Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gandhi Shilp Bazaar beckons artisans

Handicrafts sector plays a significant roll in the country’s economy. It provides employment to a vast segment of crafts-persons. In order to promote these skilled artisans, the Ministry of Textiles, Govt. of India, in association with Sahara Handicrafts and Handloom Association, Mysore, has organised 'Gandhi Shilp Bazaar - 2009', in which more than 150 artisans from all over India are exhibiting their exquisite craftsmanship. The Bazaar is open to public till October 11 between 10 am and 9 pm at Scouts and Guides Grounds, behind the DC's Office.
Nearly 70,000 varieties of craft works are on display. They include Madhubani paintings of Bihar, Phulkari from Punjab, Patta Chitra, silver filigrees from Orissa, tie & dye, exquisite wood carvings, stone carvings, bead works from Rajasthan, Talli Zutti from Haryana, Chittara Paintings, leather chappals from Maharashtra, stuffed toys, appliqué work from Gujarat, leather products and lac ban-gles from Madhya Pradesh, Chikkan embroidery, cut-glass jewellery, carpets and metal works from UP.
Most of the artisans participating in the expo are National Awardees and are giving live demonstration of their work at the expo to quench the curiosity of art lovers. It is certainly an opportunity not to be missed by art lovers. Star of Mysore caught up with some of the artisans amidst their busy schedule who spoke about their artifacts and skills involved in preparing them.
G. Venkat Muni Achary, Andhra Pradesh: Indian craftsmen are very adept in wood carving as it is a traditional skill that is being passed down from generations. Various techniques are employed to carve wood. He was extremely happy to exhibit his works in Mysore. He chisels beautiful wooden statues of Gods and Goddess in a special way using neem logs.
Venkat, 25-year-old, started wood-carving since he was a child as he had to discontinue his studies after 7th. standard due to family problems. He star-ted learning the traditional wood carving from his father and grand parents. Today he creates carvings upto 6 ft. long which ranges from Rs. 200 to Rs. 12,000.
A very unique item on display at the Bazaar is the wooden screen made out of good quality wooden pieces. The finishing touches are superb. They are polished to give an appearance of natural wood colour. Not just screens, there are room partitions, handbags and carpets on display, all made of wooden pieces by Sukdev Samanta from West Bengal. He says these add radiant beauty to the homes. There are also wooden screens made by fretwork carving popularly known as Jaali in Uttar Pradesh. It is commonly used as a confession box in churches.
Sukdev Samanta has displayed a wide variety of wooden screens, carved in various shapes and sizes each having an attractive finishing touch and style. They come polished in various colours like grey, beige, green, pink, blue, magenta, orange and buff, which make these wooden screens appear more attractive.
Another artisan Siddegowda hailing from Channapatna, grabs your attention with his exquisite wooden art works. He creates intricate designs in wood, all carved by hand, using only the commonly-available chiseling tools. Having been in this profession for the past 30 years, he can finish a piece of work in just 15-20 minutes.
"Doing traditional wood carving using mallet has become my life and inspiration. I learnt this on my own. It’s a form of carving figures using a special carving knife and gouge”, says Siddegowda, who carves artistic wood crafts like rolling pins, ladles, toys, spoons, bowls, trays, vases, book stands, jewel boxes, masks, idols, photo frames, key hangers and wooden bangles.
G. Nanda Kishore Suthar from Chittotgad in Rajasthan is displaying the traditional Kaawad art and wood craft. According to Nanada Kishore, this art has been in existence for the past 400 years. He recreates mythological stories from Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Marwari folklore and many other concepts by picturising these stories on wood (Kasthakala) in the Kaawad style.
Kishore has big plans to increase his exports abroad by populari-sing the existing traditional Kaawad and wooden toys with new designs and technologies.
To give shape to intricate body features like eyes and nose, the wood artisans employ different techniques like paring, cutting and smoothing wood. These are performed in a variety of forms and sizes by carving out hollows, rounds and sweeping curves. Later these are inlaid with coloured material to give the final shape to these features. The two most commonly trees used for carving are Bass Wood (aka Tilia or Lime) and Neem.
Many of these artisans conduct classes, workshops and also hold public demonstrations to teach basic skills to those interested in craft-making.
[Thursday 8th October 2009]

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