Showcase Artisan Zahiruddin and artist Janak Singh are displaying their work at the ‘Odisha Tribal Craft’ exhibition.

Some years ago, when National Awardee Zahiruddin visited Iran to demonstrate his craft of Khurja art pottery, the locals were amazed at the fluid shapes, which he effortlessly covered with curving vine and flowers and arabesques as well as the blue glazes that found a resonance in their own blue and white pottery, tiled mosques and so on. Yet the art of Khurja blue pottery, which was brought from Persia to India by the Mughals some 450 years ago, has developed to different rhythms in Khurja. Apart from blue and white, the artisans use different colours and it has become a part of crockery, tableware and lifestyle artefacts.

“I learnt the craft from my guru, Abdul Rashid Ahmad”, says Zahiruddin, “and have been practicing it for 35 years. Our raw material consists of 50 per cent China clay, which comes from Gujarat. We mix these three elements into a dough and create products both by the mould casting method and on the wheel. Once a product takes shape we dry it and do the finishing. Free hand drawing on the surface follows. The colouring is done with lead-free chemical colours and some natural ones.

“After the painting, we fire it in a diesel fire shuttle to 1210 C. Once we see the product shining in the bhatti, it is taken out. I’ve taught the art to 30 students under the government schemes as well as countless private aspirants whom I do not charge any fees….”

Zahiruddin’s well crafted array of vases, pots, tea and coffee sets and so on, can be seen at ‘Odisha Tribal Craft’ exhibition currently on at Corporation Community Hall, C.P. Ramaswami Road, Alwarpet.

Also at the exhibition are artist Janak Singh’s exquisite reproductions of Rajput miniatures. Some are done with compelling effect on old stamp papers. These include gilded royal processions, court scenes, herds of beautifully caparisoned elephants and birds. His collection also includes remarkable 5” by 3” Ravi Verma’s reproductions.

The Odisha Tribal Mela includes Rajasthan’s unusual iron craft decorative vessels, an impressive array of Andhra’s neemwood icons and panels, Odisha’s tribal dhokra ware and Saura art panels, jewellery forms and patchwork, Sambhalpuri ikkat saris and a lot more. On till January 5, 2013.

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