin sheet of filigreed gold is in itself a long-drawn and arduous technique. A thick, fine paste is made from grinding together broken pieces of terracotta, chemicals and oil. This paste, spread on a wooden mantle, serves as the base for the gold sheet on which the artisan creates the desired motif. The gold sheet is later peeled off gently by heating it and is thoroughly washed with a mild acid to remove any remnants of the base.

The wastage in the process is high — overheating can either break the glass or melt the gold. And worse still, if the technique is not impeccably executed, there is fear of the gold coming off the glass in due course of time. More than the weight of gold in each piece, it is the craftsmanship involved that makes a Thewa piece valuable. Products made include jewellery, boxes, decorative plates, photo frames, vases, etc.

These are only a few of the many handicrafts of India. Head to one of the places above to observe these come to life in front of your eyes and don't forget to buy some to encourage the hard-working artisan to continue practising the art!
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