Sunday, November 2, 2014

Phulkari – floral art from Punjab

To create is to express. And, expression is the manifestation of human thoughts and emotions which permeates across the boundaries of mind and morphs in forms of arts and creation. It’s indeed one of the primary natures of man.
The older a particular culture is, the more enriched is its art. Among some of the oldest civilization of the world, India, happens to be a witnesses of exquisite art forms that have spread across the frontiers of international border and have been embraced by fellow beings of other lands.

There are many exquisite embroidery patterns prevalent across India.
Madhubani, Baluchari, Kantha are some of the most acclaimed art forms hailing from various parts of India. But, the country’s ethnic diversity has actually given rise to a vibrant rainbow of art which assimilates the best of all cultures and has given synthesized something unique.
On one hand India has gifted rich art forms to the patrons across globe; and on the other, it has also synthesized arts of other countries in her own unique essence. One such creation is Phulkari. As the name suggests, Phulkari is an artwork on floral motif.

Origin of Phulkari art: Phulkari, one of the most well known creations that bloomed in Punjab even though it had it’s origin in Iran. In Iran the same art is known as Gulkari…the word “Gul” meaning flower. Phulkari perpetuated in Punjab at around 19th century and soon became a very distinctive aspect of Punjabi homes. Whether it was wedding, ceremonies around birth or any other religious ceremonies, Phulkari was just a must have. A hobby, a pastime creation…the art was of  common interest to women who spent times together in afternoon; inevitably indulging to discussions while not missing out even a single stroke of needle as they created masterpieces of the art. Interestingly, the art didn’t have any pre documented format…the technicalities just passed via word of mouth as legacies from one generation to the other.

Embroidered designs: Rich embroidery patterns sewn on cotton fabric, better known as Khaddar with threads which were spinned manually loomed and most importantly dyed using natural colors. The Khaddar were mainly of four colors...viz. red, blue, white & black. It’s also available in hues of green, pink. While red was earmarked for young women and also newlyweds, white was more in vogue with older women.
Soon, Phulkari became an inherent part of Punjabi weddings and was an important contribution made by       the bride’s family. The design patterns were surely a reflection of the family’s social status. Rich families would supposedly employ embroidery patters which were more enhanced to others; among this darning stitch being one of the most popular.

Bagh:  The fondness for rich design patters is highly felt in Bagh. The literal meaning of the word means Garden…as the name suggests some of the Phulari patterns were designed to cover the entire surface of the fabric. Gold, silvery white are some of the dazzling colors that are used in Bagh which not just makes the Phulkari a rich reflection of the familial status but also makes it one of the most enriched creations of art.
The importance of the art has never faded away with time…rather it strengthened furthermore. From floral creations the art has embraced geometric patterns which surely meet the taste of urban fashionnistas who have always been experimental when it comes to fashion. The designs are also embedded into sarees, stoles and even bedcovers, thus making it a part of one’s everyday life.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kantha Work –where simplicity speaks

Off white Kantha saree
 “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”; and nothing can better explain this statement than sophisticated art works.  There are many examples which testify to this fact and it is most true for creations like handworks on textiles, decors, wall hangings and other home embellishments. Kantha works on sarees and stoles are unique specimens which reflect sophisticated handworks in quintessential style.

What is Kantha Style?: Kantha is a typical form of embroidery where simple handstiched designs made out of thread. It is an age old of tradition in India where pieces of Sarees were being layered together and running stitches were applied on them in order to create coverings for children. The simplistic design later morphed into a quintessential artwork and slowly made its way to sarees and stoles.  Kantha work were being inspired from motifs like birds, animals, fishes, and also folk scenes that vividly depicted livelihood of people.
Nashikantha, an enriched creation: Any kind of art which is cultured for a prolonged period of time flourishes ever more. One such example is Nakshikantha. In simple words, Nakshikantha is an embroidered quilt, but its rich and intricate design patterns and the combo of strong colors like yellow, red, blue further accentuates its design.  
In most cases Nakshikantha has bicolor shades with intricate design works being highlighted in it.
Silk Jamewar Kantha Shawl

Kantha works in sarees and stoles: What started as a requirement for common households slowly made its way as a popular art form across Bengal, Orissa, and also Bangladesh and is a specialty of Bolpur, West Bengal. Initially an outline is drawn on the drape and then vibrant colors are used     to create an embroidered design so as to render it a stunning appearance. Kantha works are popular on Tussar, silk, rawsilk, and also on . Most Kantha based designs are handwoven which means that it is almost impossible for anybody to find a replica of a particular artwork. Even for the weaver himself it is hard to create a duplication of the original version.
Price of Kantha sarees: Interestingly, Kantha sarees are available on various price range and it may vary from three to twenty five thousand on an average.
 The ethnic appeal of Kantha works makes it a favorite among most fashionnistas… the simple design paralleled with bright color tones makes Kantha work recognized as a hallmark of simplicity and grace.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Baluchari - from the heart of Bishnupur, Bengal

Green Baluchari saree
Art is an embodiment of culture….whether it is a purely hand sculpted idol or a detailed artwork on a drape, art simply reflects the rich cultural heritage of a place.  An intricate handwork not only speaks of the artistic caliber of its weaver but also boasts highly of the legacy it carries within itself.
Sarees, happen to be one of the finest platforms which truly reflect art and its legacy. Bengal highly boasts of the designs, handworks portrayed on an array of  various sarees…whether it is Muslin, Tangail, Taant, all of them depict intricate design works which speaks highly of the heritage that it carries.  While Taant, Dhakai sarees are well known for simplicity and grace, Baluchari and Swarnachari just reflect grandeur and glory.  

Baluchari work
Origin of Baluchari: Baluchari is one of the most eminent creations of Bengal and is predominantly manufactured in Bishnupur district of Bankura, West Bengal. The creation owes its origin to Murshid Kuli Khan, the Nawab of Bengal who adored the art and made it flourish in Bishnupur. He art originally hails from Dhaka, Bangladesh. The art was practiced in Baluchar district and was named after the district itself. However, after a point of time, due to immense flood the art moved on to Bishnupur. Today, it is a popular art practiced in Bishnupur and Baluchari sarees are adored in the same way like Benarasi, Kanjivaram and other such creations that are earmarked as ‘special’.
What makes Baluchari special?
The USP of the art is that Baluchari sarees are designed on a particular motif. Mostly incidents or characters from Indian epics like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata are being portrayed in the drape. A typical Baluchari saree would depict the “Sawamvar of Draupadi” where the bride’s suitors were asked to hit an arrow at the eye of a fish just by looking at its reflection.   

Black Swarnachari saree
Swarnachari, the golden counterpart: Similar to Baluchari, Swarnachari sarees are also very much in vogue. The specialty of these sarees is that it is weaved in gold threads. The lustrous feel of the garment gives it an ostentatious appearance and makes it highly appreciable among women. It has close similarities with Baluchari except for the fact that silk threads are used in the latter. However, conceptually both are same and just like Baluchari it has intricate designs are depiction of mythologies.
Other Motifs: The designs are generally inspired from Mythological stories, like the Ramayana, Mahabharata. It also portrays scenes from the Mughal era for instance the Nawab’s Durbar or depicting women smoking hookah and the like. The drape is available in shades of red, off white with strong hues of gold.
The faces behind the creation: The art happens to be one of the richest cultures of Bengal. To produce one master piece it takes more than 100 hours of hard work. Lalu and Bholu are two twin brothers specialize in creating Baluchari sarees. They are like many other artisans work endlessly and contribute to preserve this heritage.

While the creations amaze buyers across globe, it is the relentless hardwork of the artisans which actually gives the Midas touch to drape which makes the creation a must have in every woman’s wardrobe. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dhokra art – From ancient to contemporary

An art is one of the most evident depictions of culture. Most ancient culture boasts of its own contemporary art form which ensembles the lifestyle of the particular era. Dhokra happens to be one of the finest  art specimen which hasn’t just evolved as a part of a  culture, but has morphed itself to represent the contemporary.
Model in Dhokra Jewelries
Origin of Dhokra: The very name “Dhokra” is said to have originated from “Dhokra Damar” tribe who had used the lost wax technology to cast the metals. It dates back to around 4000 years back during the times of Mahen-jo-daro civilization when Dhokra depicted figments of the then culture and lifestyle. One of the testaments to this fact is the “dancing girl” Dhokra art found amongst the remnants of time. It still remains as one of the finest examples of this ancient art.

Dhokra Home Decor
Dhokra Jewelries

Part of Lifestyle: Despite the fact that Dhokra has its origin in past, the art form is gladly welcomed in the life of modern India. Dhokra ornaments are often used as an accompaniment to ethnic apparels. While gold and other metals render an ostentatious appearance to its wearers, Dhokra simply paints the whole attire in an artistic tinge. The jewelries are also combined with Indo western dresses which render a Bohemian aura to its wearer. On the other hand, the same art has found its place in artistic mansions of art aficionados. While most living room decors proudly boasts of the class and stature of its owners, Dhokra essentially reflects their taste. 

Gita Karmakar, Dhokra artist
Dhokra Art in Bankura, West Bengal: Dhokra art is quite popular in Bikhuni village in Bankura. Around 70 families are engaged in the creation, the village is almost a hub of Dhokra creations in India. Gita karmakar is a president awardee and one of the eminent names who have contributed in the art. Batsar in Madhya Pradesh and Monihar in Bihar are yet other examples.

More than just art, Dhokra carries within itself a  timeless saga of long lost culture and civilization. It  still remains a memento of the past and an iconic art of today.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Madhubani – a tale from ancient India

An art is a reflection; the reflection of culture, lifestyle and essentially of an era. An art is a depiction where  stories are being retold, the time is revisited and Madhubani is just no exception to this… essaying the saga of bygone Indian times, especially Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Madhubani art is truly a mirror to the then India. 

Origin of Madhubani art:

Madhubani art
Strangely enough, the origin of Madhubani art yet remains a mystery…and isn’t really validated by historical records. It is being believed that the origin dates back to the times of Ramayana, when King Janaka commissioned painters to paint murals on walls across palace.

Madhubani saree

The legacy passed on for generations and became a very inherent part of Bihar households as Bhitti-Chitra or wall paintings. The art was however were concealed within the territorial limits of Bihar until later in 1934 when Bihar was struck by a major earthquake. William G. Archer, a British colonial officer happened to find out the paintings among the remnants. Later in 1966 when the state was hit by famine, Madhubani was re-introduced. Women were encouraged to replicate the mural paintings on paper and the idea was of course to generate an effective income source for the villagers. Today, Madhubani art is practiced across Bihar with the hub at Ranti in Madhubani district. The art is named after the district itself; it is also known as Mithila art as the origin is believed to date back to the times of King Janaka, who was the king of the ancient kingdom of Videha with it’s capital city Mithila.

Expression of the art: 

The creation didn’t limit itself to only murals but expressed itself as a popular art form on canvas, handmade paper and also clothing. The design expresses itself in garments like stoles, scarves and most emphatically in sarees. Most designs are symbolic…it would depict images of bamboo grove, serpent and other elements of nature; mostly symbolizing the proliferation of life.
Mrs. Godavari Devi

It is widely printed on tussar, khadi sarees and has also been recognized in several foreign museums viz. Mithila museum, Japan and Museum of Sacred Art, Belgium and more. Mrs. Godavari Dutta, one of the renowned painters excelling in the art has been the key person in painting the Japanese Madhubani gallery. She is also a President’s award winner is indeed one of the contributors who have spread the art beyond the territorial limits of the nation. 


Availability in stores: 

Some of the specimen of the art is being offered by reputable organizations across India and Buddha and Beyond is surely one of them. Priti, a much talented contributor to the creations is the grand daughter of Mrs. Godavari Devi and needless to mention, a treasurer of the art.
Madhubani art in saree
Model in Madhubani saree
Buddha And Beyond offers Khadi silk sarees portraying Maduhbani designs are available at around 6000 INR.  The intricate designs complemented with strokes of vegetable colors simply render a quintessential aura to it’s appearance.

The essence of Madhubani lies not just in it’s style but also in the legacy it has carried. Till date, Madhubani continues to be an exemplary art whose name remains engraved on the pedestals of time.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kotpad –a creation of Koraput

Saree is India’s one of the most eminent gifts to the fashion world. When draped in a saree a woman has that quintessential appeal which enwraps her in an entirely enigmatic aura! While some of these creations are just apt for an ostentatious profile, sarees like Kotpad are meant to simply amplify one’s grace and elegance. Devoid of ostentatious ornamentations, Kotpad is simply designed, elegant in appearance with a texture assuring ultimate comfort. It is commonly available in pure cotton, tussar or in a blend of cotton and tussar materials.

kotpad saree from Koraput
The saree essentially hails from Koraput- a region located along the tribal belt of Odisha district in India. The tribes are known as “Adivasis”, meaning the original inhabitants. Owing to the rapid urbanization of these areas, a number of tribals have embraced modernization to a large extent. Kotpad, is one of the eminent creations of Koraput, and thus unfolds the story of relentless hard work of tribal weavers and also some of the other weaver families who have been instrumental in making Kotepad what it is today.

Bula and her family
Bula, a face among many: Like many others, Bula is a small member of one of the weavers family. With three elder sister and parents, Bula’s family is her little own world. Her father, Prahlad Mahato is one of the talented weavers who has been contributing relentlessly in creating fine pieces of the drape. Bula is surely one of the contributing members in the family for whom the reward is her family’s happiness. When asked, what she would aspire for in life, all she would reply is “just a smile on my mother’s face…”

Yarn processing
Kotpad – a silver lining: Most weaver families thrive on handmade creations, a legacy inherited from their ancestors. Most are available in hues of white, maroon, red and black. The color is something contributed by the bark at the root of Aal tree. The sarees are hand woven, processed, refined and then made available in the market. The long winded process includes processing the yarn in cowdung, drying, rinsing, and then later decorating them with simple embellishments.

Kotpad is available in most stores of Orissa and thankfully also made available online for sale by some of the patrons of this garment. The simplicity of the wear just speaks of the story behind its creation. In a nutshell, Kotpad is essentially one of the offerings of Koraput …with stories of the weavers well knitted within its folds.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Buddha & Ganpati Statues - Enlightening your home

The Buddha is an inspiration. A path walked on renunciation, shedding off worldly desires to discover peace….the Buddha is surely a great inspiration to mankind.
To bring the gracious presence of the Lord, Buddhaandbeyond offers excellent sculpted images from Khudki village. Khudki is only a Kilometer away from Pattharkatti located in Gaya, Bihar – INDIA.  The Pattharkatti village is named after the well known Darshat Majhi the Ghelout 'Mountain Man' who chiseled away and created a long road on a mountainous terrain. It took him 22 years. He began with the mission to save his wife the hardship of travelling miles through rough terrain to collect firewood. This is the story behind the name Pattharkatti, which in literary sense means cutting the rock.

Just a Kilometer away from Patthakatti is the village of Khudki which is resided by numerous artisans. One among them is Kedar. Kedar, with a team of about 60 artisans works on sandstone and sculpts the amazing Budda statues. He is a respectable member in his community for his contribution in creating ‘Bust of the Mountain Man’ sculptors.  Some of his creations grace four places of historical relevance in Gaya district: Jharna Ghat, Ghelout Ghat, Sharen Junction and Punar.
Kedar also contributes by creating Buddha Sculptors which are sculpted in the image of the Lord in an entirely sanctum sanctorum ambiance at Bodh Gaya. It is the very place where Prince Siddharth attained enlightenment and later came to be known as ‘Gautama Buddha’